School’s out for Conor O’Malley as French exam looms

Goalkeeper took advantage of scholarship programme at St Pats to earn maths degree

Conor O’Malley (right) pictured with fellow Ireland goalkeeper Colin Doyle during training at Abbotstown on Friday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Conor O’Malley (right) pictured with fellow Ireland goalkeeper Colin Doyle during training at Abbotstown on Friday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

While a few of the players in the squad for Ireland game against France on Monday are deferring family holidays to make the trip to Paris, Peterborough’s Conor O’Malley has had to kick exams down the road for a year or two in order to answer Martin O’Neill’s call-up.

The 23-year-old goalkeeper did a maths degree while playing at St Patrick’s Athletic and is now looking to lay down a career to fall back upon at some point in the future. The unexpected chance to play for Ireland, though, means that qualifying as a Chartered Financial Analyst will have to wait a while.

“The scholarship programme at St Pats allowed me to get the degree and play professional football at the same time,” he says. “It’s nice to have it there and know that once I finish playing football, I’ll be able to go and get a good job.

“You can make good money at it but it’s just nice to have that security that when you finish, if anything happens to finish your career suddenly, there’s something there that you can go and do and still have a decent lifestyle.”

This year’s exam was, he says, supposed to be in June 23rd but he abandoned the study for it fairly happily when word arrived that O’Neill had named in his squad. Had his recent breaks come earlier, he acknowledges, his education might have been parted a long time before this.

“I wanted to see where football would go, so I took a year out after college just to concentrate on that and ended up exactly a year after finishing college signing for Peterborough, so it worked out well. If I’d had the offer when I was in college I might have made a rash decision and left so I’m happy I didn’t, that I got the opportunity to finish my degree and go over at the right time.”

With Darren Randolph and Keiren Westwood absent, O’Malley got on in Glasgow last weekend and while it won’t count as a cap, he is thrilled to have played a part in such a big occasion

“It was a great experience but a bit surreal to be in such a historic ground with 55,000 or whatever it was there, far bigger than any ground than I had ever played in before.

“Even a couple of weeks ago I didn’t think this was going to be happening. It was nice to be involved in training with all of the players that you were looking at at the Euros; nice to train with them, play with them, see what it’s all about.

“These chances don’t come along tool often. Once you get your chance you have to take it. You have to come in and believe that you are good enough to stay there.”

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