Ben O’Connor has stepped down from his role as coach of Midleton, whom he helped guide to this year’s Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier SHC title.
The Newtownshandrum native, who captained Cork to win the 2004 All-Ireland hurling title and was also part of the winning sides in 1999 and 2005, spent two years as part of the Magpies’ set-up. While Midleton failed to qualify from their group in the 2020 championship, they ended an eight-year wait for the Seán Óg Murphy Cup with victory over Glen Rovers in November’s final, having also beaten Erin’s Own and Blackrock in the knockout stages.
The AIB Munster Club SHC semi-final loss to Kilmallock in December was his final game involved and Midleton manager Ger Fitzgerald confirmed the departure.
“Ben had a great two years with us and we are extremely grateful for to him for all he did for us,” he said.
“We’re very sorry to see him go but completely understand his reasons. I couldn't speak highly enough about Ben, he’s a top man.” Prior to taking up the Midleton role, O’Connor had spent three years with Charleville, helping them to win the 2018 county premier intermediate title and spending a year at senior level prior to the restructuring of the county championships.
Speaking after this year’s county final win, he outlined how the Midleton move had come about.
“Luke O'Farrell rang me the first day and I was actually at the races in Mallow,” he said.
“I said I'd ring him when I got home so I rang him and he asked me to get involved. I was thinking and I said, ‘I'll ring you back in a week, Luke. Give me a few days.’ “So I did and I was on to a few fellas. I was ringing around and I heard that never before had they an outsider. So it put you thinking a small bit – ‘What's the story here? If I go down, will everything go right?’ So I went down, met the boys and from the first night I knew straight away there was no problem. With Mr Midleton, Ger, he had everything organised. I just knew there was a group of players who would do anything they were asked to do and as it turned out we have about 40 on the panel and every fella is deserving of their county medal because they all put in a fierce effort and number 40 has done as much training as number 1.
“All clubs will say that but I've seen it first-hand. It's unbelievable down there. They're all mad hurling down there.”