Paying tribute to a role model and hero

At the golf classic prizegiving in the McSweeney Arms Hotel were, front from left, Paudie’s grandson Luciano O’Connor Mauro, his brother Seamie O’Connor and Joey Sheehan, captain of the winning team accepting first prize from Paudie’s daughter Morgan O’Connor Mauro with, back from left, John Keogh, Tony McSweeney, Richard Ferris, Pat O’Shea, Tim Regan, Paudie’s nephew Philip O’Connor, Paudie’s brother Mike O’Connor, Con Healy and Paudie’s son-in-law Marcello Mauro. Picture: Eamonn Keogh

By Eamonn Keogh
FORMER team-mates, friends, colleagues and supporters of the late great Paudie O’Connor – the basketball legend and former four-time Mayor of Killarney who passed away last year – turned out in great numbers for a golf classic in his memory to raise funds for local causes.

Close on 60 teams competed in the event on the Killeen course at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club and at a prizegiving function in the McSweeney Arms Hotel, Paudie’s brothers Seamie and Mike, and daughter, Morgan O’Connor Mauro, presented the prizes.
Proceeds from  the golf classic will go towards Scotts Lakers St Paul’s national league campaign and the Killarney Cardiac Response Unit.
The winning Tatler Jack team of Joey Sheehan, Richard Ferris, Con Healy and Pat O’Shea received a first prize of a round of golf at the famed Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale.

The late Paudie O’Connor

Joey Sheehan, captain of the winning team and himself a former national league basketballer, said he was humbled and delighted to win and he recalled his own fond memories of the late Paudie.

He recalled his first introduction to the sporting legend was in 1972 when he was a student in the Presentation Monastery. Paudie was already an established Irish international basketballer back then and coached the local young players in the Mon and St Brendan’s College.

Joey also recalled Paudie’s prominent role in introducing the American players to the Irish league in 1979. As his own basketball career gradually progressed, he said it was an honour to play alongside the likes of Paudie and his brother Mike and Tim Regan.
“We played, trained and travelled together all over Ireland and the UK. It was an education for many of us as Paudie and the senior players were role models and our heroes,” he said.
Joey recalled four other men who were also associated with the glory days of Killarney basketball and who have since passed away. Team sponsor Maurice O’Donoghue of the Gleneagle Hotel and Sean Coleman both died in 2001 while Donal O’Doherty and Denis Coffey passed away in 2011.
Paudie O’Connor died on May 1 last year at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 66. He is still ranked as the greatest Irish basketball player of all time and represented Ireland over 100 times.

A former Irish captain, he was the first and only Irish player ever to be selected on a European All-Star first five in 1977.

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