Tuesday 26 March 2019

Stars to come out to toast Cork career of Donncha O'Connor

John Tarrant

A galaxy of GAA stars are expected to turn up to pay tribute to Ballydesmond legend Donncha O'Connor at a get together in Ballydesmond Community Centre on Saturday, December 8 commencing at 7.30pm.

The former Cork star announced his retirement in the wake of Cork's 2018 championship exit after a Round 4 qualifier defeat to Tyrone. His departure from the inter county scene severs a key link with Cork's 2010 All-Ireland winning team.

An integral part of that triumph, O'Connor posted a 0-5 tally in the final over Down having registered 1-5 in the semi-final victory over Dublin. Injuries had curbed the Ballydesmond star but decided to commit for another campaign in 2018 .

The previous season illustrated his ability to make an impact, shooting 0-6 in the Munster final against Kerry and contributing the same tally in the All-Ireland qualifier loss to Mayo.

Better late than never summed up the career of the dedicated Ballydesmond club man after being a late comer to inter-county football. As a substitute on the Cork team that won the All-Ireland junior football title in 2005, he came off the bench in that final to score 0-2 and gained subsequent promotion onto the senior squad by manager Billy Morgan.

O'Connor made his inter-county debut for Cork in 2006 against Dublin and became a regular starter for Cork in the follow up seasons. Aside from the 2010 All-Ireland success, he won four Munster senior football medals and added four National league medals.

Widely admired by colleagues and opponents, O'Connor has been a terrific servant to Ballydesmond and Duhallow football, a guiding force to Duhallow's epic journey to contesting the 2018 County SFC Final.

Club Chairman Andy Moynihan hailed the contribution of Donncha to a club founded in 1964 that's gained significant success over the years by players drawn from both sides of the county bounds.

"At the club's founding, it was agreed that if a Ballydesmond player was asked to play intercounty, he could decide what county, he would like to represent with the full support of the club," he said.

"That element of Cork and Kerry identity has always been a source of pride in the club as county rivalries are forgotton when Ballydesmond teams take to the field. The red and white of Cork and Kerry's green and gold are replaced by the club's saffron and blue jersey for that hour when all players pull together for the common glory of Ballydesmond, that's the way Donncha operated over the years, always willing to play for the club," said Andy.

Club organisers promise a treat is in store on Saturday week, plenty of surprises to entertain patrons. 2010 manager Conor Counihan heads a line up that will also include team captain Graham Canty, Colm O'Neill, Derek Kavanagh, Paul Kerrigan, Daniel Goulding, Fintan Gould and a number of others.