“The one thing that motivates me every day is knowing that people are behind me and I’m being supported.” 

SmallTalk

Adam Moynihan caught up with inspirational Killarney teenager Ian O’Connell

to chat about his teammates, coming home and meeting Conor McGregor 

Well Ian. Welcome home.

Thank you.

How are you finding life back in Killarney?

I’m delighted. It’s different but it’s good.

Since your accident, the people here really seem to have rowed in behind you. How important has that been?

It’s unreal seeing the support. The one thing that motivates me every day is knowing that people are behind me and I’m being supported.

You met Conor McGregor recently… What was he like in person?

Very nice and very laid back. He stayed with me for 45 minutes. It was the best night of my life. Some people make him out to be very bad but when you meet him it’s a different story.

You’ve played football, soccer and hurling with Spa, Celtic, the Crokes and the Sem so I have a few questions about your teammates… Who would you least like to get stuck in a lift with?

Michael Horgan. Number one: he hates elevators. Number two: he’d panic and I’d just be trying to calm him down.

Who’s the biggest moaner?

Connie Cremin. He’d kick a ball wide and he’d say the laces were a bit out.

Who’s the worst dressed?

Diarmuid O’Donoghue.

What does he wear?

You could see him wearing crazy colours. Things like green bottoms and a big, bright pink top.

Who spends the most time in the gym?

Am I able to say myself?

You can.

Before my accident I used to go to the gym a load.

Who’s the best player you’ve ever played with?

Probably Cian Murphy. He’s a very good footballer.

And the best athlete?

I would say Conor Sheahan. He plays rugby with Munster.

Who’s your toughest ever opponent?

Paul O’Shea from Kilcummin.

What’s your proudest sporting moment?

Back under 14 I scored four goals for the Crokes hurlers.

That’s some going…

Yeah. I was very happy with that!

And the most embarrassing?

I was playing football one time and the ref threw the ball up for the second half. We won the hop and I got it and I kicked it straight into the other team’s full forward line. I forgot we switched sides at half time!

Haha… If you could meet any three sportspeople, living or dead, who would they be? I suppose you’ve already met one of them…

Yeah I’ve already met McGregor. I’d like to meet Marcus Rashford and Shane Long.

What are your five favourite sports in order?

Football, hurling, the gym, MMA and I like swimming as well.

What’s the best sporting moment of all time?

McGregor lifting the two belts.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t let something someone else said stop you from reaching your dream.

Do you have any nicknames?

Big Head.

Haha… Who gave you that one?

I don’t know who actually gave it to me but it seemed to get around the school fast!

Do you have any superstitions?

Don’t put new shoes on a table.

Yeah? That’s a strange one!

I’m a big believer of that. I got new shoes the other day. I hadn’t even worn them and the mother put them on the table. I nearly stood up to take them off!

What’s your favourite song at the moment?

Havana by Camila Cabello.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Eddie Murphy.

Haha… Okay, last one: can you tell me a joke?

My friend goes around breaking up fights in Dublin. His name is Liam Malone.

Haha… Not bad! Thanks for coming in, Ian.

No bother.

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