Despite experiencing two interrupted AFL campaigns since his arrival at the Sydney Swans in 2019, Barry O'Connor continues to maintain a positive outlook on his professional development and is cherishing every opportunity that comes his way. 

Since making the brave decision to leave his home county of Wexford on the east coast of Ireland, and transition from Gaelic Football to Australian rules football, O'Connor has put his best foot forward as he crafted his trade at the Swans and showcase his talents as a crafty defender.

While the 2021 season was thrown into disarray due to the COVID-19 outbreak in NSW, O'Connor, along with a host of other AFL and VFL listed players, battled with vast gaps between games along with an ever-changing fixture. 

But just as O'Connor has done throughout his time at the Bloods, he refused to make excuses and embraced the challenges that were put before him, and viewed the Hub experience as a prime chance to learn off his team-mates, on and off the field.

"I didn't think it could get much stranger than 2020, but 2021 managed to surpass that," he said.

"It was still a really enjoyable year and we have a fantastic group of people here. I got to bounce off some great people and learned a lot along the way."

"I think when you're in an environment like this (the hub), and you're living out of each other's pockets 24/7, you do get an insight into how different guys operate and you realise there's not a 'one size fits all' approach.

"I'm just able to take little bits from different players. You have guys like Joey (Josh Kennedy) and Luke Parker who are just ultimate professionals. They're just unwavering in how they do things.

"You also have the likes of Justin McInerney, who is full of energy and just sees the light out of everything all the time.

"Just being able to see how those guys are playing at the highest level and play really well, and see how they get in the mindset to do that."

O'Connor managed just eight VFL games in 2021, but produced some impressive performances that saw him revered as a trusted team-mate.

As he was not able to travel to Melbourne with the immediate playing group, he was part of a small contingent of players and coaches were isolated in Newcastle before venturing to Victoria.

Due to the changing dynamic of the year, which saw the club adopt a 'whatever it takes' mentality, he admits it was hard to build continuity into his game but remains grateful for the chance to pull on the red and white jumper once again.

He also continues to remain positive despite the VFL sides recording just two victories in 2021.

"I only got to play the eight competitive games this year in the VFL, which obviously which was great considering the circumstances we were in. 

"We were lucky in many ways to leave Sydney but despite not getting to play a full season, there was plenty to take from it and I definitely use the games (I played) in a good way.

It would have been nice to get a few more wins but I think a lot of the performances throughout the year were pretty pleasing from everyone

I just want to continually keep improving. It's a pretty simple goal and everyone has their ambitions of playing games...but for me it's always just been about just trusting the process that I am on and trying to get better every day and every week.

"Every weekend, if I can put into practice what I've been working on with the coaches, I'll be pretty happy."

02:29 Mins
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