Former Cork footballer Kieran O'Connor sadly died yesterday and it got us thinking of Davy Russell's amazing tribute to him back at Aintree in 2019. Here's the story that we originally published after Tiger Roll did the double and Russell dedicated the win to O'Connor.
After making history by steering Tiger Roll to becoming the first back-to-back winner of the Grand National since 1974, Davy Russell paid tribute to Kieran O'Connor, a former Cork footballer suffering from Ewing’s Sarcoma Cancer - a rare bone disease.
A visibly emotional Russell was overwhelmed after the Gordon Elliott-trained runner cruised past the post to secure the showpiece of the Aintree Festival, and cement a legacy beside names such as Red Rum in the process.
Immediately after the race, the veteran jockey ensured he mentioned the former Leeside footballer as he struggled to find words for television viewers.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) April 6, 2019
Speaking to ITV Racing, Russell said:
There's a guy at home, Kieran O'Connor from Aghada, and he's going through an enormous battle of his life. Just to let him know that we're thinking of him. He played football for Cork, he gave his life to sport and he's a great fan of mine. This one's for Kieran.
At my age now, if you're after winning two Grand Nationals, it's madness.
He's (Tiger Roll) one hell of a horse. The O'Learys have been so good to me throughout my career and Gordon. What can you say?
O'Connor played for the Cork senior footballers for a number of years, winning an All-Ireland in 2010