Kerry legend Jack O'Connor to receive Special Merit Award
KERRY legend Jack O’Connor will be the first recipient of the Special Merit Award as part of the inaugural Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards which take place tomorrow in Croke Park.
O’Connor has been instrumental in bringing through the next wave of football talent in the Kingdom. The Dromid Pearses man won back to back All-Ireland Minor Championships with Kerry in 2014 and 2015 and subsequently moved with the players up to U-21 level to help continue their development.
Along with Minor titles, O’Connor won three senior All-Ireland Championship titles at the helm with Kerry and was also a significant figure in the development of current Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice.
O’Connor said: “It’s a great honour for me to win the first Special Merit award as part of the inaugural Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards. While I’ve had some amazing moments in the GAA across the years, being able to work with Minor players and track their development through the ranks is incredibly rewarding.
"To be able to play a major part in these minor players’ development and see them grow as players and people is what being involved in sport is all about.”
Aogán Ó Fearghail, President, GAA, said: “Jack O’Connor is an outstanding recipient for the first Electric Ireland Minor Star Special Merit Award. What Jack has done for young footballers in Kerry is outstanding and his passion and commitment to the development of talent in the county is an example to every coach across the country in any sport.
"Jack has coached his teams to many trophies but silverware is only a minor part of player development and Jack’s commitment in following his players from Minor to Under-21 just exemplifies his belief in the best path to help these players grow. Congratulations to Jack and we hope he continues to help these young players develop for many years to come.”
Jim Dollard, Executive Director, Electric Ireland, said: “To be able to award Jack O’Connor as the first recipient of the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Special Merit Award is a huge honour.
"Jack is an iconic figure in GAA and a true legend of Kerry. His attitude to the development of young people is not just an example in sport but also in business. His success both at Minor and Senior level speaks for itself and we could not have chosen a better winner of the first Special Merit award.”
The Kerry Under-21 manager will be celebrated at the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards on Saturday at Croke Park along with the Football and Hurling Teams of the Year and the Footballer and Hurling Player of the Year.
The four-man awards selection panel which was unveiled back in March, consisted of legendary former Cork hurler and current Clare hurling selector, Dónal Óg Cusack; former Armagh All Star footballer, Oisín McConville; former Galway hurler and All Ireland Club hurling championship winning manager, Mattie Kenny and Meath Senior football manager Andy McEntee.
The inaugural awards emphasise the ongoing concept that there is ‘nothing minor about playing Minor’ and recognises the best individual performers from the entire season, including provincial and All Ireland stages, with the best player in each position selected on the 2017 Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Top 15.
Having been sponsor of the GAA All-Ireland Minor Championships since 2012, Electric Ireland has committed to continuing the partnership until 2021.