Wexford hurler Rory O'Connor has a lot to talk about at the minute.
Fresh off the back of a league campaign that saw the Model county narrowly miss out on a semi-final, Pierecestown marksman O'Connor is looking forward to a crack at Dublin at Parnell Park on May 19th in a game that he feels is of utmost importance to Wexford's ambitions this summer.
"It's the only match we're talking about", said the 20-year-old. "Like last year, it dictates the season. You have to win that to be in with a chance to take on the other two and get to an All-Ireland quarter-final or even our main hope is a Leinster final".
O'Connor scored a late, late monster score to clinch the game when the teams met in the Championship a year ago, but he feels that this year's Dublin side has shown vast improvement since being turned by Davy Fitgerald's men at Wexford Park last May.
"They are a force now. They’re definitely another year ahead in their system, even though they changed managers. They’re not going to be easy to get over".
But whilst hurling is firmly the focus of this O'Connor, the exploits of younger cousin Barry on the Gaelic Football field have earned the St Martin's club man a chance to earn his stripes in AFL.
Having played senior football with the county over the past couple of seasons, Barry, who's a son of Rory's All-Ireland winning uncle George, has been invited for a trial with the Sydney Swans.
He went through the combine in UCD with all the lads and was a top four pick. One of my best friends that I'm living with Luke Towey from Sligo and another fella from Wexford Ronan Devereux are away over too. there was a scout there from the Sydney Swans that took a liking to Barry so he asked him over for two weeks.
He got over yesterday and he's living with Sam Naismith one of the Swans players so he's there for two weeks and it's a great opportunity for him.
He's built for it, he's conditioned for it, he looks after himself very well and he knows how to kick a ball cause it's basically a rugby ball and we played rugby for years so he might be ahead of the posse in terms of learning how to kick the ball but sure I'm lucky enough to be hurling with Wexford and there's such a buzz there and we're up there with the top teams.
He was with the Wexford footballers but he sees it as an opportunity, anyone would. Even if you go over for only one or two years, it's a great opportunity.
O'Connor also had his say on the hot topic of fixture congestion and the demands on the modern day county star, saying that the intertwining of the crescendo to the colleges hurling year and the Allianz Hurling League can prove to be a double-edged sword, as Congress looks to investigate ways of lightening the load.
"It depends on what kind of mood you are in, what opinion you have. When you are fit and flying you love playing league game, Fitz game, league game, Fitz game, because you are not training. When you are injured or injured because of it you are obviously anti it. Obviously, fixtures [problems] are not just what is going on in the league, February kind of period, it is the whole calendar year that might have to be looked at. I don’t have an alternative at the moment."
Alluding to the decision to convert the U21 championship to an U20s competition this year, O'Connor said he feared that the Fitzgibbon would be the next competition to undergo changes.
My only fear is that the next thing they'll do is take Fitzgibbon so I'm just waiting to see what they do but as players you can be playing away and then the next thing your season is gone. There's fellas finishing minor now and they're just 18 and they need just one more year to make the step to U21 but they're just idle.
I’ve hopefully three or four years left with Fitz. Hopefully, they don’t touch that. It’s a special tournament. Playing with lads you are actually having the craic. Not really training just going to a different college and hurling with lads you might never play with again. Lads in the same boat, doing the same travel just with a different county team.
Rory O'Connor was speaking at the official launch of the Physio Led Personal Training at Sports Physio Ireland. Physio-led personal training is designed to improve your overall level of well being, helping you to achieve your fitness goals all the while catering for any lingering injuries you may have. SPI gym was fitted out by Model Construction, Killeen Rd, Dublin