People at the funeral of murder victim Paul McCready have been told that his death has been "unbearably sad and cruel" for his family.
Fr Peter Carlin expressed the community's deepest sympathy and conveyed their "shock and sorrow" to Paul's partner Ruth, his two sons Eoin and Paul, and the rest of his family.
The 31-year-old died after an altercation in the Northern Whig pub in Belfast city centre at around 12.50am on Sunday.
It spilled on to the street, and it is understood that Mr McCready, from north Belfast, hit his head on the pavement.
He passed away in hospital in the early hours of Sunday.
Fr Carlin said that although Paul could not control the way he died, he could control how he lived.
"He spent the days before his death loving and touching the lives of many people around him," Fr Carlin said.
The Requiem Mass took place at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour before his body was taken to Carnmoney Cemetery for burial.
Quoting the opening line of TS Eliot's 1922 poem The Waste Land, Fr Carlin said that "April is the cruellest month" as it was a reminder that the hope of new life that spring draws out is always fragile.
He added: "I'm sure, like everyone, Paul had the feeling last week of uplift, that spring is sprung."
In summing up Mr McCready, the priest pointed to September 8, the day when he became engaged to his partner of more than a decade, as a significant one in his life.
"I think it's telling that from that date forward they were never a day apart," he said. "He loved Eoin and Paul to bits."
Fr Carlin referred to a recent conversation Paul had with his brother Mark to sum up his attitude to being a father, in which he told him: "You will never love anyone as much as your own kids. Be the best dad you can be."
Grieving family and friends were told how Paul's "fearless do or die attitude" became apparent as he grew up in a house on Cliftonville Avenue with his parents Paddy and Alice, and that his "fierce determination" translated easily onto the football pitch.
Mr McCready formerly played for Cliftonville Olympic and also coached the under-eights at Newington Football Club.
Members of two youth squads from the north Belfast club where he coached formed a guard of honour at the entrance to the chapel.