Belfast Telegraph

Moving tribute as ex-Cliftonville player Paul Straney laid to rest

By Michelle Weir

A former Irish League goalkeeper who tragically died was "a gentleman off the pitch", mourners at his funeral heard.

Paul Straney (42) passed away suddenly last Thursday.

Best known for a five-year spell at Cliftonville, Mr Straney also played for Glenavon, Newry, Glentoran and Telford United.

Among those at his funeral Mass at St Patrick's Church in Downpatrick yesterday were Linfield manager David Healy, Cliftonville striker Joe Gormley and ex-Fifa vice-president and Cliftonville official Jim Boyce.

Welcoming mourners, parish priest Fr John Murray said that they were present in respect for a "fellow athlete and friend".

"I offer two words this morning, the words of memory and glory," he said. "At every funeral Mass, we want to focus on the human memory. Memories of Paul, that is why so many are here this morning.

"You have been thinking of occasions that you shared together, words that you shared together that will, in a sense, warm your hearts in the weeks ahead."

Fr Murray said Mr Straney was a "gentleman off the pitch".

"That is the most important thing," he added. "The lifespan of prowess and ability comes to an end all too shortly. What they are like as people, that is what matters.

"Many are here because of Paul's great association with sport, playing for several Irish League teams, Glenavon, Newry Town and Cliftonville.

"Paul was that very important position. Goalkeepers are very important."

Fr Murray said Mr Straney was able to bring that prowess and expertise to the different teams that he coached.

"I cannot begin to do justice but all of you will have your own special memories of Paul and will cherish them," he added.

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