Cork GAA and the wider community has been saddened by the death of one of its former footballers, Kieran O'Connor.
Kieran won an All-Ireland medal with the county in 2010 as a squad member when they beat Down, having played in the 2007 and 2009 All-Ireland finals against Kerry, both of which they lost. Invariably, he was the defender tasked with marking Colm Cooper in some of those games.
A member of the same Aghada club as Cork's 2010 All-Ireland winning manager Conor Counihan, he played for his county for seven years, winning Munster medals in 2006 and 2009.
He also featured in All-Ireland semi-finals against Kerry in 2005, 2006 and 2009.
Kieran had been diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, almost three years ago.
He underwent surgery and chemotherapy in 2018 and looked like he was getting on top of it but what had initially felt like a sore ankle in 2017, worsened and in early 2019 he had a lower leg amputated.
A huge fundraising drive to support Kieran and his family wife Sinead and three children was launched in March of last year when it emerged that he would need further treatment, supported by his club and his former Cork team-mates.
His former captain Graham Canty described him at the time as someone he would pick "to go to war with."
The Aghada GAA club and the 'Friends of Kieran,' who oversaw that fundraising drive, paid tribute to him this evening.
"The courage, determination, spirit, and bravery of Kieran as a player was seen at its finest over the last three years as he battled his illness with dignity and respect. Today is one of the saddest occasions our club has ever known. There are no words that will capture just what Kieran O’Connor meant to Aghada GAA. We know that Aghada was embedded in Kieran's heart and his club meant so so much to him also. We are truly proud of him and his achievements in the Aghada and Cork jerseys. We are honoured to be able to call him an Aghada man.
"To his incredible family we send our heartfelt condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sinead, Isabelle, Ava and James. And also with Pa and Mary, Pa jnr, Johno, Ashling, and Loretta, Regina and Ronan. Our condolences go out also to Kieran's parents-in-law Joe and Margaret, and all of Kieran’s extended family and friends.
Cork chairperson Tracey Kennedy also paid tribute to Kieran, stating he was "a tower of strength on the field of play, and showed that same strength of character and courage in dealing with his illness over the past few years.
"He will be an unimaginable loss to his family, and on behalf of all in Cork GAA, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Kieran’s wife Sinéad, their three children, Isabelle, Ava and James, and also to his parents Pat and Mary, sister Aisling and brothers Patrick and John Paul. Our condolences also to his club, Aghada, his wonderful friends who did so much to support the family throughout Kieran’s illness, and all who mourn his loss."