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'He Was Just An Assassin, Deadly To Finish'

'He Was Just An Assassin, Deadly To Finish'
By PJ Browne
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Colm O'Neill was forced to retire from inter-county football earlier this month aged just 29. It was another blow to a Cork senior football team already on its knees.

O'Neill's decision was made on medical advice which he said left him with no option but to hang up his inter-county boots.

"It's very sad for him," his former Cork teammate Daniel Goulding told Balls at an Electric Ireland event. The two won an All-Ireland together in 2010.

O'Neill's career was blighted by injuries, particularly three cruciate ligament tears. Despite so many blows, his talent still shone through.

"The other side is he maximised totally what he got considering the amount of injuries he had. Crazy resilient.

"It's funny, if you hung around with him, you'd never know he was injured because you'd never hear him complain - I don't think I ever heard him once complain. It's amazing considering the injuries he's been through. He was a very positive lad, always put the team first."

Goulding believes the most disappointing setback which O'Neill suffered was in 2013 during a league game against Donegal.


It was probably the worst one beacuse he was just taking his game to another level. He was after an All-Star in 2012.

I remember I was on the bench when he did it - I was only coming back from injury. I was watching him in the first half and he got two points where the crowd was just in awe. Donegal people were clapping it.

Then the next thing a third cruciate gone and he was back to where he was again.

On the pitch, Goulding said O'Neill was "just quality, an absolute baller".

"We were very similar - I wouldn't say lazy - but we both liked being given the ball and shooting. He was just an assassin, deadly to finish.


"As the pressure got bigger, he got better."


Donncha O'Connor, another of Cork 2010 All-Ireland winning forwards, also retired in recent weeks. O'Connor's career had remarkable longevity - he called time on his inter-county career at 37.

"He would have done a lot of the donkey work for the two of us," said Goulding.

"His movement was crazy. Again, a great leader.


"It's frightening to think he played Mayo last year at 36-years-old and for 40 minutes he was nearly unstoppable in that qualifier - they could have beaten Mayo. Two great lads and they owe Cork football nothing.

"He knew exactly what was required and what he needed to do to get his body right. He's another fella who was injured a lot but you never heard complaints about it, just got on with it. He just knew how important Cork football was.

"I have no doubt Donncha and Colm will be around the scene and come back in some capacity and use that character."


All-Star winning Cork footballer, Daniel Goulding has teamed up with Electric Ireland as  part of its GAA ‘This is Major’ campaign, to offer one lucky GAA team the chance to win an exclusive training session. Head to facebook.com/ElectricIreland to enter.

Goulding is serving on a four-man awards selection panel throughout the Championship season, alongside fellow GAA legends, Michael Fennelly, Ollie Canning and Sean Cavanagh. The panel continue to select Player of the Week nominations each week, which are put to public vote on the Electric Ireland Facebook page and at the end of the season the panel will be choosing the Hurling and Football Teams of the Year at the 2018 Electric Ireland Minor Star Awards.

Picture credit: Sportsfile


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