O’Connor extends contract to end of 2026

April 26, 2024 BY

Mark O'Connor (left) has signed a two-year extension at Geelong. Photo: MARCEL BERENS/SPORTS MEDIA IMAGES

GEELONG Cats premiership player and Irish import Mark O’Connor will stay at Kardinia Park for a further two seasons.

The Cats announced O’Connor’s extension after Geelong’s Round 5 win over North Melbourne. It follows another strong outing from the defender, and will mean he will remain with Geelong until the end of 2026.

“It’s crazy,” O’Connor said.

“I just take it year by year and for it to be nearly 10 years…I can barely believe it.

“[I’m] happy with how it’s gone.”

O’Connor was recruited from County Kerry, Ireland, as an emerging Gaelic footballer before switching the round ball for the Sherrin.

He also won two All-Ireland Under-18 medals with Kerry in 2014 and 2015.

O’Connor officially joined the Cats in 2016 as a Category B Rookie, making his debut the following season against Essendon at the MCG, where he registered one kick and eight handballs.

O’Connor has become a key cog within Chris Scott’s playing list since 2019, taking part in at least 20 games for four of the last five seasons.

Playing mostly across halfback and occasionally in the midfield, O’Connor created a memory for life as part of Geelong’s 2022 premiership season.

O’Connor stated the lure of returning home to Ireland is one that still remains in the back of his head, often returning to his native land during the offseason.

“It’s always something that comes up at the end of every year because I have a very strong connection with home.

“So, it’s definitely something I’ve thought about but I’m very happy here now and this will take me to ten years in Geelong, so I’m very settled with my decision.”

O’Connor is one of three Irish players on Geelong’s AFL list, next to Zach Tuohy and Oisin Mullin.

He is also one of seven in total at the Cats, with Geelong’s AFLW squad boasting four Irish-born players in Aishling Moloney, Rachel Kearns, Anna-Rose Kennedy and Kate Kenny.

Geelong Cats general manager of football Andrew Mackie said the club has great respect for what Mark has achieved in his career.

“He has become a reliable and versatile player for us and [we] look forward to seeing him continue to wear the Hoops.”

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