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CELTIC DEFENDER JOINS ON LOAN

12 January 2017

Eoghan O'Connell joins the Saddlers until the end of the season...

The Club are delighted to confirm the loan signing of Celtic defender, Eoghan O’Connell, until the end of the season, subject to international clearance.

The 21-year old has featured seven times for the Scottish Champions this season including three Champions League qualifiers and a group game against Barcelona. 

“I’m really looking forward to getting started,” said O’Connell. “I heard about the interest last week and it took perhaps a little longer to get done than we would have hoped. 

“I spoke to the manager and he was really keen for me to come down, and as soon as I’d spoken to him, I was really excited to come here and be a part of it. 

“Coming through at Celtic, we were always taught to play it out from the back and I like winning games – I don’t like losing. 

“I played a few games for Celtic at the start of the year but I’ve not played as much recently and I wanted to get out and play. 

“This opportunity came up and I’m really excited about it. I’m looking forward to working with the gaffer and I’ll try my best for Walsall.”

Manager Jon Whitney added: "Eoghan is a target we’ve been tracking for a few weeks now and we’ve been trying to get the deal done. 

"He’s highly sought after and we’ve had to fight off some competition from clubs in England and the Scottish Premier League.

"He wants to test himself south of the border so we’re delighted to get this one over the line.

"He’s an aggressive defender but he’s also very good on the ball. Technically he’s a player who’s playing beyond his years and he’s very well thought of at Celtic. 

"He’s played in the Champions League and Brendan [Rodgers] spoke highly of him so he’ll be a really good addition to the group and from our profiling and referencing he seems to have a very good character as well which is important.

"It’s an area we felt needed strengthening because it’s clear that we’re short of bodies at the back. The lads have done well back there but we felt we needed to get another one in going into the second half of the season.

"Its up to him now to show us what he’s about and force his way into the team."

Capped twice by Ireland at under-21 level, Eoghan makes the move south of the border to bolster Jon Whitney’s defensive options in what will be his third loan spell away from Parkhead.

After graduating from Celtic's youth system and making his professional debut in March 2014, the highly rated youngster went in search of first team football with Oldham Athletic in the following season. 

Following his two appearances for the Latics, O’Connell picked up an injury in training and was recalled to his parent club for treatment. 

Six months later he was on the move again, this time to his hometown club of Cork City where he made 5 appearances for the League of Ireland outfit.

The cousin of former Ireland Rugby Captain Paul O’Connell, Eoghan returned to the Hoops for pre-season and impressed during their Champions League qualifiers against Astana and Hapoel Be’er Sheva. 

He was named in Brendan Rodgers’s starting eleven for four successive games throughout August before making his Champions League debut at the Nou Camp in September. 

Eoghan will wear the number 32 shirt.

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