Rory O’Connor was recently honoured at a Cork A.U.L. awards night, here’s what they said.
In soccer he was lucky and unlucky. Lucky to have been a priviliged member of the best League of Ireland team in living memory – Cork Utd’s all conquering squad of the forties. He was unlucky to have been confined to the reserves for lengthy periods because of the brilliance of players who wore the famous green and white jersey. He sought to wear the number two jersey but so also did the country’s best ever right-full, Irish international Billy Hayes.
Rory O’ Connor was Cork’s best known utility player and like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Man Utd today he, too, was happy to be involved with a champion squad. 1945-46 was Rory’s big year with Cork as he became a regular in the side and his solid consistent displays in defence contributed enormously to Cork Utd’s fifth Championship success.
Afterwards Rory engraved his name on the full back’s jersey and when Cork Utd went out of football in 1948 he filled the same position with Cork Ath. He was chosen as captain of the possibles side in an Olympic International Trial match in 1948 and though he gave the selectors headaches by scoring a splendid goal for the losers he didn’t make it on to the actual team.
Way back in 1939 he lifted Nationals Utd into the Munster Minor Cup final in which they were defeated by a “Big Seanie Mac” inspired Clinton. Rory managed to defy the infamous GAA ban and was Cork’s goalkeeper in the Munster Minor Football Championship. Indeed, the multi talented O’Connor showed his versatility by excelling at sprinting and the long jump during his hectic schooldays. Other local clubs to benefit from Rory’s dependable play were Parade Utd, Albert Rovers, Local Authorities and Freebooters.
Rory who was born in 1922 began refereeing in the 1950-51 season and a few years later he was elevated to the League of Ireland panel. One of the highlights of his career was his refereeing of the memorable Munster vs West Germany Youths match at a packed Mardyke in 1956.
He also had the honour in 1961 of refereeing the first AOH Cup Final to be played at Flower Lodge.
It is estimated that in a lengthy career Rory has officiated at approximately 8,000 matches and the number of times that he actually sent off players could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
It was with great sadness that we learned of Rory’s passing recently at the grand age of 86.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.