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Dublin: -1°C Monday 1 March 2021

Tributes paid after the passing of Cork All-Ireland winner Kieran O'Connor

The Aghada club player won an All-Ireland senior football medal with Cork in 2010.

CORK ALL-IRELAND winner Kieran O’Connor has passed away at the age of 41 following a long illness.

kieran-oconnor Cork All-Ireland winning footballer Kieran O'Connor Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

A member of the Cork squad that lifted Sam Maguire in 2010, he was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in October 2017.

Tributes have been paid this evening after his passing by his club Aghada and the Cork county board, with sympathies expressed to his wife Sinead, his three children Isabelle, Ava and James, and his wider family.

Aghada GAA and the ‘Friends of Kieran’ fundraising group released a statement this evening.

“It is with the deepest of regret that we announce the passing of one of our greatest clubmen and dearest of friends – Kieran O’Connor. The courage, determination, spirit, and bravery of Kieran as a player was seen at its finest over the last 3 years as he battled his illness with dignity and respect.

“Today is one of the saddest occasions our club has ever known. There are no words that will capture just what Kieran O’Connor meant to Aghada GAA. We know that Aghada was embedded in Kieran’s heart and his club meant so so much to him also. We are truly proud of him and his achievements in the Aghada and Cork jerseys. We are honoured to be able to call him an Aghada man.

“To his incredible family we send our heartfelt condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sinead, Isabelle, Ava and James. And also with Pa and Mary, Pa jnr, Johno, Ashling, and Loretta, Regina and Ronan. Our condolences go out also to Kieran’s parents in law Joe and Margaret, and all of Kieran’s extended family and friends.”

kieran-oconnor Kieran O'Connor in action for Cork in Croke Park Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

County chairperson Tracey Kennedy paid tribute on behalf of Cork GAA.

“It was with great sadness that we learned of Kieran’s death today. He was a tower of strength on the field of play, and showed that same strength of character and courage in dealing with his illness over the past few years.

“He will be an unimaginable loss to his family, and on behalf of all in Cork GAA, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Kieran’s wife Sinéad, their three children, Isabelle, Ava and James, and also to his parents Pat and Mary, sister Aisling and brothers Patrick and John Paul. Our condolences also to his club, Aghada, his wonderful friends who did so much to support the family throughout Kieran’s illness, and all who mourn his loss.”

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kieran-oconnor-jumps-into-the-arms-of-eoin-cadogan-at-the-final-whistle Kieran O'Connor celebrating Cork's 2007 All-Ireland semi-final victory over Meath

The defender emerged on the Cork senior setup during Billy Morgan’s time as manager before later establishing himself when Conor Counihan was in charge.

He enjoyed great success in claiming Munster senior and National league medals before helping the county end a 20-year wait for All-Ireland senior football glory in 2010. At local level he was a long-serving player for his club Aghada in football and hurling.

There had been a huge level of support for O’Connor in recent years when he became ill.

In the spring of 2019 his club-mates in Aghada and former Cork team-mates helped promote the support group ‘Friends of Kieran’ which was established to help raise money for his future medical expenses.

A fundraising walk took place last March from the Aghada GAA grounds in East Cork with the campaign receiving huge support around the country in the weeks afterwards.

Jockey Davy Russell paid a special tribute to Kieran in the aftermath of his Grand National triumph at Aintree with Tiger Roll in 2019.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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