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'He wasn’t alone. He was with his brothers' - A tragic death, an FAI Cup final and a family that never forgot

Three days before Derry City played Shelbourne in the 1997 FAI Cup final, Conor O’Dowd, brother of Derry goalkeeper Tony, collapsed and died during a kick-around with his siblings. It was a traumatic time for a family steeped in Irish football but, 25 years on, they sat down this week for their first public chat about what happened

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Greg O’Dowd, his brother Tony and father Tony Snr hold a photograph of Conor who passed away 25 years ago

Greg O’Dowd, his brother Tony and father Tony Snr hold a photograph of Conor who passed away 25 years ago

Conor O'Dowd

Conor O'Dowd

Players from Shelbourne and Derry City hold a minute’s silence before the 1997 FAI Cup final at Dalymount Park

Players from Shelbourne and Derry City hold a minute’s silence before the 1997 FAI Cup final at Dalymount Park

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Greg O’Dowd, his brother Tony and father Tony Snr hold a photograph of Conor who passed away 25 years ago

It was supposed to be the start of the summer. When Tony O’Dowd pictures May 1, 1997 in his mind, he remembers the sense that the evenings were becoming alive and bright with possibility.

For the local football community, the FAI Cup final used to be the last game before clicking into warm-weather holiday mode. A different time, in a very different League of Ireland.


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