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O’Malley makes Irish senior debut

Sport

A MAGICAL MOMENT Conor O’Malley (left) from Westport is pictured coming on as a second half substitute to replace Colin Doyle during Scott Brown’s testimonial match between Celtic and Republic of Ireland XI at Celtic Park in Glasgow last Sunday. Pic: Sportsfile

Ger Flanagan

LAST Sunday proved to be a proud moment for one of Mayo’s best and brightest sporting talents when Conor O’Malley from Westport made his first appearance for the Republic of Ireland senior side against Celtic in Parkhead for Scott Brown’s testimonial.
There was a huge outpouring of pride in Carrowkennedy and the wider Westport region last week when news broke that the Peterborough United goalkeeper had received a call-up to Martin O’Neill’s provisional Irish squad for three upcoming friendlies.   
It was the 59th minute when O’Malley received the call from the Republic of Ireland manager and came on to replace Bradford’s Colin Doyle in goal with his favoured number 16 jersey on his back.
Unfortunately for the 23-year-old he was picking the ball out of the net within a minute after Patrick Roberts scuffed an effort into the goal. But otherwise, the former St Patrick’s Athletic man looked comfortable and assured, and even pulled off an excellent save to deny Celtic legend Henrick Larsson to help Ireland hold out for a 2-2 all draw.
Unfortunately for Conor and his legion of fans in Westport, certain FIFA rules mean that caps cannot be awarded for a testimonial game, so he will have to wait a little longer until he follows in the footsteps of the late Ollie Conmy, who remains the only Mayo-born man to have been capped at senior level with the Republic of Ireland.
Conmy was born just down the road from O’Malley in Mulranny in 1939 before emigrating to Huddersfield when he was eight. He went on to play under the legendary former Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly, during his time with Huddersfield Town.
Incredibly, Conmy went on to become a legend at Peterborough United – O’Malley’s current club – making 304 appearances for the ‘Posh’ from 1964-1972. By the end of his career he was the second in all time appearances for the club.
Conmy was capped five times for the Republic of Ireland between 1965 and 1969 and although Conor O’Malley has some way to go before replicating his club and country status, The Mayo News understands that the former Westport Utd star will be in the squad for Ireland’s upcoming friendly with France next Monday (May 28).
So right now it seems only a matter of time before Conor becomes only the second Mayo-born footballer to receive an official cap for the international side.

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