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'It kind of feels like two different sports'

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: Ray Connellan of the Saints in action during the St Kilda Saints open training session at the Linen House Centre on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media)
Irish recruit Ray Connellan cools down after another hot session at Linen House Centre.
This year you’ve got a good idea and a good understanding, it’s a lot more enjoyable and you feel like you can contribute to a lot more things.
Ray Connellan

Football feels like a completely different game compared to this time last year for Ray Connellan.

The Irishman arrived at Linen House Centre last October having never played a game and with minimal knowledge of how the game is played.

But after a full year inside the Saints, and with 17 games at Sandringham now under his belt, the former Gaelic football star believes an AFL debut isn’t too far from his grasp.

“It kind of feels like two different sports,” Connellan told saints.com.au on Wednesday.

“Coming over last year and not really knowing what goes on; the setups and how the game works.

“Now this year you’ve got a good idea and a good understanding, it’s a lot more enjoyable and you feel like you can contribute to a lot more things.”

After spending the majority of his first year learning the caper at half-back, Connellan moved forward late in the year where his explosive speed off the mark and defensive efforts were well suited.

“Towards the end of the year when I moved into a small forward role, I started to be able to express myself a bit more,” he said.

“Hopefully with a decent pre-season behind me I’ll be able to nick a debut hopefully.”

Connellan said Saints Assistant Coach Ben McGlynn has played a pivotal role in his development to date, helping him on the track and in front of the computer, as well as everything else the Westmeath product needs.

“Benny has been great for me. He’s my point of call with everything at the club,” he said.

“Any of my review stuff or training stuff goes through Benny. He sits down and codes up all my things for videos, so he’s been a massive help.

“You couldn’t pick a better fella to learn off.”