AFL star gets rap on knuckles for playing game of Gaelic football
Geelong weren't happy with him.
The Dingle man returned to West Kerry recently, and he played for his club in their Kerry SFC quarter-final win over Austin Stacks.
Mark O'Connor played a key role in that victory from midfield, despite the fact that his afternoon ended early due to a black card. However, with the midfielder not lining out for Dingle in their draw with East Kerry in the semi-final at the weekend, curiosity was piqued regarding his situation.
It has now become clear. O'Connor, who made his competitive senior AFL debut for Geelong Cats last May, got a slap on the wrist from the Victoria club for playing that last eight clash for Dingle.
The 21-year-old was forced to apologise to the Victoria outfit in Australia for playing that game without their permission. It's currently the off-season in the AFL, with the season ending up in September.
In the mean-time, O'Connor was granted leave by his club to return home to Ireland, but they didn't envisage him playing another sport during his time-off.
"It was down to the risk of injury which would then compromise his ability to play and train for Geelong,” the AFL club’s head of football Simon Lloyd told AFL.com.au.
"We told him we cannot provide permission to play in further Gaelic football games as it's a breach to his contract. To Mark's credit, he acknowledged Geelong was his main priority and that he wouldn't do it again."
The former All-Ireland minor winning captain with Kerry played five games for Geelong this season and he has been faring well Down Under.
Fellow AFL star Zach Tuohy was on The GAA Hour podcast recently and his glowing comments show that O'Connor returned home for the grá of his club, rather than any kind of unrest in Australia.
"He's really diligent, and I'm sorry to say for the Kerry listeners, he doesn't seem to be too homesick just yet. I think ye might be without him for a little while longer, because he's going incredibly well for us," said O'Connor's Geelong teammate.