Tributes paid to Oughterard GAA great Kieran O’Sullivan

Galway Bay FM Radio & Oughterard GAA Facebook page


Tributes are being paid to Kieran O’Sullivan from Oughterard, a member of the Galway 1976 All-Ireland Minor Football Championship winning team and father of Oughterard 2020 All Ireland Intermediate club title winning captain Eddie who has died after a long and brave battle with illness. Kieran scored 1-2 from right corner forward on the Galway team that beat Cork 1-10 to 0-6 in the 1976 All Ireland minor final.
The Oughterard club paid this tribute on their Facebook page:

Last night, after a long and brave battle, Kieran O’Sullivan was lost to his Family & to Oughterard, nothing we can say, do or write can dull the pain of losing a loved one, may he Rest in Peace.
We extend our deepest & heartfelt sympathies to Anne, Eddie, Ciara & the entire O’Sullivan Family at this time, his passing will be felt throughout the Parish and wider areas, especially by those who knew him well, not least by those within Oughterard GAA.
Kieran will always be remembered as a valued member of our Club & will be revered for his passion and love of Gaelic Football, not to mention his on pitch contributions. Some of us are old enough to have played alongside him during his playing career, a career that saw him proudly represent Oughterard and Galway with some notable successes along the way.

Kieran had a style of play & a turn of foot that struck fear into every opponent he faced, believe me when I say, nobody wanted to mark him in training let alone in a match.
He will be remembered as a straight talking, no nonsense guy, someone who was never afraid to voice his opinion and equally listen to & respect the opinions of others but he could never be accused of suffering fools gladly, the Monday night post Lotto discussions with this Chairperson will never be the same, trust me, at times it was not for the faint hearted but we always parted on good terms.
Mind you, in the last 12 months it was a bed of roses, what with winning County, Connacht and All Ireland Titles, it’s fair to say that the mission was accomplished and with some style. I’ve no doubt that Kieran took immense satisfaction in seeing our small Club rise to that level but it’s in returning to play Senior Club Football in Galway his dreams were realised, the rest was a bonus.
As a goal poacher par excellence, Kieran would have gotten huge joy in seeing our team ply their trade and come up with some brilliant goals, rest easy old friend, your work is done, the baton is in safe hands.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Eddie O’Sullivan and his dad Kieran after Oughterard’s county final success over Micheal Breathnach in 2019

Kieran was long remembered for his brilliant performance in Croke Park for the Galway minors in 1976. Here is the Connacht Tribune report of that year’s All Ireland Minor Final:

GALWAY MINOR FOOTBALLERS brought to a glorious end a chequered championship year for the county by initially containing and finally cracking a gritty Cork challenge to take the Markham Cup for the fourth time and cover themselves in All Ireland glory. With a splendid team performance of totally committed football Galway broke the hearts of their gallant opponents by their splendid defensive work at crucial periods and by a deadly ability to make the most of their chances up front.

And while victory in itself was splendidly satisfying, football followers from all over must have marvelled at the manner of its achievement. The spirit of the side was clearly seen in a hectic third quarter as magnificent defensive work, desperate at times, kept the rampaging Cork forwards at bay and denied them even a single score.

Happily Galway’s magnificent performance at the back was characterised by an insistence on playing the ball at all times and disdaining the unfortunately accepted tactics of fouling their opposites. It must also be recorded that Cork too played their part in making this an enjoyable and sporting contest. A large slice of luck is so often an essential ingredient for ultimate triumph and there is no denying that during that hectic third quarter Galway had, perhaps, a little more than their fair share of it. For ten agonising minutes Cork did everything but put the ball in the back of the net. That they were not allowed to do so is to the eternal credit of the whole Galway defence, none more so than the full back trio and goalkeeper, Padraic Coyne. In one astonishing series of events during a fifteen second period Cork attacked, gained the ball only yards out from goal but a combination of diving saves and the woodwork on two occasions kept them at bay. The determination and courage of the Galway team was exemplified during this period by goalkeeper Coyne who twice cleared under heavy pressure and then managed to get his face in the way of a full blooded drive from almost point blank range.

And while Cork were frustrated in attack they were also made to suffer in defence where the Galway attack tormented them once Kieran O’Sullivan had given them the necessary injection with a point after sixteen minutes. Thriving on the possession from midfielders Leo Higgins and team captain Gerry Burke the Galway forwards handed Cork a harsh lesson in the art of taking chances. It must have frustrated the very life out of the Munster champions to have had so many scoring opportunities in the opening ten minutes of the second half only to finish up with absolutely nothing to their credit during this period. By way of contrast Galway got one scoring opportunity immediately after this bout of severe pressure and with the minimum of fuss Kieran O’Sullivan knocked the ball over the bar. To their credit Cork kept plugging away but it was plain to see that the heart had gone out of their game. Even the great efforts of their outstanding player, Michael Mullins all went for nought as Galway cruised comfortably through the final quarter of the game for a memorable triumph.

