Newport County's Irish Football League survival hero tells his remarkable story

Dubliner Mark O'Brien scored the goal which kept the Welsh club in the Football League

BY Raf Diallo 16:30 Thursday 11 May 2017, 16:30 11 May 2017

Mark O'Brien whilst on loan at Motherwell Jeff Holmes/PA Archive/PA Images

When it came to trying to stay in the English Football League, Newport County flew a little close to the wind.

In the end, they survived by two points in League 2, thanks to a 2-1 home win over Notts County on the final day.

Given their goal difference in comparison to the relegated side that finished immediately below them - Hartlepool - Newport would have gone down but for a well taken 89th minute winner from Irish midfielder Mark O'Brien.

The 24 year old Dubliner had signed for the club in January after from Luton Town and his heroics capped a tumultuous career so far for a player who had started out at Dublin side Cherry Orchard.

"Sometimes it feels so surreal about what's gone on but as I said I've just been loving every minute of it," he told Off The Ball in regards to his all important goal.

"Just for myself personally from what I've been through in the ups and downs, I just think for me personally it just goes to a whole new level."

O'Brien has had to overcome challenges in his career including having to undergo heart surgery in 2009 as a youngster at Derby County to address a leaking aortic valve issue.

"They found a slight fault in my heart at the time but because I think I was so young, I'd never really thought of anything. My only main concern was would I still be able to play football," he said.

"And once they assured me that I was still able to play, I just wanted to get the operation out of the way so I could get myself back on the road.

Mark O'Brien at Derby in 2011. John Walton/EMPICS Sport

"Because I had a taste of first team at such a young age, I knew it was what I wanted to do and there wasn't going to be much to stand in my way to get there."

O'Brien praised his then manager Nigel Clough, Derby County and his family to help him through that difficult period, admitting that he did have "negative thoughts" briefly at the time as he worried about his future. 

He would later be faced with the difficulty of recovering from a cruciate knee injury in 2011.

Yo can listen to the full interview below:

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