Members of Tyrone’s All-Ireland winning squad were among hundreds of mourners who gathered yesterday for the funeral of John Devine.
Famous faces from the world of GAA turned out to pay their final respects to Mr Devine, who passed away hours before his son, also called John, was due to play in Sunday’s All-Ireland final.
The entire Tyrone squad including manager Mickey Harte and captain Brian Dooher attended the service at St Matthew’s Church at Garvaghy.
Also present for the service was the Sam Maguire trophy which the Tyrone team won for the third time in six years when they beat Kerry by 1-15 to 0-14 at Croke Park.
On Monday night a homecoming party planned for Ballygawley was called off as a mark of respect to the Devine family while in Aughnacloy, the first stop on the victory parade, a moment’s silence was observed.
Mr Devine (78) passed away at the Tyrone County Hospital on Saturday evening.
His son had already left with the squad for Dublin but pulled out of the team for Sunday’s final to return home.
Also among the mourners yesterday was the secretary of the Ulster Council, Danny Murphy; the chairman of the Tyrone County Board, Pat Darcy; County secretary Dominic McCaughey and County delegate Cuthbert Donnelly. Representatives from other counties were also in attendance including Malachy O’Rourke, the manager of the Fermanagh GAA team.
Requiem Mass was celebrated by Fr Michael Sheery, the Parish Priest of Errigal, while the concelebrants included Fr Gerard McAleer, who was a selector for the 2003 and 2005 All-Ireland winning Tyrone teams.
The coffin was carried into the small chapel by Mr Devine’s four sons.
Outside players and staff from Errigal Ciaran GAC formed a guard of honour.
During the offertory procession the Sam Maguire trophy, which was draped in John’s Tyrone goalkeeping jersey, was brought up along with a ciborium and a family portrait.
Addressing mourners, Fr Sheery described how the GAA fraternity across Ireland had been touched by the tragedy.
“John’s death on Saturday became a national event because on Sunday in Croke Park over 82,000 people observed a minute’s silence in his memory,” he said.
“John was a keen supporter of Tyrone’s football team and had attended the two previous finals in 2003 and 2005, and he looked forward this year to watching the games on television.
“Indeed five or six months before he died, John bought a new television set so that he was guaranteed good coverage of the games.
“He would have been honoured to know that the Tyrone team wore black armbands as a sign of their sympathy and support for their colleague John.”
Fr Sheery described how John had taken an active role within the rural Errigal parish and described the great love he had for his large family.
“John was proud of all his seven children,” he added.
“He was a loving husband, a devoted father and a fond grandfather.”
Mr Devine was buried in the adjoining cemetery.