Seven months after signing for AFL side Geelong Cats, Kerryman Mark O'Connor is set to make his debut this weekend.
Geelong announced on Thursday morning that O'Connor has been upgraded from the club's rookie list to its senior list. The 20-year-old will make his debut against Essendon at the MCG.
His opportunity came after a spot on the Geelong senior roster opened up due to a long-term injury sustained by Brandan Parfitt.
O'Connor has adapted quickly to the oval ball. Some impressive performances in the VFL - where he's played just four games - are said to have ushered his promotion to Geelong's senior side.
The Dingle man was one of the brightest stars of Kerry football prior to his move to Australia last year. O'Connor won two minor All-Irelands under Jack O'Connor in 2014 and 2015. He also won Hogan Cups with Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne in those years. He progressed to play U21 football for Kerry last year.
O'Connor, particularly noted for his spectacular high fielding ability in Gaelic football, was the subject of much interest from AFL clubs. After trialling with five AFL sides, North Melbourne, Melbourne and Geelong all expressed interest in acquiring his services. He eventually signed for Geelong on a two-year rookie deal.
Given how many Irish players who have made the transition to Aussie rules have struggled to make a senior breakthrough, it is certainly encouraging to see O'Connor do it so early in his career.
Picture credit: Eoin Noonan / SPORTSFILE