O'Conor excited about league opener

Paul O’Conor has said competition is fierce in the Rovers midfield for this Saturday’s game with Athlone, and it’s also a trait in the off-field activities for the Bit o’ Red players as well. 
The new addition to the 2014 squad made his first competitive start last week against Crusaders in the 4-1 win in the Setanta Sports Cup and has been settling in well to his new home in Riverstown with fellow new boys Kalen Spillane and Danny Ledwith since joining in the off-season.
Manager Ian Baraclough has altered his team selections over the course of the last six weeks of pre-season friendly matches with a number of options available for the midfield.
O’Conor said he is aware of the battles all the players will face:
“It's a long season ahead, I think we all want to start every game but it just doesn't happen any more. We will all be needed. 
“It's a small squad but it's a versatile one as well. I knew coming here the standard of player in the squad was going to be impressive and I'm really enjoying it so far. 
“The match with crusaders was great, to start the game with a good performance and a really good result as well.
“The President's Cup was also beneficial but it's all about that first league game for us and it has been from the start. Our number one priority is to bring that league trophy back to Sligo.”
O’Conor will be hoping to make his first appearance in a competitive game in The Showgrounds on Saturday night having been a frequent visitor as an opposition player in the last number of seasons. 
“We're excited about getting out in front of the home crowd, it should be a great atmosphere,” he said 
“I've been on the other end of it before as a visiting player and I can't wait to see it as a Sligo Rovers player now with that big support behind us and hopefully we can make the start we want. 
“Athlone will be very hard to beat - they're going to be in our faces from the off and they'll make it extremely difficult. Mick Cooke is manager there now and I know him well obviously and he'll make sure they will be really up for the game.”
As the intensive pre-season programme helped the Rovers stars gather fitness ahead of the big kick-off, a leisurely competition of table-tennis in the evenings that has also captured the competitive side of the Rovers team.
O’Conor revealed a number of players tried to come out on top: “It started off with the boys in the house, myself, Danny Ledwith, Kalen Spillane. But nearly all of the lads got involved in the end. Eric Odhiambo, Sean Maguire, Jeff Henderson, Seamus Conneely and Danny North turned up with the best prepared of anyone you could say. 
“Seamus would be the winner overall I suppose you could say.
“I don't want to go into too much but there was some cheating, a table at home was behind I think.”
O’Conor and Rovers face Athlone in The Showgrounds on Saturday night, kick-off 7:45pm. Tickets available at turnstiles. 

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