Kevin O’Connor has signed with Waterford FC on loan from Preston North End.
A League of Ireland winner with Cork City, the 24-year-old Enniscorthy-native rejoins the club where he began his senior career in 2013.
His last Preston appearance was in December 2017, having embarked on a series of loans since then to Fleetwood Town, Crewe Alexandra, and Cork City, where he spent last season. His Preston contract runs until June 2020.
After some uncertain months before owner Lee Power confirmed he will continue to fund Waterford for 2020, the versatile left-back becomes manager Alan Reynolds' third signing of the year, following academy graduate Darragh Power and former Cork City goalkeeper Tadhg Ryan.
“I’m delighted to be back, Waterford is a massive club, and I’m over the moon to be finally back playing in the RSC. I started out my senior career here when I was 17 so, for me, it’s massive to get to come back to play again," he told WaterfordFC.ie.
“It was great to get the call off Rennie [Reynolds], he’s been a massive influence on my career from development squads right up to senior football.
He trusts and believes in me, and any footballer who says that isn’t a huge factor when signing for a club is lying.
“I’ve zero doubts in my mind that Rennie will build as strong a squad as he possibly can. I know him long enough now to know he doesn’t do things by halves. Even now there's a nice mix of experience and youth in the team. I’m not a young lad any more in terms of how long I’ve been playing in this league so, hopefully, I’ll be able to help the younger boys to develop.
“I’ve no doubt January will see the coaching staff running the legs off us, but those few weeks behind closed doors are when a squad grows together and bonds are made. It’s easy to see who wants to be there in those early weeks of preseason.
“On a personal level for myself, I really can’t wait to be back playing football. I can’t wait to be enjoying my football again.”
Reynolds said: “I’m delighted to have gotten Kev in on loan. He’s a great player and he knows what this club is all about.
“He’s been around the league for a good few years, and he’s still relatively young. I’ll be hoping he’ll be able to lead the younger players on the pitch, while still being able to run himself.”