There was widespread shock and sadness in Clonmel, and throughout Tipperary, when news of the death of Paddy O'Connell was announced at the beginning of the year.
Paddy lived in Bawnard East in Midleton, Cork for many years but was originally from Glenconnor, Clonmel and was best known in this area for his sporting prowess and especially his involvement with Clonmel Commercials and Tipperary football teams.
68 year-old Paddy, who died after a short illness, was son of Ellen and John O'Connell.
His promise as a football and hurler was noted at an early age and he made his debut for Tipperary's Minor hurlers in 1958. He missed out in 1959 but was back on the team that won the Munster Championship in 1960, beating Galway in the final, before losing the All-Ireland Final to Kilkenny.
An outstanding duel player, he also played Minor football for his county in the same years and captained the Commercials team that won South and county honours in 1960.
As a student in UCC he won three Sigerson Cups and two Fitzgibbon Cups and played on the UCC team that was beaten in two Cork County senior hurling finals. During his career he hurled with St. Mary's and Marlfield, winning a South Senior Hurling medal with Marlfield in 1970.
He also had a short spell in Carlow and played a leading role in that county's All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling success in the 1960s.
However he was best known as an exceptionally stylish midfielder on the Commercials teams and was the proud holder of five county senior medals, lining out alongside his brother Mick. The highlight of that period was the three in-a-row of South and County titles that Commercials won from 1965-'67 and Paddy was widely acknowledged as one of the main inspirations of that highly successful period for the club.
He was an ever-present on the Tipperary senior football team from 1965 until 1972 and played on the team that won Division 2 of the National Football League in 1972.
He also appeared for Munster's Railway Cup football team in 1968 and '69 and received a Cidona award for Gaelic football from the Tipperary United Sports Panel in 1965.
Paddy spent most of his working life with Avonmore and was based for most of his life in Midleton, where he also managed the hurling team for a time.
Although he left Clonmel in the 1960s he never lost touch with his roots and regularly returned for many Commercials functions and matches through the years.
His legacy to the GAA in his native town and county, and the fond memories that he left behind were encapsulated in the attendance at his funeral. Among the mourners were former county team mates John O'Donoghue, Theo English and Babs Keating. Noel Morris, chairman of the County Football Board was also present, as was a large contingent from the Commercials club.
The Requiem Mass was celebrated at the Church of the Most Holy Rosary in Midleton and he was buried in the adjoining cemetery.
Paddy is survived by his wife Yvonne, daughters Michelle, Deirdre, Karen and Susan, and son Ian, as well as his brother Mick, Glenconnor, to whom sincere sympathy is extended.
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