Bernard O'Connor (born March 20, 1979) is a Gaelic footballer.
O'Connor was born on March 20, 1979 in Cahersiveen, County Kerry, Ireland. He is the youngest of five children born to Bernard and Mary O'Connor. He grew up loving the game of Gaelic Football with his father as the driving force behind his football career.
O'Connor started playing for the Kerry Minor Football Team in 1996. As a forward, he helped Kerry win their 32nd Munster Minor title by defeating Cork 3-9 to 2-6 in the final, a feat his father achieved 47 years prior with the '49 Kerry minors. Kerry defeated Mayo by a point in the All-Ireland Semi-Final and advanced to face Laois in the final. Despite a great effort from the Kingdom, they could not overcome an early fluke goal and lost 2-11 to 1-11.
In 1997, Bernard would capture his second Munster Minor title, scoring a goal in the final en route to annihilating Limerick, 4-12 to 1-7. As the summer rolled on, Kerry drew Tyrone in the Semi-Final and would play two nailbiters before losing by 2 points in the replay. O'Connor continued to thrive as a footballer with his local club St. Mary's Cahirciveen and as a result gained an invitation to the Kerry U21 Panel.
O'Connor played with the Kerry U21s from 1998 to 2000, making 4 appearances in the championship. He would capture two Munster U21 titles and an U21 All Ireland medal alongside future Kerry greats Tomas O Se, Tom O'Sullivan, Mike Frank Russell, and current Kerry Senior manager, Eamonn Fitzmaurice.
In 1998, Bernard started the Munster U21 Semi-Final in a winning effort against Clare at right half forward. The team would go on to beat Tippearay in the Munster Final for Kerry's 66th U21 Munster crown. Kerry went on to beat Armagh in the All Ireland Semi-Final, and defeated Laois in the final 2-8 to 0-11, avenging the '96 Minor loss.
In 1999, O'Connor started the championship campaign for the Kingdom, starting in a victory over Waterford in the Munster Quarter Final. Kerry would beat Limerick in the semi final and Cork in the final to capture their 67th U21 Munster crown. Bernard played in the All-Ireland Semi- Final against Roscommon, helping Kerry to a 3-15 to 1-8 landslide win. However, Kerry were beaten by Westmeath in the final, 1-12 to 0-9.
In 2000, O'Connor made his final appearance for Kerry against Waterford in the Munster U21 Semi-Final replay, coming in at centre back for Eugene Courtney (Glenbeigh/Glencar). Playing alongside future Kerry Senior regular Marc O Se at wing back, Kerry were defeated 1-10 to 0-10.
Bernard grew up next to Con Keating Park and helped his local club to achieve great success alongside Kerry legend, Maurice Fitzgerald. He has 4 South Kerry Senior championships medals with his football club, St. Mary's Cahirciveen, winning in 1995, 2001, 2002, and 2003. He played a big role in St. Mary's winning the Kerry County Football League-Division 2 and the Kerry Intermediate Championship in 2001. They would go on to capture the Kerry County Football League-Division 1 in 2003.
Kerry Boston GAA
O'Connor moved to Boston, Massachusetts in the summer of 2003 to play with the Kerry Boston GAA. In his first summer, in a match against the Boston Cork Club, O'Connor scored 2-4 of the team's 2-6 to lead Kerry to victory. The Cork side had previously been undefeated. He served as captain for two years to follow, winning his first Boston All Star in 2004 but his team fell to the intermediate rank in 2005 after losing a hard fought game to the Connemara Gaels.
With a new division, O'Connor would win his second Boston All Star award despite handing over the role of captain to Brian Geraughty, a cornerback from Dublin. The Kerry Club were able to qualify for a semifinal in both Intermediate and Junior B. Both teams were defeated in the semifinals despite good efforts from both.
Brian Geraughty returned to Ireland and Mike Godley, a former Boston All Star was named to captain the Kerry team. However, with O'Connor playing at his best in years, along with the addition of Johnny Maroney, led the team to a Boston Intermediate Championship in 2007. The Kerry Club won both the Northeast Intermediate Championship and Northeast Junior B Championship that year, which saw Kerry's Junior squad go all the way to the North American final with the likes of Carol O'Connell, Sean Pete O'Sullivan, Ger Barry, Dan O'Connor, Timmy O'Neill, Mike Moriarty and Chris O'Connor, Bernard's brother-in-law, leading the way. The Intermediate side made it to the semi-final but were defeated in a tough competition against the Sons of Boru from San Francisco. Bernard tallied 0-3 in this match as well as winning great breaks from the middle of the field. The Kerry club made it through this season without a manager, just a team of selectors.
O'Connor along with the help of Ballylongford man Johnny Maroney led Kerry to an impressive start in the Senior Championship with wins over the Wolfetones, Cork, and Donegal and Bernard also played a massive role in the draw with the three time defending and eventual 2008 Northeast Champions, Aiden McAnespies, by scoring 0-9. He matched this feat by scoring 0-9 of Kerry's 11 points in their win over Cork. The "Boston Kingdom" would go on to capture the North American Intermediate Championship after losing the Boston Divisional crown.
O'Connor sat out the 2009 GAA season in Boston. He would have been an excellent veteran presence on a relatively young team. Kerry Boston lost two games in the dying minutes and these wins would have allowed them to compete for the Senior Crown. They competed for the Intermediate crown but were defeated by the Connemara Gaels in the semi-final by 3 goals.
O'Connor returned to the Kerry Club in 2010 in the form of a much needed goalkeeper. He was a big presence on the field for Kerry along with captain Robbie Croft. The team competed for the Boston Intermediate Championship but lost in the semi-final. Following the 2010 season, O'Connor retired from Gaelic football.
O'Connor was married on October 19, 2007 to Orla O'Connor and they have made a home together in Milton. Bernard and Orla returned to Ireland for vacation at the end of August 2008. Bernard's brother, Frank "The Tank" O'Connor was married on September 6 and Bernard was his best man. Bernard worked feverishly on his speech in an attempt to match some of the illustrious speeches in the history of his wife's family. As a whole, the speech went over well. In March 2011, Bernard and his wife bought their first home in Milton, Massachusetts.
O'Connor and his wife, Orla, have three daughters, Ellie Rita (b. 2009), Annie Bernadette (b. 2012), and Sadie Noelle (b. 2016).
O'Connor is a member of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local 33 and works as a carpenter for Karney Construction Design, Inc.