A 12-year-old boy who showed his devotion to Cork City FC by spending his confirmation money to follow them to Cyprus has been rewarded with the gift of a lifetime from the team's departing star player.
At half-time in Cork's narrow 0-1 defeat to AEK Larnaca in the Europa League, Sean Maguire – playing his last game for the club before leaving for Preston North End – sought well-known fan Connor O'Brien, from Farranree, out in the away fans end and presented him his number 24 jersey.
Connor was attending the game with his brother Ryan and his dad, Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien, and has been described by club kitman and former chairman Mick Ring as “one of the most dedicated City supporters I know”.
His mam Gillian said: “I don't think it's after settling in yet. It's fantastic. He just lives for the club. He 's fanatical. His whole bedroom is done in Cork City and he goes everywhere. He was in Belgium last year when they played Genk.”
Connor has been supporting the club since he was taken to games as a toddler and instead of splashing his confirmation cash on a new controller and games for his PlayStation, he decided to spend some of it on the trip to Cyprus.
Connor is known for his encyclopaedic knowledge of club facts and can rattle off results and scorers from past matches with ease.
“He was very upset when Cork lost the league on the last day of the season against Dundalk in 2015 but last night makes up for things like that. He's buzzing about the possibility of them winning the league this season and is counting down the days,” said Gillian.
Connor has a soft spot for Manchester United but his real passion in life is Cork City and the Castleview AFC star hopes to one day play for City before pursuing more lofty playing ambitions in the UK.
“He said he'll play for Cork City while he's waiting for his big move across the water. His own words!” said Gillian.
The jersey is set to take pride of place in Connor's bedroom next to shirts from his other hero, one-time Cork City star Graham Cummins.