Wednesday, 24 August 2011

In The Spotlight - Mark O'Connor (Coventry RFC)

It was a cold, wet and miserable night in Glen back pitch.  It was a pre-season training session for Derry minors.  The previous weekend Drumsurn’s Mark O’Connor had hurt his shoulder in a trial game.  We had him earmarked for a midfield slot.

He was present at Glen the following week, despite Niall Conway urging him to take it easy.  ‘Big Mark’ went in for a tackle during a conditioned game and down he went.  It was his ankle.  Not only was he central to our plans that season, but he also had a rugby career to think about.

After the usual treatment for a sprain, it was clear that Mark had damaged ligaments.  I felt terrible, as it was one of those sessions that should have finished ten minutes earlier, but we opted for one more game.  We were wrong.

After an intensive rehab plan, Mark played for us later that summer in the championship, scoring a goal on a scorching hot Ballybofey Sunday as we beat Donegal.  A contrast from that night in Glen.

Mark and his midfield partner, Cailean O’Boyle both missed out semi final with Monaghan and we exited the championship.  However, rugby was always high on Mark’s ambitions.  His brother Niall had already represented Ireland and Ulster.

I recently was in touch with Mark to see how he is progressing with his new move over to Coventry RFC.

Name: Mark O'Connor

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 87kg

Occupation: Professional Rugby Player/Student

Club: Coventry RFC          

Previous Club: Rainey OB RFC

Position: Full-back

Length of Rugby career: 11 years

Honours / Representative teams: Ulster U18, U19, U20, A, Colleges and Irish Colleges

Favourite Food: Pasta

Favourite Drink: Yazoo milkshake

Favourite Music: Upbeat Acoustic

Boots worn: Adidas Predator X

Three people you would invite to a dinner party? Frankie Sandford (Saturdays), Cheryl Cole and Kim Kardashian

Pre Match meal: 2L bottle of water mixed with Blue Powerade and a sandwich.

Pre Match superstitions: Always tape my left wrist with White tape and have 2 pairs of boots warm-up/playing

How often do you train: 4 days per week (4 gym sessions, 2 pitch sessions)

What does the training consist of?
It is currently pre-season training.  It mainly consists of cardiovascular workouts, muscular endurance and intensive skills.  Also for my position I work on place kicking and punting.

Is there special diet and training programmes depending on what position you play?  All players are responsible for their own diet but there is a power and strength program designed for each person.

Do you use Video Analysis? Every match is recorded and used to make individual and team improvements.

How much preparation do you do on calls and set plays? Approx 2 hours per week and all players have a playbook.

What is the most difficult part of playing rubgy?
It has to be the physical demands coupled with high intensity anaerobic fitness.

Which is harder – playing Football or rugby?
Physically rugby is harder but playing football is aerobically tougher.

How will Ireland do in the World Cup this year?
Quarter-Final exit.

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