|Teddy O'Connor (1920-1995)|
"I have no hesitation in rating him one of the finest half backs Kerry produced –and God knows the Kingdom had some great ones .Teddy O’Connor epitomised all that is best in a Kerry footballer – a classy player with marvellous mastery of the skills. He outfielded his much taller rivals and was an excellent kicker of the ball in general play and in place kicking."
This was the considered opinion of Kerry’s star full back of the 1940s the legendary Joe Keohane, who goes on to say his most abiding memory of Teddy was the 1948 All Ireland semi-final, “when a team I captained was well beaten by Mayo. Kerry were all at sea but Teddy drove back the Green and Red with a fine a display of wing back play as I have ever seen at any time”.
The ‘Football Immortals’ author Raymond Smith wrote that Teddy O’Connor gave his best ever display in the Green and Gold in the 1947 semi-final versus Meath and a Monday morning report of the 1950 Munster final at the Cork Athletic grounds had him marked down as man of the match. 1950 was also the year Teddy was honoured as captain of the Kingdom but it was another All Ireland semi final loss, this time to Louth.
Although a mere 10 stone and standing at 5 foot 9 inches he also performed at midfield, where he played when winning his All Ireland medal against Roscommon in 1946 and was again in that position the following year against Cavan in the New York Polo Grounds. Teddy was able to out jump his better physically endowed opponents and he had an unbelievable will to win, that characterised the greats of our games . He was also centre field when winning two Kerry County Championship medals, in 1949 with a combined Dr. Crokes and Legion combination and in 1951 with a Dr Crokes backed divisional side, the Dick Fitzgeralds.
During those years Teddy was also a strong force for Munster when his kicking from play and from frees helped them to win the Railway Cup in 1948 and 1949.
After another All Ireland semi final loss to Mayo in 1951 Teddy with many more of the forties team retired after the Munster final of 1952.
Teddy O’Connor was born in Ardmoneil Killorglin and first came to the notice of the Kerry selectors when he played with the Kerry minors in 1938. He joined the army in 1940 where he teamed up with Corks Eamonn Young to win a Cork Intermediate championship and he also played senior championship with Bantry.
He came to work in Killarney in 1946, he joined the Dr Crokes and for the rest of life was one of the clubs greats - as a player, officer and club delegate to the East Kerry and Co Board.
Right through those great years with Kerry and Munster, Teddy was tour de force for Dr Crokes, always first man at the meeting place, coaxing and cajoling others until they had the necessary 15 and it was only fitting that in his last game for the club he gave a brilliant display at full back when winning their first of seven in a row East Kerry Championships in 1956.
Like the ‘Pioneers of the West’ he blazed the trail for future Croke success and he kept his G.A.A. interest alive after his playing days when he became a Kerry senior selector .
This lion hearted footballer, a publican in High Street, was a keen Hurler, Basketballer, and later angling which took most of his spare time.
His son Tadhg starred for the Kerry minors and Dr Crokes until a series of injuries hampered his progress in following Teddy’s illustrious steps.
Whenever or wherever great footballers or great teams are written or spoken of, Teddy O’Connor would have to come into the equation