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Exclusive: Hibs prospect on chats with Monty, a first senior final and long-term ambitions



For Josh O’Connor, receiving his first senior award would surely be the pinnacle of his career. The Hibs striker, who is now on loan, is entirely focused on helping Airdrie defeat The New Saints to win this afternoon’s SPFL Trust Trophy, or the Challenge Cup in old money, at Falkirk Stadium.

However, O’Connor, who grew up in a family with a single, well-known, close link to Easter Road, undoubtedly has goals beyond helping Rhys McCabe’s Diamonds have a fantastic day out. His main aspiration is to ram his way into Nick Montgomery’s schemes.

O’Connor, the 19-year-old son of former Hibs scoring legend Garry, stated: “Making the Hibs team has always been my plan, my dream, to try to force my way into that team. And I’ll do everything in my power, work as hard as I can, to get there.”

“I believe that having a season of senior football experience will help me accomplish that goal. I want to make excellent use of the knowledge I’m gaining at Airdrie in the upcoming season.

“I didn’t watch my dad play for Hibs when he was younger, but I got him when he was younger and scored 16 goals in the 2011–22 season.” Coming up in a football and Hibs-loving household helps.

It indicates, among other things, that I have always backed Hibs. They are my club, my squad. Having grown up around Hibs, I feel so at home. Additionally, there’s a tiny bit of pressure involved. However, I adore it.

Despite Murray Aiken’s injury, which keeps him out of action until today’s final, and Kanayo Megwa’s cup tie, O’Connor, who is more often a substitute than a starter under McCabe, has a few Hibs teammates to keep him company at Airdrie. The striker isn’t a complete newbie, having taken home several trophies from his time in the juvenile levels and having lived through the excitement of Hibs’ run in the UEFA juvenile League last season, where they defeated Molde and Nantes before losing to Borussia Dortmund.

O'Connor in UEFA Youth League action against German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund.

He acknowledged that the game of today is unlike anything he experienced as a young player rising through the ranks, saying, “I’ve won some trophies.” We won the Foyle Cup and defeated Northern Ireland. With Hibs, I’ve won both the Under-18 and Reserve leagues. However, this is my first senior final that is truly competitive.

“Knowing that I had never actually participated in men’s football, it was the rationale behind the loan.” I thus desired my firsthand encounter with that. The current gaffer, Rhys, attended a few of our European games and reserve games last season, and he expressed interest in bringing me in. That is the origin of it.

“There were a number of teams chasing me at the time, with loan offers, so it took some persuasion for me to accept. My plan was always to take out a loan. At the time, Lee Johnson was the gaffer, and he advised me to play men’s football. Actually, I had planned to visit Airdrie in January of last season, but plans abruptly fell through.

Because of his youthful squad, Rhys clinched the deal for me. And you observe how Airdrie performs. They help young players grow. They trust them and treat them fairly. That’s what ultimately persuaded me to visit there.

“I wouldn’t have been able to play Dortmund or those other important games in Europe last season if I had gone to Airdrie. Thus, in the end, it wasn’t the worst choice.

Airdrie has taught me a lot of things. coping with not being able to play. the gaming experiences of individuals far wiser than you. After playing for Hibs’ reserves, it’s different to be in a changing room with only first team players.

“And even simply performing in front of an audience makes a tremendous effect. There is pressure since these fans consistently show up to our games in order to support their club. Playing for something meaningful has been something I’ve been enjoying every minute of.

This weekend is among the most significant. Having participated in a few of the games, I feel like I’ve made a significant contribution to getting to the final, so I’m really looking forward to it. It is really important to me.

By starting youngsters like Rory Whittaker, Megwa, and four or five more youngsters in the starting lineup for important games, Montgomery has already shown his dedication to developing young players. It seems that he is also adept at monitoring the young players he loans out.

“Nick has phoned me a couple of times,” stated O’Connor. He called me when he initially arrived because he was interested in getting to know me. There was a small amount of a link there as well since he knew my old dad and I believe they had been involved through Scotland at one point.

He’s been really good about taking the time to talk to me when I’ve visited the building a few times. He actually cares about guys who are on loan.



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