As a big fan of banter and Nando’s, Paul O’Conor admits to being a stereotypical League of Ireland footballer. But, unlike most, his season starts on Monday when Drogheda United face Portadown in the first round of the Setanta Sports Cup.
Drogheda United have certainly bolstered their squad over the winter with several new additions, including O’Conor, who is hoping to have made an impact during pre-season. The 25-year-old is confident ahead of Monday’s game: “We very much intend to go out and try and win it. I don’t think any manager will go in just to rotate players, just to try out new systems or anything like that.
“I certainly think we can win it and there’s no way that we will go into it with any other frame of mind. You can’t go into a cup game using it as a warm-up game. We’ll go into it and we’ll be ready for it,” he continued.
Their Setanta Cup opponents are undoubtedly nothing to be sniffed at, and boast the talent of former Shamrock Rovers striker Gary Twigg up front.
The midfielder is aware of the threat that The Ports pose, but won’t let it intimidate him: “Everybody knows how lethal he (Twigg) is in front of goal. As a UCD man I certainly know how lethal he can be considering he got about double figures against us. He’s up there and from what I’ve seen he’s doing very well.
Although Portadown don’t seem to be doing that well, I still think they’ll be tough. We’re as ready as we can be and we’re looking forward to it.”
O’Conor was an integral member of UCD’s impressive midfield in the 2012 and 2011 seasons. The decision to leave the Students wasn’t an easy one, but the talented player felt it was time to move on. In terms of pre-season, it’s been productive for him. He netted in Drogheda’s 2-0 win over Longford at the weekend, and when probed, he conceded it was rather lucky, although a little peeved at the suggestion.
“Pre-season’s going very well. It’s different to UCD, that’s all I’ve been used to for a while. It’s tough, but yes, I did score a very jammy goal the other day, as you so nicely put it. I don’t mind, I’ll take them all.
“If they come that easily, I’ll certainly take them. Two more games under our belt and we’ll be feeling better. We’ve had a few called off because of the weather so it’s kind of hampered the pre-season.”
Although only at the club for a short period, it’s been enjoyable for the former UCD man so far: “I signed to kind of move on from UCD. When you get to an age at UCD it tends to be time to move on. I spoke to the manager and he agreed and we talked about what I should do next and then I came to Drogheda where the lads have been great. They’ve made me feel right at home.”
Mick Cooke’s men will be challenging in Europe this year, which is something completely new to O’Conor. While he’s looking forward to the test, he’s not getting ahead of himself, and is fully focused on the task at hand first: “When I moved, it (Europe) was something that a lot of people said to me and it’s obviously something not every player gets to experience. It’s not going to come for a while but it’s definitely something to look forward to.”