Most of his greatest hurling days were on Sundays, so there was a poignant sadness to the passing of 1948 All-Ireland hurling winner Johnny O’Connor in his North Cork home on Sunday last.
The Abbeyside native, aged 82, passed away at his home in Ballysheehan after a short illness, thus reducing the surviving link to the Deise’s maiden All-Ireland winning campaign to just one: 92-year-old Andy Fleming.
“Without question, he was one of the greatest hurlers of his generation,” said County Board Chairman Tom Cunningham.
“And while the word legend is sometimes used rather loosely, in the case of Johnny O’Connor, it sits comfortably on his shoulders.”
Johnny O’Connor first wore the Waterford senior jersey when facing Kilkenny at Walsh Park in a National Hurling League fixture in 1946, aged just 18 when still studying at Dungarvan CBS.
Come 1947, O’Connor was in Championship action, making his provincial bow against Cork. A year later, at the heart of Waterford’s midfield, Johnny O’Connor, the team’s youngest player, tasted All-Ireland glory following the 6-7 to 4-2 win over Dublin.
And the good news for the O’Connors didn’t end there, with younger brother Paddy taking minor honours with the Deise that same afternoon, Waterford’s only All-Ireland hurling double.
Johnny’s first county title was secured in 1950 when he lifted junior honours with Abbeyside alongside Paddy and Michael (both also deceased).
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