Eoghan O’Connell became Charlton Athletic’s opening signing of the summer – and also the first addition made since Ben Garner was appointed manager.
The centre-back has signed a three-year contract with the Addicks and was available on a free transfer after rejecting new terms at League Two Rochdale.
So what do we know about the new Charlton addition?
Garner has talked about being a possession-based and attacking team and O’Connell is a ball-playing defender.
You only need to look at the League Two stats (according towww.fotmob.com) for the 2021-22 season to know that. O’Connell averaged 45.8 accurate passes per match to put him seventh in that particular category. Garner’s former Swindon players Louis Reed (59.6), Dion Conroy (55.3) and Akinwale Odimayo (51.4) took the top three spots.
O’Connell was also in fifth place for the average accurate long balls played per match (5.4) with Reed (8.2) and Conroy (6.9) first and second respectively.
Played as a junior for two County Cork teams – College Corinthians and Avondale United – before he joined Celtic’s academy in 2011. He had spells out on loan with Oldham Athletic, hometown club Cork City and Walsall before joining Bury on a three-year contract in June 2017.
His last appearance for Celtic was as a 68th-minute substitute in a 7-0 drubbing at Barcelona in the Champions League group stage in September 2016. He made 13 senior appearances for the Scottish giants.
O’Connell played 31 league matches as Bury finished second in League Two in the 2018-19 season under Ryan Lowe, now in charge at Preston.
Signed a two-year deal with Rochdale in July 2019 and extended his stay by a further 12 months last summer.
He made 130 appearances for the Dale with three goals and four assists. Played the full 90 minutes in 45 of their League Two matches last season, only being absent for the opening day loss at Harrogate Town.
Capped four times by Republic of Ireland at U21 level. He played Gaelic football and hurling until he was 16, before focusing on football. Also capped at U19 level by his country.
Brendan Rogers, who worked with him at Celtic, speaking in 2016: “He is a good size, first and foremost he wants to defend and in the short period I have worked with him, he is good in the air. He has a brain for football, he understands the game very well for a young player and importantly he plays the game well. For a young player, if they show those qualities and professionalism I never have any fears of putting him in.”
Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton ahead of facing Rochdale last season: “They’ve got the lad who played for Celtic, Eoghan O’Connell, in the centre of the back three. A really competent footballer, a quarterback who starts lots of attacks for them and if we don’t police it correctly, they are a team like us who like to dominate the ball.”
Bones or Bonesy, apparently a moniker that has stuck with him since he was a kid.
His dad and brother both played for Cork City and his cousin is former rugby union player Paul O’Connell, who captained Ireland, British & Irish Lions and Munster – winning 108 caps for his country.
Ben Garner: “Eoghan’s a player that I’ve admired for a long time and it was nice that when I came in he also featured high on the club’s recruitment list. In possession he’s fantastic, he’s very intelligent, comfortable receiving the ball, very brave, which is a big quality, and he has a fantastic range of pass. In addition to that, he’s also a great defender.”
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