During the Harrogate Town friendly, Leeds fans on Twitter kept asking the same question. “Who is this O’Connor kid?” “Where did he come from?” Astute readers of Through It All Together would have already known the answer, as we profiled him a few days before the first friendly.
For those asking, O'Connor is Paudie O'Connor - young Irish defender signed for the U23s from Limerick last season. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) July 5, 2017
The young defender joined Leeds United this past March after a successful trial at Elland Road. He had played for his hometown club in Ireland, Limerick, in both the Republic of Ireland Airtricity Premier Division and in the First Division.
O’Connor had played 16 times as a 16 year old for Limerick in the Premier Division, in the season that Limerick was relegated to the First Division, and then played 23 times in the next season as Limerick bounced right back to the Premier Division. The young defender impressed enough to consider a move across the Irish sea to England or Scotland, with many clubs hopeful on grabbing his signature after O’Connor failed to sign a new contract with Limerick, making him a free agent at the age of 19.
After 3 years with Limerick FC, Paudie O’Connor has signed for Leeds United following a short trial. We at LFC wish Paudie every success! pic.twitter.com/gpxGIyZ3Wt— Limerick FC (@LimerickFCie) March 16, 2017
Paudie was given the chance of a lifetime this offseason when he was picked to train with the first team in the preseason. Given the new ownership’s commitment to youth and with Radrizzani’s desire to build the academy, it’s great to see the young Irishman a chance to gain experience with the first team and even getting a full 45 minutes in the team’s first preseason game against Harrogate Town.
Three keepers (Wiedwald, Silvestri, Green) are here. Shaughnessy included, Paudie O'Connor not part of the travelling squad. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) July 15, 2017
So while it’s a tad disappointing to see him not travel to Austria, it was expected that he would spend this year in the reserves while he adjusts to English football and grows as a footballer. He might get a few chances during the season to come up and play with the first team, but even with a dearth of experienced central defenders, it is likely that O’Connor would not get much match time in the Championship. It’s better for both him and the club for him to spend at least at year in the reserves getting him match experience. And who knows, maybe he’ll get a few chances in the first team as the season progresses and maybe he’ll be playing for the first team at Leeds in the 2018-19 season.