Belfast Telegraph

Brother's moving tribute to Stynes

The death of Aussie Rules star Jim Stynes has left a 6ft 7ins gap in people's lives, his brother has told thousands of mourners at his funeral.

The 45-year-old Irishman, who lost a long battle with cancer last week, was honoured with a state funeral at St Paul's Cathedral in his adopted home town of Melbourne.

Outside the church, about 5,000 fans poured into the city's Federation Square to watch the service on a big screen.

Stynes, a former Dublin GAA footballer, moved to Australia when he was 18 and made a name for himself as a sporting great and philanthropist.

His younger brother Brian gave a moving eulogy at the funeral, describing Stynes as his best friend. "He was a big, generous and fun older brother and we all adored him," he said.

In an emotional farewell to his brother, he talked about the family's sadness when Stynes first moved to Australia in 1984. "We were all devastated at the thought of Jimmy being so far away. Australia to us really was the other side of the world," said Mr Stynes.

"Jimmy was only allowed to ring home once a week. This was the highlight of our week and I can remember us all waiting to speak to Jimmy. We all loved and missed him so much."

Brian Stynes followed his brother into the sport and later played a match against him. "I tried following in his footsteps, but they were always too big," he said.

Stynes will be cremated and his ashes brought back to Ireland, where they will be scattered across the Dublin mountains.

Hundreds of people attended a memorial mass in south Dublin on Monday night. Director general of the GAA Paraic Duffy and Australian ambassador to Ireland Bruce Davis were among those in attendance at the service at Ballyroan Church in Stynes's former home parish of Knocklyon.

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