Liam Connor, who set up famous Séamus Darby All-Ireland winning goal passes away

Séamus Darby, scorer of arguably the most famous goal in GAA history, has added to the tributes paid to the man who supplied him with the decisive pass in the 1982 All-Ireland SFC final, Liam Connor, who died on Monday evening.

Offaly full back Connor fired in the angled delivery that allowed Darby to collect, turn and flash home the goal which clinched victory and denied Kerry an unprecedented fifth successive title.

Connor played for the county from 1979 to 1986 and also won three Leinster championships. Healso captured six Offaly titles and two Leinster club crowns with Walsh Island.

Connor passed away in Waterford at the age of 58 and Darby remembers a “quiet and unassuming” character who shunned the limelight.

With Kerry clinging on in the 1982 decider, it was Connor who abandoned his fullback position for a decisive foray into opposition territory.

Thundering up the field
Darby reflected: "Liam came thundering up the field and dropped it right in on top of me. It worked for me as well and that's the way it went. Liam just got on with his business – he wasn't a very flamboyant bloke.

“He was one of the guys that wouldn’t be in the limelight but he played in two All-Ireland finals against the Bomber (Eoin) Liston and did very well on him.

“That was an achievement in itself as Bomber was one of the great full forwards.

“Liam was a very easy guy to get on with, unassuming and did his own thing. He wouldn’t be looking for the limelight and was a fella that you’d love to meet.

“At the time, he didn’t take a drink but he did in later years. He had his few pints and he was a fella you’d always look forward to running into if you could.

“And for the goal, in fairness to him, he saw exactly what needed to be done. He came and left Eoin Liston in the hole behind, and took the ball on the burst.”

Eugene McGee, manager of that team, remembers Connor as an “unsung hero” in that Offaly set-up.

“He wasn’t one of the flashier players or big name stars, even though he was one of the four Connors (along with brother Tomás and cousins Matt and Richie),” said McGee.

“He wasn’t a flamboyant player in those days. He had a specific job to do and that was his role. He was encouraged and pushed forward to try and compete with Eoin Liston.

“When he arrived, we were in the process of trying to beat Dublin in Leinster. We did in 1980 (Leinster final) and then we were confronted by Kerry.”

The Kingdom beat Offaly by five points in the 1980 All-Ireland semi-final – and by seven points in the final a year later.

But 1982 would be Offaly’s year and Connor’s brother-in-law McGee recalls: “Liston was an amazing man to compete against – he had everything going for him at the time. But Liam had the physique to match – 6ft 3in tall, very athletic and tough as nails. Liam managed to cope with Liston reasonably well.

“Liston was unmanageable at the time so you couldn’t play him out of the game but you could cope with him as best you could.

“Liam’s role was very important because Eoin could have single-handedly destroyed us.

“And as I said to his eldest son Mark shortly before he died, as long as DVDs are in existence, your Dad will never be forgotten.

“He kicked the ball to Darby and I have no doubt that he meant to kick it to him. That is the defining memory of both people (Connor and Darby).”

“But without the pass, there would have been no goal and no All-Ireland.

“So while Seamus gets the credit, it’s only now and over the next few weeks when the clips are being shown that people will realise who gave him the ball.

“And for a full -back to find himself 50 yards from the Kerry goal epitomised the attitude of that team in that particular match.

“It was hell for leather – take them on from start to finish and force them to do unusual things.

“It shouldn’t have been Liam – it should have Matt or Richie or Seán Lowry giving in that ball but Liam had the brains and courage to go forward.

“I don’t know what would have gone through his mind but he had a big decision to make looking into Hill 16 and the game nearly over.

"But there was a coolness about Liam and he'd been matching guys like Jimmy Keaveney and Anton O'Toole against Dublin.

“He was used to marking marquee forwards.”

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