KOLORA-Noorat midfielder Stephen O’Connor returns to familiar surrounds today for the Super Saturday blockbuster against Panmure at Terang Recreation Reserve.
The 22-year-old, who played all of his juniors with the Power before crossing to Terang Mortlake, featured in the inaugural joint-league initiative last season when he was wearing the Bloods’ colours.
Now back in the teal, black and white guernsey, O’Connor is looking forward to the big Super Saturday stage from a different angle.
“It’s a good initiative by the two clubs,” he told The Standard this week.
“Last year we had a big day and hopefully it’s the same this weekend.
“Hopefully the relationship keeps going between the clubs.”
O’Connor, who grew up on a family dairy farm at Glenormiston, made his senior debut with Kolora-Noorat as a 16-year-old.
He played in the losing Warrnambool and District league grand final in 2008, before heading to the bright lights of the Hampden league as an 18-year-old for three seasons. Meanwhile, the Power went on to win the next three senior flags.
Studying at Ballarat University, O’Connor is in his final year of a sports management course, which requires a semester-long internship.
“I didn’t know if I would be able to commit to a full season at Terang this year,” he said.
O’Connor has instead slipped back into the Power’s senior team.
He has so far featured in the side’s best players each week and has booted four goals.
“It’s probably more of a reflection of how the team has been going. I’m nothing special,” he laughed. “We haven’t been going that well. But once we get all of our players back from injury and settle the line-up, we should be right.
“Hopefully we can scrape together a few more wins in the first half of the season and then aim for the top three.”
O’Connor expects Kolora-Noorat to be challenged for the minor premiership by today’s opponent Panmure and Timboon Demons, who dealt the Power their first loss of the season last weekend.
He also thinks Merrivale and Allansford will be around the mark.
“The top four teams in District league are as good as some Hampden teams,” O’Connor said. “But the drop-off is enormous.”
O’Connor, who enjoyed multiple junior District premierships and a Hampden reserves flag with the Bloods in 2009, knows how handy early wins can be when it comes to the pointy end of the season.
And there is no question Kolora-Noorat will also be seeking redemption after last weekend.
“Panmure will be hard at the ball,” O’Connor said.
“They’ve got a lot of players who can put their head over (the ball) and they’ve got a few key forwards that we need to stop.”
The senior game starts at noon.