The groundwork for victory was laid as far back as last February when team coach Johnny Geraghty began his preparations. Geraghty shaped his side through a victorious Connacht Minor League campaign and built up a marvellous relationship with his squad. His efforts bore their richest fruit on Sunday and his delight at the end of Sunday’s game was understandably uninhibited. He freely admitted that coaching the team to victory meant as much to him as winning his first senior All Ireland medal in 1964. He said: “The lads were magnificent and after a slow start they settled down really well. Cork hit us hard in the first fifteen minutes but once we got going I was not too worried. “Kieran O’Sullivan’s goal came at a very opportune time for us and after half time I knew we wouldn’t be beaten.” While not wishing to single out any one player from the others he felt that the full back line had made a magnificent contribution to victory, particularly by their brilliant defensive work in the third quarter of the game. “The full back line were magnificent and withstood the best that Cork could throw at them. Essentially it was a team victory in which everyone played an important part. “From a personal point of view victory now feels as good as it did when I won my first All Ireland medal. I was a little more nervous this time as I was detached from the action, but the feeling at the end was just as good,” he added.

Certainly he has every reason to be proud of the way his squad performed, particularly under pressure and for such a young team – three of them are only sixteen years of age – they showed great maturity at crucial periods. Even though that memorable third quarter was perhaps the most crucial period of the game for Galway, many Galway hearts skipped a beat or two during the first fifteen minutes as the Connacht champions struggled to find their feet. The danger signs went up as soon as the fourth minute when Timmy O’Leary burst through the Galway defence but blazed the ball over the bar with only the goalkeeper to beat. Cork surged forward full of confidence and while they led 0-3 to no score after fifteen minutes their tally could easily have been twice as great but for the wild shooting of the Cork forwards. Once O’Sullivan pointed for Galway a minute later the westerners settled down and were on level terms after twenty five minutes. At this stage the game was delicately balanced and Galway, perhaps, realising the importance of a strong finish to the first half, took over control at centre field and moved menacingly forward. O’Sullivan, Galway’s most impressive attacker, swung the game decisively in Galway’s favour in the thirtieth minute. He latched on to a perfect pass from Frank Rooney to crash the ball to the net despite a great effort by Sean Martin in the Cork goal.

Such a vital score at the most important psychological moment of the game really rocked Cork and they fell a further two points behind in as many minutes at the start of the second period. They pulled themselves together to play their best football during the following ten minutes but could find no way through the Galway defence. Then, to add insult to injury the Connacht title holders raised the siege, and picked off a couple of points in effortless fashion and that, effectively, was that. The Galway defence, which up to Sunday’s game had been regarded by many as the weak sector of the team, really proved their worth throughout the sixty minutes with what was undoubtedly their best performance of the championship. The full back line of Mattie Coleman, Ollie Burke and Kieran Faherty never played better. They allowed the opposing trio — held in high regard by Cork officials – little scope to get within scoring range and effectively stymied the best they could throw at them during a nerve racking third quarter. Behind them Padraic Coyne more than atoned for a shaky semi final display with a rock solid performance between the posts. On the couple of occasions that danger threatened his goal he proved equal to the task and his lengthy and accurate kick outs were a great boost. Galway’s half back trio of Joe Kelly, Robert Bermingham and Gerry Forde made an invaluable contribution to overall success by their willingness to attack. They also succeeded in clearing up a great deal of loose ball around the centre of the field and added handsomely to the work of midfielders Leo Higgins and Gerry Burke. Burke and Higgins dominated midfield after a slow start and got through an enormous amount of work in their efforts to supply their front runners with quality possession. Burke, in particular, made things most uncomfortable for a succession of Cork combinations in the centre. O’Sullivan was the most impressive attacker on the field. A member of a great Oughterard footballing family, his foraging for the ball took him to areas far removed from his rigid corner position during the sixty minutes and his roving completely upset the Cork defence. Barry Brennan never succeeded in settling down at right half forward and his departure after eighteen minutes was hardly unexpected. Kevin Donnellan performed competently when he arrived on the scene and kicked one splendid point during the second half. Stephen Ruane, as ever, had an incredible appetite for work and at times was to be found deep in defence, helping out. On the left wing Padraic Conroy gave Cork star Donal Buckley a testing time and his clever running opened up huge avenues for his colleagues. Gay McManus at full forward had a quiet hour but made a valuable contribution by drawing Cork full back Jim Murphy out of position time and again, in the left corner Frank Rooney was a hive of activity and linked well in many scoring movements particularly that which led to O’Sullivan’s goal. Cork’s hardest triers were defenders, Donal Buckley, Michael Maloney and Jim Murphy; midfielders Michael Mullins and forwards John O’Sullivan and Ger Mulcahy.

SCORERS Galway: K. O’Sullivan 1-2, S Ruane 0-2, P. Conroy 0-2, K Donnellan 0-2, G. McManus and L Higgins 0-1 each. Cork: M. Mullins 0-2, P. McCarthy, K. O’Leary, J. O’Sullivan and M. Shinnock 0-1 each.

Galway: P.Coyne, M.Coleman, O. Burke, C. O’Fathartaigh, J. Kelly, R. Bermingham, G. Forde, G. Burke, capt., L. Higgins, B. Brennan, S. Ruane, P. O’Conraoi, K. O’Sullivan, G. McManus, F. Rooney. Subs: K. Donnellan for Brennan.

Cork: S. Martin, T. Healy, J. Murphy, M. Moloney, D. Buckley, J. Cremin, J. Nolan, P. McCarthy, B. McSweeney, T. Dalton, M. Mullins, P. Smith, K. O’Leary, G. Mulcahy, J. O’Sullivan. Subs: M. Shinnock for O’Leary; J. Wilmot for Dalton. Referee: M. Meally, Kilkenny.

Connacht Tribune, Friday, October 1st, 1976


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