'One of those guys you'd meet once in a lifetime'
Published 07/01/2016 | 02:30
Friends recalled "one of life's gentlemen" as they paid tribute to Christy O'Connor Jnr, who died suddenly while on holidays with his wife, Ann.
The popular golfer had been enjoying a winter break in Tenerife when he died unexpectedly, at the age of 67.
It is understood the golfer developed a complaint earlier this week in Tenerife which led to him going to hospital. He was admitted on Tuesday, however there was a rapid deterioration in his condition and he died later that night. It is believed he suffered an aneurysm.
Friends and colleagues of the Galway man paid tribute to their friend as a man "full of life and full of fun" who never forgot his roots; he remained for most of his life in Galway before moving with his family to Ballina, Co Tipperary.
Close friend John Mulholland told of his shock at hearing the news early yesterday.
"He was one of those guys you meet once in a lifetime and sadly it's over now. I will miss him an awful lot," he said.
He recalled his friend's love of music and how Christy enjoyed nothing more than singing or playing the accordion.
"He was the life and soul of every party. He just had that presence, he was so nice to everyone he met, he could make people feel so welcome. He was a gem," he added.
He told how the loss of O'Connor Jnr's 17-year-old son Darren in a car crash in 1998 was a serious blow to the family.
"A terrible disaster for Christy and the family. He was a talented young golfer, he was going to be a great golfer," he added.
Meanwhile, former European captain Tony Jacklin, pictured, recalled Christy's great sporting moment during the 1989 Ryder Cup as "the shot of his career".
"Christy's effort that day was epic. I walked down to the 18th with him and as he took that club out of the bag I said, 'one more good swing for Ireland'.
"It was the shot of his life," Jacklin added.
Tributes to the golfer were also paid by President Michael D Higginsand Taoiseach Enda Kenny who described him as a "Ryder Cup hero". And Minister for Sport Michael Ring said he was "one of the leading lights of golf".