Michael O’Connor this evening signed a one-year deal at Lincoln City after turning down a similar offer from Notts County.
The former Northern Ireland international’s capture is something of a coup for the Imps, with him not having turned down one offer at Notts County, but two. They made extra funds available to match the deal Lincoln offered, but to no avail.
His arrival offsets the departure of Alex Woodyard as a roving midfielder, always there with a tackle or a pass. He’ll be a like for like replacement, but that is by no means the only thing this transfer signals. After all, Bozzie could easily play the Woodyard role too.
Firstly, O’Connor is no stranger to the Imps. He arrived on loan for the final couple of months of the 2008/09 season, debuting as a sub in the 5-1 mauling we suffered at Grimsby.
First time around, O’Connor was a real class act, a battler with a smart touch and a trick or two up his sleeve. Rather ironically, he arrived as a short-term replacement for the departing Lee Frecklington. Had our business with Peterborough been a little more fruitful for Lincoln we might have had an opportunity of signing O’Connor permanently. He certainly warranted it.
However, it was apparent from his performances that our chances of signing him back then permanently were virtually zero, especially as he was rated highly at Crewe. He only arrived on loan by virtue of a ‘breach of discipline’ that made him unpopular with then-Crewe manager Gudjon Pordarson.
He scored in our 3-2 defeat at Barnet and was ever present until injury forced him out of the final fixture of the season. On conclusion of his time at Lincoln he earned a Northern Ireland call up, lasting 62 minutes of a 3-0 friendly defeat by Italy. His international career stalled in 2015 and he’s not been selected since, although he did amass 11 caps.
he alter signed for Championship side Scunthorpe, with the Iron paying £250,000 for his services. He’s also played for Rotherham and Port Vale, only once dropping into League Two aside from his County stay. His solitary season in the basement division saw Rotherham promoted, a feat they replicated the following season with both O’Connor and Frecklington in the midfield. The notion that one day the two might reunite at Lincoln would have been ludicrous as recently as last summer.
In total O’Connor has 400 senior games under his belt, two promotions and a Player of the Year from Port Vale in 2015.
Let’s not get this wrong, this isn’t a coup of Michael Bostwick proportions. O’Connor has been injured all season and although his fitness is now not in question, the one-year deal ‘with an option’ suggests he’s got some time to prove his ability following the long lay off. In that respect, it is prudent business for City, getting a League Two / League One quality midfielder with minimum risk.
Something else he brings is a good delivery, his set pieces are well-renowned and lets face it, our free kicks haven’t been the best for a while now. O’Connor, if he starts, does have a wicked delivery.
With Bostwick, Frecklington and O’Connor in midfield, as well as Andrade and maybe even Pett, there is a pattern emerging. We seem to be acquiring ball players, a transfer policy starkly different from last season. Our first foray into the Football League saw us load up heavily on wide players, looking for balls into the box. I’m wondering if, with these passing midfielders being recruited, we might be in for a change of direction?
Michael O’Connor is a good, solid signing. Unlike our other two summer recruits he is a proven article, steady and perhaps with some of his best football behind him. He’s part of a balanced and measured transfer policy, blending exciting youth (Toffolo) with exciting non-league prospect (Andrade) and now vastly experience.
After yesterday’s kit news polarised opinion, there won’t be very many dissenting voices tonight as the Imps beat a promotion rival to the signature of a key player. Welcome back, Michael O’Connor. It’s good to see you again.
Reaction on social media was incredibly positive, with the pick of the responses below.
Great signing he will slot into midfield and be a good leader well done City for getting a very good player
— steve sheppard (@stevesheppard23) June 20, 2018
Quality signing welcome to The Bank
— paul Hunt (@paulHun31578481) June 20, 2018
Now this is some good news!!
— Ric Stephens (@RicPepeStephens) June 20, 2018
This is a great signing and shirt looks good on him too!.😉
— alan john long (@Long19Alan) June 20, 2018
Class! Great signings so far
— Ronan Howsham (@RonanHowsham98) June 20, 2018
If he’s half the player he was last time he was here, with a few years of experience on top, then we’ve got a good player here.
— Dale Ricketts (@ImpDale) June 20, 2018