Thousands of people who attended a walk for former GAA footballer Kieran O’Connor have been told that the All Ireland winner will “come out the other side of the long battle ahead”.
The former Aghada clubman has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and faces possible travel abroad for additional medical expertise.
News of his condition has sparked the local and national GAA communities to rush to his aid, with yesterday’s 5km walk from the Aghada GAA ground attended by up to 4,000 people.
Among those departing the ground at 2pm were friends and foes from the era in which Kieran played senior inter-county for Cork, as well as Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin.
According to the secretary of the Friends of Kieran campaign, Claire Fox Connolly, those lending their support included around 90% of the Cork 2010 All-Ireland-winning side, plus many of his contemporaries from Kerry, including Tomás Ó Sé.
Members of the current Cork and Kerry football teams were also present, as were some Cork senior hurlers.
Kieran and his family were also present, and his brother, Patrick, told those assembled that the message of positivity sent by the huge crowd gathered would help Kieran come out the other side of the long battle ahead.
“I have no doubt he will come out of it,” Patrick O’Connor said.
Those who attended the walk were able to contribute to the Friends of Kieran Campaign, while a GoFundMe page has already streaked past its target of €250,000, with almost 5,000 people pledging a total amount of close to €300,000.
However, Claire Fox Connolly said further events were planned to ensure there were sufficient funds for any potential further treatment, if it is required.
“Kieran is humbled, in awe, and full of admiration for everyone who is helping them,” she said. “He just can’t believe the response.
“The volunteers were just outstanding in Aghada community and in Aghada GAA. We are formulating this week a calendar [of events] that we will put on the website and on that we will slot in events that we will be supporting.”
The GAA community and beyond has flocked to Kieran’s aid since a piece written by his former teammate Graham Canty in the Irish Examiner three weeks ago.
In that piece, Canty said his friend embodied the values of the 2010 Cork side: “He worked hard, was honest to a fault and would do anything for the group over the course of eight years. Kieran is a man you would pick to go to war with you.”
Among the many who attended the event was Kerry’s Tomás Ó Sé, who tweeted: “The GAA family is unique and powerful.”
Financial support can be provided to help Kieran O’Connor and his family with current living and future medical expenses to beat Ewing’s Sarcoma. This will include possible travel abroad for additional urgent medical expertise.
You can donate online at www.gofundme.com/ friends-of-kieran or you can lodge money to this account at your bank.