Tributes paid to star of St Mel’s College, Longford 1994 Leinster Final victory Conor Connelly following his sudden death

Alan Walsh

Reporter:

Alan Walsh

Email:

alan.walsh@longfordleader.ie

Many tributes have been paid to former Roscommon footballer, Conor Connelly, who played a starring role in St Mel’s College 1994 Leinster Colleges’ senior football championship success, following his sudden death earlier today. 

The Creggs native (44) and current assistant secretary of Ballycumber GAA Club in Co Offaly passed away this morning while jogging near his home in Moorock, Ballycumber.

A Connacht championship medal winner, Conor lined out at right half-forward against Mayo in the 2001 Connacht final at Dr Hyde Park as the Rossies ended a 10-year wait for the JJ Nestor Cup.

Conor won a Leinster SFC colleges title with St Mel’s College in 1994, and he went on to become a solicitor and also represented St Jude’s of Dublin and Ballycumber at club level.

Remembering both Conor Connelly and Shane McGettigan, current Longford senior football manager Padraic Davis, who was also part of the St Mel’s 1994 Leinster Final winning side, paid tribute to the two men;

“In 1994 (Conor) & ‘95 (Shane) the most prestigious award in St Mel’s college was awarded to these two gems, for excellence in academics, sport and overall demeanor. Hard to believe both former inter county stars are no longer with us. Condolences to the Connelly family.”

St Mel’s College posted on Facebook: “Sad news today of the passing of our past pupil Conor Connelly. Conor formed a midfield partnership with Martin Flanagan in 1994 and it was one of the best in the history of St Mel’s football. He was a star in every way and we extend our deepest sympathy to his family.”

St Mel’s hammered St Peter’s Wexford 3-11 to 1-5 in the 1994 Leinster Colleges senior title decider at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise. Conor Connelly scored a point that day and his midfield partner and team captain, Westmeath’s Martin Flanagan contributed 0-4. Niall Sheridan (Abbeylara) lined out at full back, with John Smith (Mostrim) and Aidan England (Longford Slashers) netting the goals for a St Mel’s side that was coached by current principal Declan Rowley. 

St Mel’s lost out (1-6 to 3-9) against a star studded St Jarlath’s Tuam, who included Padraic Joyce, Michael Donnellan, brothers Tomas and Declan Meehan, and John Divilly,  in the All-Ireland semi-final. 

Roscommon GAA led the tributes to the late Conor Connelly and they posted the following statement on their website:

"County chairman Seamus Sweeney extended his own sympathy and that of Roscommon GAA to the Connelly family on the very sad news."

“I extend my sympathy and the sympathy of Roscommon GAA to his wife Claire, their three young children and to Conor’s parents Jimmy and Nora.

“I always admired Conor as a footballer, he was a fine tenacious player who gave his all when wearing the primrose and blue. Like Rossies everywhere I really am saddened by the news."

County Assistant Secretary and Creggs Club mate Gerry Keegan extended his sympathies to the family and said: “It's heartbreaking news, Conor was such a popular figure in Creggs GAA club and was always there to lend a hand when needed even after his playing days came to an end."

"In our successful junior championship winning year in 2016, Conor brought us up to his current Club in Ballycumber Co Offaly for a midweek training session the Wednesday night before the replay. His speech to us that night helped us clinch our first county championship in 33 years.

"Conor was a fantastic footballer and his work rate for the county jersey was unquestionable, he was also a great person off the field and was always on hand to give you good advice when you'd need it.

"The thoughts and prayers of everyone here in Creggs GAA club go out to his father and mother Jimmy and Nora, his wife Claire and three children Cara 11, Rossa 9 today, and Eoghan 6, his brothers Robert, James and Daragh and his sister Sharon.

"Conor will be sadly missed and will never be Forgotten in our club.

"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam."

Ballycumber GAA also paid tribute to the late Conor Connelly.

“It is with deep regret that we announce the sudden death of our player and assistant secretary, Conor Connelly. Conor passed away this morning while jogging near his home in Moorock, Ballycumber, Co Offaly.

“Conor was a former Roscommon and Connaught footballer and he played Club football in Dublin. He transferred to Ballycumber on his marriage to Claire Quinn and had become a very valuable addition to our Club and the Community. 

“In addition to his involvement with Ballycumber GAA Club, Conor was also a Director of Ballycumber Leamonaghan Community Developments CLG and a member of the Board of Management of Boher National School.

“A Solicitor by profession he gave invaluable assistance and advice on many topics and his engaging personality had a positive effect on all who came in contact with him.

“Conor is survived by his wife Claire, daughter Caragh and sons Rossa and Eoin, his parents, his brothers and sister, his extended family in Roscommon and the extended Quinn family in Ballycumber.

“Ballycumber GAA Club wish to offer our sincere sympathy to Conor’s family, friends and work colleagues. May Conor rest in peace."