Thursday 19 September 2019

Call-up no hoax for proud Conor

SCEPTICAL: Conor O’Malley. Pic: Sportsfile
SCEPTICAL: Conor O’Malley. Pic: Sportsfile

The man on the other end of the phone was a senior member of Martin O'Neill's coaching staff, telling Conor O'Malley that he had been called up to the national team.

O'Malley's first reaction was not of joy but doubt, presuming that the phone call, from an unknown UK number, was some form of hoax.

"I was looking it up online to make sure it wasn't a scam," says the Peterborough United keeper.

Tuns out the caller, Seamus McDonagh, was bona fide and Mayo lad O'Malley had been called up to the Irish squad.

Then the problems started. Not only did the call-up mean he had to tell his girlfriend, Máire, that a planned trip to New York next Tuesday was off, he also had to reschedule his study plan.

O'Malley is already a college graduate, having taken a maths degree in Maynooth while he was at St Patrick's Athletics, but he's keeping up his education and planned to sit CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exams.

"I've an exam on June 23, so this hasn't really helped," he jokes about his call-up - O'Malley is a rare case of an Ireland squad member with a third-level qualification.

"When I went to college I was just playing football, but it's nice to have something for when I finish. I'll be able to go and get a good job, get good money and not be worried financially after football," he says.

Whatever about his academic skills, O'Malley is a handy keeper as he showed as a sub in last Sunday's testimonial against Celtic.

"It's great to get in and it was nice to get 30 minutes against Celtic, especially in front of such a big crowd," says O'Malley, having made rapid progress since leaving Pat's last August.

"My focus when I went was to get playing for Peterborough but, of course, in time I wanted to get the call-up at some stage. I just didn't expect it in my first year, maybe by the end of my second season, that I could be in the squad. It has come quicker than I expected."

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