The 2015 All-Ireland minor-winning captain had attracted the attention of five clubs, but the intimacy of Geelong appealed most to O’Connor and he has signed with the Cats on a two-year rookie deal.
“I’ve made the decision to go to Geelong,” O’Connor revealed on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s An Saol ó Dheas. “It’s a very quiet place, like Dingle, and I was very comfortable there. I was really taken with Geelong... when I went in there, everyone was very friendly, and I felt at home there. I want to go over as soon as possible.
“The other players won’t be coming until the end of the month, so I’ll have a few weeks on my own to work on my skills.
“It will be a different challenge. I’ve been playing football since I was six or seven... It’s attractive to stay here too [to play football for Kerry], that’s why the decision was so hard... I want a different experience and maybe a little bit of travelling. I was looking for something different.”
O’Sullivan had met with five clubs in Australia earlier this month.
He said that Geelong are one of the stronger teams in AFL, and that had an influence on his choice.
O’Sullivan will be moving over in the next three or four weeks. He said that the Kerry management team wished him all the best, and that they were very happy for him on a personal level.
“They were very happy to hear about it on a personal level, but with their Kerry caps on they weren’t as happy. I thanked them for all their help ... It was a bit mixed I suppose. They were very happy for me personally, but as managers and players they weren’t as happy ... They (Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Jack O’Connor) didn’t put any pressure on me to stay, they said it was my own decision.”
O’Connor’s decision was greeted with mixed emotions in Kerry, with Tomás Ó Sé tweeting: “Delighted for @MarkOConnor15 personally. Great opportunity for him. But sick of Aussies poaching best young talent we have. hope he is huge.”
Meanwhile, Mayo’s Pearce Hanley has signed for the Gold Coast Suns, having left the Brisbane Lions, the team he joined in 2008. He posted on Twitter: “Very big thank you to everyone and anyone who has helped me along this amazing journey at the lions but that chapter has come to an end. and now Im excited to get started at the Suns and earn the respect off my new team mates. Can’t wait to grab this opportunity.”