A very special day when the champs met a champ

CAPTAIN Dan O’Donoghue singled him out for special mention when he accepted the Bishop Moynihan Cup in Austin Stack Park but that was only the start of it for passionate GAA supporter and East Kerry fan, Ian O’Connell, who was thrilled when the newly crowned Kerry county champions paid him a surprise visit.

Ian with East Kerry stars David and Paudie Clifford (Fossa), David Spillane, Shane Cronin, Michael Foley and Michael McCarthy (Spa) and Niall Donohue (Firies)

Spa clubman Ian was particularly delighted to see some of his club colleagues play a huge part in the double scores victory over outgoing champions Dr Crokes but they were not the only stars of the squad to pop in to spend some time with him at his home in Whitebridge Manor.

Ian (18) has recovered really well from a recent bout of illness and he was more than happy to join in the celebrations with the all-conquering divisional team.

The champs that called around to spend some time with the inspirational teenager included Fossa’s Clifford brothers, Paudie and David, defender Niall Donohue from Firies and the Spa contingent of Shane Cronin, David Spillane, Michael Foley and Michael McCarthy.

GAA superstar David Clifford gifts Ian an East Kerry jersey

They were accompanied by East Kerry Board Chairman Johnny Brosnan and senior team selector Sean Cronin – another Spa clubman – and Ian was presented with a souvenir East Kerry jersey by double All-Star winner David Clifford.

Ian is student in St Brendan’s College which happens to be the alma mater of most of the victorious East Kerry squad, many of whom won All-Ireland Colleges’ medals with The Sem.

The Killarney teenager sprang to national attention when he appeared on the Late Late Show following a devastating cycling accident in 2017 which left him incapacitated from the neck down.

But the gritty teenager – who loves GAA, soccer and MMA – told host Ryan Tubridy that if he couldn’t stand up he was determined to stand out.

And he has certainly done just that with his remarkable attitude to life which makes him an East Kerry champion in his own right.

Pictures: Anne Holland. Click on individual images for details

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