And the fine detail? What about naming the best five young players he’s seen in colleges and underage? Among that prized quintet is a Lilywhite booby trap for Kerry ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter final against Kildare.
“I’ve often said the five best players I came across in nearly 20 years being involved at vocational and colleges competition since 2001 were Alan Dillon (Mayo) at vocational level, and in the colleges, Michael Meehan (St Jarlath’s), Declan O’Sullivan (Coláiste na Sceilge), Mark Lynch (St Pat’s, Maghera) and Paul Cribbin, the current Kildare midfielder. That is the exalted company I reckon young Cribbin is in.”
O’Connor had plenty of reasons to remember Coláiste na Sceilge’s first All-Ireland Hogan Cup win in 2009, when his son Eanna popped up with an injury-time goal to break the hearts of St Mary’s. Edenderry. Firebrand opposition midfielder Cribbin left a lasting impression.
“He was a serious player in that final and destroyed us at midfield. Cribbin was really a top player back then and he is proving it now, and he will be a real threat to Kerry on Sunday.”
Enough of a threat to be the platform for a second successive Lilywhite scalp? “I wasn’t surprised they beat Cork, because the game was set up for Kildare. Kerry is always a big game for Cork, and they put a lot into it. I know myself, that years we lost to Cork, we were lucky enough to gather ourselves after it. We were also lucky not to meet the strongest teams, with respect, in the couple of rounds after losing to Cork.
“Psychologically, Cork were wounded after losing to Kerry, especially when they had chances to win it the first day and many would believe that they should have beaten Kerry in that first game. They then run into a young, fit, hungry Kildare team, that has received a lot of criticism, coming in under the radar, with no pressure on them, so they were going to test Cork’s mettle. And the bottom line is that Cork was not just up to it.”
Bord Gáis Energy U21HC final: Clare v Limerick, Cusack Park, Ennis, 7pm, (F Horgan, Tipperary), (TG4) Saturday: All-Ireland Qualifiers (R4B): Sligo v Tyrone, Croke Park, 4pm (Sky Sports); Donegal v Galway, Croke Park, 6pm, (Sky Sports).
Derry v Longford, Brewster Park, 2pm; Cavan v Kildare, Páirc Tailteann, Navan, 6.30pm.
Peadar Ó Liatháin Cup: Down v Donegal, Newry, 1pm; Kildare v Kerry, Newbridge, 2pm; Roscommon v Meath, Athleague, 2pm; Wicklow v Armagh, Arklow, 2pm Sunday: All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals: Kerry v Kildare, Croke Park, 2pm (RTÉ Two); Dublin v Fermanagh, Croke Park, 4pm (RTÉ Two).
Electric Ireland All-Ireland MFC quarter-finals: Kerry v Sligo, O’Connor Park, Tullamore, 2pm; Galway v Tipperary, O’Connor Park, Tullamore, 4pm.