The late Sean O'Connor

May 20th, 2010
by Weeshie Fogarty

Sad to report that the death occurred last Tuesday week September 8 at his home in Dublin of Sean O'Connor a renowned Kerry Footballer of the forties and fifties.

Sean was born in the townland of Gortroe Knocknagoshel. He played his football with his local club and in 1950 played a huge part in Castleisland's great county championship victory over Killarney.

He lined at wing forward that day, his best position and some of his team mates included, Paddy Batt and Tom Shannahan (captain), Eddie Walsh, John Joe Sheehan, Tadge Prendiville and Martin McCarthy.

Luke Keane that great Knocknagoshel stalwart described Sean as "a beautiful skillful forward who could kick points from any distance or angle" and he added "from a young age it was evident that he would wear the Kerry jersey some day."

And this he did. In 1947 he helped the Kerry minors defeat Cork in the Athletic Grounds in the Munster final, 0-7 to 1-3. Mayo proved too good in the semi final winning 0-7 to 1-1. Team mates to Sean on that side included John Dowling, John C Cooper, Sean Lovett and Donie Murphy. He was playing great football in the early fifties and the call up for the Kerry seniors came in 1950 when he played a number of National League games. He was an automatic choice for the championship and on July 1, 1951 Sean O'Connor made his championship debut away to Waterford. He scored two cracking goals that day as Kerry won 5-6 to 1-1. His Munster championship medal came two weeks later in Killarney as Kerry had a five point win over the old enemy.

Mayo were the opponents in the All-Ireland semi final which finished in a draw, Sean lined out at left wing forward and it was the man on the other wing Pat Godley who scored the goal that helped Kerry to a draw.

Now a regular on the side injury unfortunately prevented him from starting in the re-play which Mayo won 2-5 to 1-5. Sean came on the second half replacing John Dowling who himself had earlier replaced Dermot Hanifin.

The Knocknagoshel man finished the year as Kerry's second top scorer with 2-1 to his name. Tom Ashe finished ahead with 107. That defeated side also included Liam Fitzgerald, Paddy Bawn, Jackie Lyne, Sean Murphy and Eddie Dowling, Gerald O'Sullivan, Mixi Plamer and Dermot Hanifin.

For seasons unknown it was Sean's last championship game for Kerry; however he did return for the juniors in 1953. They were defeated by Cork in the Munster semi-final 3-6 to 2-4 with Sean again finding the net. Also on that side were Bobby Miller, Tom Costello, Tim Healy, Johnny Foley and Joe Kerins.

A Garda by profession he was stationed in Swords in Dublin and helped Fingallians in the Dublin championship. Golf was a great passion of his and he served as Captain and President of the Dublin County Golf Club. Right up to the weeks preceding his death he continued to take a very active interest in all sports and his love for his home county which he represented with such great style, passion and dignity never faltered.

It is appropriate and right that with the week that's in it with Kerry facing the mighty challenge of Cork in the All Ireland final we pause for moment at the National Anthem is played and remember all those great men who forged our tradition down through the decades but have now answered that most final whistle of all.

Sean O'Connor may not have had a long fruitful career in his beloved green and gold like others, nevertheless he achieved his boyhood ambition as he graced Croke Park on those September days back in the dim and distance past of 1951.

Sean was predeceased by his wife Maureen and his daughter Aine, son Cormac and extended family was extend out deepest sympathy. May the sod rest gently on this proud son of Knocknagoshel.

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