Wednesday 18 September 2019

Tributes paid to young Irish dad who tragically died after attending an Australian Rules football match

Optus Stadium in Perth, where Mr O'Connor watched his beloved Fremantle Dockers Football Club play with a friend, shortly before his tragic death.
Photo: Tourism Ireland
Optus Stadium in Perth, where Mr O'Connor watched his beloved Fremantle Dockers Football Club play with a friend, shortly before his tragic death. Photo: Tourism Ireland

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Tributes have been paid to a young Irish dad, who tragically died in an accident after attending an Australian rules football match on Saturday.

Owen (Emmett) O'Connor from Cloneygowan, Co Offaly, died on Saturday, July 20, after watching his beloved Fremantle Dockers Football Club play Sydney at Optus Stadium in Perth.

The 38-year-old tragically died while waiting to return home from the game.

Tributes have poured in for Mr O'Connor, who is described as being a very popular character in Cloneygowan. Local Councillor, Eddie Fitzpatrick, said that the community and especially Mr O'Connor's family are devastated.

"I was down with them on Monday evening. Everyone is devastated. They’re getting it very hard to comprehend what happened and the fact that it’s so far away," he said.

"It’s a difficult time for Owen and his wife, Emmett’s mother, Julia and sisters Michelle and Siobhán. Emmett was a nice happy-go-lucky sort of guy. He was always in good form and enjoyed  a bit of craic around the village with all the lads.

"He was very much involved with GAA and soccer and he was a great sportsman and a great bit of craic. All his friends around that age, people that knew him and would have gone to school with him are devastated about the situation. The fact that it’s so far away and they can’t pay their respects to his wife and his daughter out there."

Mr O'Connor's funeral will take place in Australia, however a remembrance mass will be held in St Mary's Church, Raheen, on Monday July 29 at 7.30pm.

Because of a recent hip operation, Mr O'Connor's father Owen will not be able to attend his funeral, however largely thanks to a local committee which was set up for this reason, his two sisters will travel there.

A GoFundMe page was also set up to support Mr O'Connor's young family. A friend of the family, Paula Quirke paid tribute to him on the page's blog.

"This past Sunday morning (Australian time), we lost one of the kindest, caring and adoring husbands and father in a tragic accident," she wrote.

"Emmet went out to watch Freo Dockers who were playing at Optus Stadium, a team who he madly supported and adored and unfortunately he never came home. 

"Emmet was an amazing father, husband, son, brother, friend and colleague. His wife Tina and beautiful daughter Niamh need all of our support during this heartbreaking time."

Donna Gill, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs, verified Mr O'Connor's tragic death.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware of the case and is providing Consular Assistance”.

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