K rock Football

Kicking a key for O’Connor

Mark O’Connor gets his kick away in Geelong’s four-point JLT Series loss to Essendon. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

EVEN in the depths of a cold Irish winter, Geelong utility Mark O’Connor still found time to get out and work on his kicking.

He even dragged his brothers outside for a kick-to-kick session in between Christmas meals.

Improving that facet of his game has been O’Connor’s major focus over the pre-season after a meteoric 2017 where he was sensationally elevated off the rookie list to make his AFL debut after playing just four VFL games.

The 21-year-old continues to impress and has put himself well and truly in the mix to be part of Geelong’s Round 1 line-up against Melbourne in a fortnight’s time.

O’Connor had 18 disposals – at 67 per cent efficiency – took four marks and kicked a second quarter goal in the Cats’ four-point loss to Essendon in their final hit-out of the pre-season in Colac today.

His willingness to take the game on and break away from contests also caught the eye.

Having played two games last season, O’Connor is reluctant to put a number to how many AFL appearances he wants in 2018.

“Just to play as much game time as I can, stay injury free and just keep improving,” O’Connor told K rock Football after the game.

“Just to play as many games as I can and to put my hand up whenever they need me in the AFL, build up a bit of form in the VFL and see how we go.

“The coaches been really generous with their time – (development coach) Nigel Lappin and (VFL coach) Shane O’Bree have been especially good to me – trying to make me a better player so I’ve just spent a lot of time over the pre-season trying to work on my skills, especially my kicking.”

No Geelong player was happier than Zac Tuohy when O’Connor slotted a nice running goal towards the city end of Central Reserve late in the first half.

It’s no surprise that the seasoned Tuohy has taken O’Connor under his wing since both arrived at GMHBA Stadium 18 months ago.

“Zach has helped me a lot since I’ve been in Geelong just with my skills and looking at vision and things like that so it was certainly good for him to see me score and I think he showed that,” O’Connor said.

“I was very happy to see Zach just after I kicked it and Zach is going really well.”

Twitter: @GreenBradley

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