Tributes have been paid to All-Ireland medal winning Cork footballer and father of three, Kieran O’Connor who passed away after a long illness with cancer on Wednesday aged 41.
The Aghada clubman was part of the Rebels' 2010 All Ireland winning panel, and had been battling a rare form of bone cancer for the past number of years.
Former Cork football coach and fellow Aghada club man Conor Counihan said Mr O’Connor’s death had left a void for his family and for everyone in the community of Aghada in East Cork.
Many others took to Twitter to express their sympathies and to remember the footballer.
Former Down forward Danny Hughes, who faced O’Connor and Cork in the 2010 All-Ireland final, posted: “Sincere condolences to Cork GAA, Aghada GAA, his family, friends and team-mates. His achievements were wonderful and his family should be very proud. Rest in peace.”
Marty Morrissey expressed his “deepest sympathies” to the O'Connor family and commended Kieran for his All Ireland win in 2010.
“My deepest sympathies to the O’Connor Family with the sad passing of Kieran. Kieran won an All Ireland in 2010. He showed incredible courage on & off the field. Too young to go at 41. RIP Kieran O’Connor a great man, a great Cork Footballer.”
Jacqui Hurley said that Mr O’Connor put up “some fight” against horrendous battle with cancer.
“So incredibly sad to hear the news last night that Kieran O’Connor passed away. It’s been a horrendous battle, but my god did he put up some fight. Thinking of all his family and friends.”
Ray Boyne, Performance Analyst with Dubin football from 2013 to 2017, said: “Very sad news, with the passing of Cork’s Kieran O'Connor. Straight down the centre and a defence splitting pass. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”
Dublin footballer Bernard Brogan said: “Tragic news to hear about the passing of Kieran O’Connor, deepest condolences to his family! RIP.”
Counihan told The Irish Examiner of Mr O’Connor’s enjoyment of racing and how he “might have got to Cheltneham in November for the craic”. He said that he got “great enjoyment” out of “an auld horse” that Counihan said a few of them were involved in.
Back in 2019, Davy Russell dedicated his second consecutive Grand National win on Tiger Roll to Mr O’Connor.
After his win he said: “There’s a guy at home Kieran O’Connor from Aghada and he’s going through an enormous battle of his life and just to let him know that we’re thinking of him. He played football for Cork and he gave his life to sport and he’s a real fan of mine and this one’s for Kieran.”
Cork County Board chairperson Tracey Kennedy paid tribute to the Cork footballer in a statement and said that 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,” she said.