Conor Counihan has paid tribute to the late Kieran O'Connor, remembering his clubman as someone "you couldn’t say enough about".

O'Connor died at the age of 41 yesterday, three years after being diagnosed with a rare bone tumour Ewing’s sarcoma.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Counihan looked at O’Connor’s strength on and off the field in their relationship in sport and as friends.

He said: "The test of any fella is when you’re in your darkest hour. All-Irelands and things like that pale into insignificance. He just managed himself so well over the last two and a half years. He never stopped being out there. Most of the time you met him, you wouldn’t have known there was a whole pile wrong."

The 2010 All-Ireland winning manager added: "When the kids came along, he put a massive focus on them. Sinead and them, that's what it was all about for him. He’d be fairly laid-back outside sport and great company. As a father and a husband, you couldn’t say enough about him.

"[His] family was everything for him."

O’Connor received an outpouring of support from the GAA world and all over Ireland as he battled the disease. Over €300,000 was fundraised for medical costs to support the former Cork player and his family.

"In the context of the GAA, its sense of community and what it can do, one of the positive things that came out of it was how the whole fundraising element developed. What people did for him, he was blown away by that," said Counihan.

Speaking about O'Connor's time as a Cork player - Counihan was manager for a large period of his career, including the All-Ireland victory of 2010 - he said O’Connor had an aggression that was a huge asset to the team.

"He was ultra-competitive and crossed the line a bit but that’s what made him, as the fella said. He was just good company, very ordinary, very quiet but he’d fight his corner when he had to.

"He just had speed, that competitive edge that’s essential for a good corner-back. He’d be cocky enough when it came to it. He could burst up the field and get the odd score but it was the speed and aggression that stood to him. He had those qualities in abundance and that’s what made him."

GAA President John Horan also paid tribute to O'Connor. 

"The determination and tenacity that were the hallmarks of his performances on the field of play were put to good use in Kieran's courageous battle with illness," he said.

"The reaction to this sad news of not only his former teammates, but also opposition players from his distinguished career says so much about the respect in which he was held.

"I've no doubt his impact will ensure that his memory lives on at club and county level and our deepest sympathies go to Kieran's wife Sinéad, their three children, Isabelle, Ava and James, his parents Pat and Mary, sister Aisling and brothers Patrick and John Paul and to his colleagues with Aghada and Cork for their loss."