Sunday 18 March 2018

O'Connor one of the strongest opponents I ever faced – Liston

Liam O'Connor
Liam O'Connor
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Tributes continued to flow in for former Offaly All-Ireland winner Liam O'Connor, who died on Monday after a lengthy illness, aged 58.

O'Connor was full-back on the Offaly team that beat Kerry in the landmark 1982 All-Ireland football final and his then manager Eugene McGee, who is also his brother-in-law, has paid tribute to the job he did in marking Eoin 'Bomber' Liston. McGee recalls that Liston, because of his strength and capacity to score goals, was virtually unmarkable at the time.

"Liam had the strength to compete with Liston, who really was some player at the time. But Liam was athletic and competitive, very lithe and he was able to compete with Liston as much as anyone could have hoped.

"You were never going to put Liston completely out of the game," said McGee.

McGee revealed that he told Liam's eldest son Mark in recent days that his father's memory would always be enshrined by the replays of the most famous goal of all time scored by Seamus Darby to win the '82 final at the death.

"He provided the pass for Seamus Darby's goal and I have no doubt that he meant it," he said.

McGee recalled O'Connor as a footballer who kept himself to himself and wasn't bothered by the limelight attached to bringing down a team on the verge of history.

"He wasn't flashy, he didn't see himself as a star. He just got on with a job," he said.

Liston himself credited O'Connor as being one of the strongest opponents he ever came across. They were direct opponents in the 1981 and 1982 All-Ireland finals.

"He was strong, mobile and always played it fair. There was a great honesty about him. Any ball you won off him you earned it," he said.

"I would say he had a physical presence to match anyone I played against," added Liston.

Darby, scorer of that famous goal in '82, himself paid a rich tribute to the man who supplied him with the pass.

He reflected: "Liam came thundering up the field and dropped it right in on top of me. It worked for me as well and that's the way it went. Liam just got on with his business – he wasn't a very flamboyant bloke.

"He was one of the guys that wouldn't be in the limelight, but he played in two All-Ireland finals against the Bomber (Eoin) Liston and did very well on him. That was an achievement in itself as Bomber was one of the great full-forwards."

Liam's removal to the Church of the Assumption, Aglish will take place this evening at 7.0, with his funeral mass tomorrow morning at 11.0, followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.

Irish Independent

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