CAPTAIN Kevin O’Connor has ended his two-year stay at Worcester City and signed for Bray Wanderers in the Airtricity League of Ireland.

The 26-year-old central midfielder, who arrived at St George’s Lane in the summer of 2010, is returning to his homeland with his family.

O’Connor’s departure is a major blow to City who had been hoping to retain his services ahead of the new Blue Square Bet North campaign.

But manager Carl Heeley understands the decision and insists Worcester can still be a force without their talismanic skipper, having secured midfield colleague Tom Thorley to a new deal as well as top-scorer Mike Symons.

The Worcester boss said: “Prior to the end of last season Kevin made us aware that there was interest from a few Irish clubs and he could be looking for an opportunity to go back home.

“With his family to consider, it was a big decision for him so we gave him the time to think over his options.

“He has loved it at Worcester but he has to do what he feels is best for him and his family and I totally respect that. I am obviously sorry to see him go because he was a super player but these things happen and it boils down to the best decision for him and his family.

“He’s a big loss to us but I am just grateful I had the opportunity to work with a top professional.”

Heeley added: “We have known this was a possibility and if we feel it necessary we will replace him and I’m sure we will replace him with another good player.

“We are fortunate that Tom Thorley, Rob Elvins and Matt Birley are flexible and can play in different positions so it’s a great opportunity for those lads.”

Named players’ player-of-the-year in both his seasons at the club, O’Connor, who took over from Ryan Clarke as skipper last October, made 90 appearances, all as starts, and scored three goals. His midfield partnership with Thorley was also heralded by Heeley as the best he had seen during his time at the Lane.