Connacht Rugby and the IRFU have announced that Johnny O’Connor will return to the Sportsground as the province’s senior strength & conditioning coach.
Working with new Head of Athletic Performance David Howarth, Johnny O’Connor will be responsible for the Connacht senior squad’s strength and conditioning training and begins work at the Sportsground in the coming days.
O’Connor joins Connacht after a spell as Galway United’s strength & conditioning coach having previously spent three years at the Academy of Premier League club Arsenal as their strength & conditioning coach.
An inspirational leader during his playing days, the Galway native spent 10 years at Connacht Rugby along with a trophy-laden three-year spell at Wasps. Having earned his first professional contract with Connacht in 2000, he played at the Sportsground for three seasons before moving to Wasps.
The dynamic flanker won two Heineken Cups, two Premiership titles and a Powergen Cup with the English club before returning to Connacht in 2007 where he made a huge impact over a seven-year period.
On the international scene, O’Connor made his Ireland debut in 2004 and went on to earn 12 caps, helping the national side to Triple Crown success in 2006.
Having retired from professional rugby in 2013, he took up his first strength & conditioning role at Arsenal before returning home to Ireland with Galway United last year.
Commenting on the appointment, Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Johnny back to Connacht Rugby as senior strength & conditioning coach. He is someone that is hugely passionate about the area of S&C but also extremely passionate about the province and the people we represent.
“He has gained some valuable experience at both Arsenal and Galway United and I have no doubt that he will be a huge asset for us and the S&C team going forward.”
O’Connor admitted: “This is a dream job for me and I am delighted to get the opportunity to go back to where it all started and where I played for 10 years. It is a real honour and I look forward to working with the squad and coaching team.
“I’d like to thank everyone at Galway United and wish them all the best for the rest of the season. Shane Keegan is an outstanding manager and both he and Colm Horgan, the captain, have been a great support to me during my time at the club.
“They made my job incredibly enjoyable and I really appreciate the efforts they have put in. I know the team will reap the rewards from their excellent work as the season goes on.”
Connacht Rugby can also confirm that Barry O’Brien will join the senior strength & conditioning team on a full-time basis following a year’s intern experience at the province.