Funeral held for Ballymena and Larne footballer Davy Smyth
The funeral has taken place for footabller Davy Smyth, the youngest player to win the Irish cup.
A stalwart for both Larne and Ballymena United in the 1980s, he was instantly recognisable to supporters with his trademark long hair and beard. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, Davy continued playing for the Northern Ireland veteran football team well into this year until his failing health finally forced him off the pitch. Aged just 53, he died on Christmas night after an 18-month battle with the illness.
The funeral was held at All Saints Church in Ballymena, Co Antrim on Thursday morning.
Players from Larne and Ballymena wore black armbands during their boxing day matches.
Aged just 17, Davy was a part of the Ballymena team that defeated Glenavon 1-0 in the 1981 Irish Cup final. Remarkably, it was only his third first-team appearance.
He later moved to Larne and became part of the most celebrated first XI in Inver Park history in 1987 when the club won the Ulster cup.
With Davy patrolling the midfield, Larne would reach several other finals.
His footballing career was followed by a successful life in business as he helped to found the Xtra-vision video rental chain.
Paul Carland, Larne's captain at the time, called him "a super guy on the pitch and a super guy off the pitch".
Ballymena manager David Jeffrey had known Davy since the start of his playing career.
"As a 17-year-old he did stand out," he recalled.
"He was tenacious in the tackle, he worked very hard. Simply a talented and dedicated footballer. He took everything in his stride."
Veteran sports broadcaster Jackie Fullerton called him "a very pleasant man" who had become part of Ballymena's "folklore" with the Irish cup win.
"I was working at the derby game today between Ballymena and Coleraine and I was pleased to see the Ballymena players wearing black armbands in memory of a trophy winner of the past. I send my condolences to all of the family circle at this dreadfully sad time," he said.