Tipperary hurler and footballer Eddie Connolly dies

‘Eddie battled his illness with huge determination, positivity and bravery,’ says local GAA club

The Tipperary hurler and footballer Eddie Connolly has died. He had battled brain cancer for two years.

The 29-year-old Loughmore-Castleiney native took ill while playing in the Tipperary senior hurling semi-final in 2013, and underwent surgery the following week in Cork.

A natural defender, he played at corner forward in the club’s successful run in the Tipperary and Munster senior club hurling championships in 2007. By then he was already a member of the Tipperary senior football panel, and made his debut for the county’s senior hurling side in 2011, at corner back in the national league against Offaly. The following year he captained the Tipperary intermediate team to Munster and All-Ireland success from centre back.

A huge fundraiser for the Eddie Connolly Trust Fund was planned for tonight at Thurles Greyhound Track. At the request of the Connolly family, the event will go ahead.

A statement by the Loughmore-Castleiney GAA club, read: “Eddie battled his illness with huge determination, positivity and bravery. Eddie was a hugely popular guy and his popularity has been reflected in recent weeks with the unprecedented response to the Eddie Connolly Trust Fund.We extend our heart filled sympathies to Eddies parents Jim and Maureen, his sisters Niamh and Fiona, brothers James and Ger and the Connolly family.”

Eddie was involved in several charity events, including a 6km fun run near Semple Stadium just before Christmas, 2013. “I met Eddie when he and the Tipperary senior hurlers presented St Luke’s with an amazing €20,117,” said Deirdre Hughes of The Friends of St Luke’s Hospital earlier this week. “But that wasn’t enough for Eddie – he went on to play in The Charity GAA Match 2014 and was an amazing help with the fundraising efforts both last year and this year, even though he wasn’t well enough to play this year.”

The intercounty players involved in that charity match last month – which involved former hurlers and footballers that had suffered from some form of cancer – came up with the idea of the fundraising initiative, “Score4Eddie”.

The campaign involves people uploading videos of themselves scoring a goal, and texting the word Match to 50300 to donate €4, which is split between St Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar and the Eddie Connolly Trust Fund.

In paying tribute to Eddie, Tipperary County Board chairman Michael Bourke said, “when the light of life is extinguished in someone young it always strikes to the heart with immense pain and grief. With the passing of Eddie Connolly that pain and grief is more intensified because Eddie was determined to overcome this battle and get back to what he did and loved best, playing for his club and county.

“Eddie took to this his greatest test with the same determination and belief that he carried to the fields of play with Loughmore Castleiney and Tipperary, a true warrior in every sense of the word.”

Reposing at his residence on Saturday, 19th September from 3pm to 8pm. Arriving at Loughmore Church on Sunday morning, 20th September for Funeral Mass at 11am, burial after Mass in the adjoining cemetery.

Family flowers only please, donations if desired to Milford Hospice.

House private on Sunday morning please.