Mickey O’Connor was a neighbour of mine for over 50 years. In that time I got to know him as a driving force in Bellurgan football club.
Mickey O’Connor was a neighbour of mine for over 50 years. In that time I got to know him as a driving force in Bellurgan football club; it was easy to understand the grief his death last week, at the age of 61, engendered among the peninsula club’s fraternity.
I kicked with the other foot, so to speak, and prior to our household’s youngest wearing the black-and-red colours I would only have made the very occasional visit to the local soccer grounds.
But now, with more than a passing interest, I became a regular at Flynn Park and other town venues where the U12s played in the summer months. This was Kevin Hanratty’s team; my contribution amounted to no more than offering encouragement from the sideline and gathering up the jerseys. (Sadly, Kevin is another gone to his reward at a much too early age.)
Mickey O’Connor was also on the line back then, representing the club management. He rarely missed a game, offering advice, but only when it was sought. Though as Terry Conlon’s warm and fitting tribute – printed elsewhere in this issue – tells us, this was only a small part of Mickey’s contribution to the club, and, indeed, to the game of soccer.
He was, as Terry says, ‘Mr Bellurgan’, the one who did most to bring the club to where it is today, one of the finest-equipped and most respected in the North-East.
Players, supporters and club members, past and present, paid a wonderful tribute to Mickey on his final journey from his home on Marsh Road, Bellurgan, to St. Mary’s, Ravensdale, on Friday last, lining the pavement outside Flynn Park, all of them wearing the black-and-red jersey.
Sympathy is extended to Rosaleen, Gerard, Seán and Danny, and the wider family circle.