Mick O'Connell

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Mick O'Connell
Personal information
Irish name Mícheál Ó Conaill
Sport Gaelic football
Position Midfield
Born (1937-01-04) 4 January 1937 (age 80)
Valentia Island, County Kerry
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Nickname Micko
Occupation Farmer and fisherman
Club(s)
Years Club
Young Islanders
Waterville
South Kerry
Club titles
Kerry titles 3
Inter-county(ies)
Years County Apps (scores)
1956-1974 Kerry 56 (1-121)
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 12
All-Irelands 4
NFL 4
All Stars 1

Michael "Mick" O'Connell (born 4 January 1937) is an Irish retired Gaelic footballer. His league and championship career with the Kerry senior team spanned nineteen seasons from 1956 to 1974. O'Connell is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.[1][2]

Born on Valentia Island, County Kerry, O'Connell was raised in a family that had no real link to Gaelic football. In spite of this he excelled at the game in his youth and also at Cahersiveen CBS. By his late teens O'Connell had joined the Young Islanders, and won seven South Kerry divisional championship medals in a club career that spanned four decades and included a spell playing with Waterville. He also lined out with South Kerry, winning three county senior championship medals between 1955 and 1958.

O'Connell made his debut on the inter-county scene at the age of eighteen when he was selected for the Kerry minor team. He enjoyed one championship season with the minors, however, he was a Munster runner-up on that occasion. O'Connell subsequently joined the Kerry senior team, making his debut during the 1956 championship. Over the course of the next nineteen seasons, he won eight All-Ireland medals, beginning with lone triumphs in 1959 and 1962, and culminating in back-to-back championships in 1969 and 1970. O'Connell also won twelve Munster medals, six National Football League medals and was named Footballer of the Year in 1962. He played his last game for Kerry in July 1974.

Early life[edit]

Mick O'Connell was born on Valentia Island, County Kerry in 1937. His father was a fisherman who also worked on the family’s small farm on the island. From an early age O’Connell showed his footballing talent and "inimitable signs of excellence".[1]

Playing career[edit]

Club[edit]

O’Connell played his club football with the local Young Islanders club. He won three Kerry County Championship medals with the South Kerry divisional side. O’Connell also played club football with Waterville.

Inter-county[edit]

O'Connell’s career with Kerry began in 1955 when he lined out in the Munster Minor Championship. Kerry lost the replayed Munster final to Tipperary, however, he quickly joined the Kerry senior football team, making his debut in 1956. Two years later in 1958 O’Connell won the first of eight Munster titles in-a-row, however, Kerry suffered a shock defeat by Derry in the All-Ireland semi-final. In 1959 O’Connell was captain when Kerry won the National Football League. He later guided his native-county to another Munster title, however, he had to retire injured in Kerry’s All-Ireland victory over Galway.

Following a second National League victory in 1961 O’Connell captured his second All-Ireland medal in 1962 when Kerry defeated Roscommon in the final. A third National League victory quickly followed at the start of 1963. After two All-Ireland defeats by Galway in 1964 and 1965 Kerry surrendered their provincial crown to Cork in 1966 and 1967. O’Connell won a ninth Munster title in 1968, however, Kerry lost out to Down in the All-Ireland final. This defeat was followed by a great year of success in 1969 as O’Connell added a fourth National League medal to his collection before winning a tenth Munster title. He later won a third All-Ireland medal following a victory over Offaly.

In 1970 O’Connell entered the third decade of his inter-county football career, winning an eleventh Munster title in the process. A fourth All-Ireland medal quickly followed after a victory over Meath in the first 80-minute All-Ireland final. O’Connell claimed two more National league medals in 1971 and 1972, before winning his twelfth and final provincial medal in 1972. That year Offaly later defeated Kerry in O’Connell’s last All-Ireland final appearance. In spite of this loss he was still presented with an All-Star award. O’Connell retired from inter-county football in 1973.

Retirement[edit]

In retirement from playing O’Connell published his autobiography, ‘A Kerry Footballer’, in 1974. Ten years later in 1984, the GAA's centenary year, his reputation as one of the all-time greats was recognised when he was named in the midfield position on the GAA's Football Team of the Century. In 2000 O’Connell was also named on the associations ‘Football Team of the Millennium.’

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mick Murphy
Kerry Senior Football Captain
1959
Succeeded by
Paudie Sheehy
Achievements
Preceded by
Kevin Heffernan
(Dublin)
All-Ireland Senior Football
winning captain

1959
Succeeded by
Kevin Mussen
(Down)