Belfast Telegraph

Watch: 'A man who actively tried to bring about peace' - Cliftonville legend Tommy Breslin laid to rest in Belfast

Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

Hundreds of mourners have gathered to bid their final farewells to the late Tommy Breslin.

The former Cliftonville manager passed away suddenly on August 7 while on holiday in Spain after attending a wedding. He was 58-years-old.

Figures from the Northern Ireland sporting world and beyond attended his funeral at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast on Tuesday.

Crusader's manager Stephen Baxter, ex-Glentoran and Portadown manager Ronnie McFall, Linfield legend Glen Ferguson, comedian Tim McGarry and Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly were among the crowds of mourners.

Comedian and Cliftonville fan Tim McGarry pictured at the funeral. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Comedian and Cliftonville fan Tim McGarry pictured at the funeral. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The Cliftonville team, as well as many former players, also paid their respects.

Fr Gary Donegan said: “We acknowledge the reflections of the wider community, in particular the sporting community in the loss of Thomas.

“He's known as King Tommy of Cliftonville, the same as King Kenny Dalglish of Liverpool and why is that? It's because he's such a die hard Manchester United fan.

Tommy Breslin's coffin, flanked by Cliftonville player past and present along with managers, travels along the Cliftonville Road near to Cliftonville's ground Solitude. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Tommy Breslin's coffin, flanked by Cliftonville player past and present along with managers, travels along the Cliftonville Road near to Cliftonville's ground Solitude. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Fr Gary Donegan and sports reporter Jackie Fullerton Cliftonville fans pictured on the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where Tommy Breslin's coffin passed by flanked and carried by players, past players and managers. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Sports reporter Adrian Logan pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Fr Gary Donegan pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Ballymena manager David Jeffrey pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Comedian John Lenahan pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Former Portadown manager Ronnie McFall pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Former Cliftonville player Chris Scannell pictured as his coffin is carried along the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where it passed by flanked and carried by players, past players, managers and fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Former Cliftonville players Ryan Catney and Ronan Scannell pictured as his coffin is carried along the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where it passed by flanked and carried by players, past players, managers and fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Current Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughin and assistant manager Declan O'Hara pictured as his coffin is carried along the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where it passed by flanked and carried by players, past players, managers and fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Cliftonville's former player Ryan Catney and Barry Johnston carry his coffin along the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where it passed by flanked and carried by players, past players, managers and fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Cliftonville's former assistant manager to Tommy Breslin Peter Murray pictured as his coffin is carried along the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where it passed by flanked and carried by players, past players, managers and fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Cliftonville's former captain George McMullan and Chairman Gerard Lawlor carry his coffin along the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where it passed by flanked and carried by players, past players, managers and fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Cliftonville's former captain George McMullan, Chairman Gerard Lawlor , former assistant manager to Tommy Breslin Peter Murray and current captain Chris Curran carry his coffin along the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where it passed by flanked and carried by players, past players, managers and fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Cliftonville's Chairman Gerard Lawlor , former assistant manager to Tommy Breslin Peter Murray and current captain Chris Curran carry his coffin along the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where it passed by flanked and carried by players, past players, managers and fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Cliftonville's former captain George McMullan, Chairman Gerard Lawlor , former assistant manager to Tommy Breslin Peter Murray and current captain Chris Curran carry his coffin along the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where it passed by flanked and carried by players, past players, managers and fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Cliftonville's former assistant manager to Tommy Breslin Peter Murray and current captain Chris Curran carry his coffin along the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where it passed by flanked and carried by players, past players, managers and fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Cliftonville fans pictured on the Cliftonville Road near their home ground Solitude where Tommy Breslin's coffin passed by flanked and carried by players, past players and managers. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge. Martin Donnelly (Left) and other players. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Former Cliftonville player Barry Johnston pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Former Linfield striker Glenn Ferguson pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Comedian and Cliftonville fan Tim McGarry pictured at the funeral. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Former Portadown manager Ronnie McFall pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly and Carl N Chuiln pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th August 2019 Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin at St Gerard's Church on the Antrim Road in north Belfast. The 58-year-old died suddenly while on holiday in Spain three weeks ago. Mr Breslin led Cliftonville FC to eight trophies in four seasons while in charge Comedian and Cliftonville fan Tim McGarry pictured at the funeral. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter pictured at the funeral. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

“We say to Tommy thank you for all that he gave. Not just just to his family but to our community, our faith, to our nation.

“There was not a sectarian bone in you, you were a man who actively tried to bring about peace through the work with people.

“May we honour him by each one of us taking up that mantra of peace.”

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter pictured at the funeral. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter pictured at the funeral. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

A former Reds player, Mr Breslin (58) was assistant to Eddie Patterson from 2005 and took the reins himself at Solitude in 2011.

He led Cliftonville to back-to-back league titles in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons with an exciting side that played some of the best football ever seen in the Irish Premiership.

In four-and-a-half years, he won eight trophies, making him the most successful boss in the north Belfast club's 140-year history.

As well as the Gibson Cup, he guided the club to three consecutive League Cup triumphs, two Co Antrim Shield victories and a Charity Shield win.

His former club held a minute's applause at Coleraine prior to kick-off in their opening game of the season on August 10.

Mr Breslin's funeral cortege made a commemorative stop at Solitude on the way to Roselawn Cemetery, where he was laid to rest.

He is survived by his partner Valerie and sisters Bernadette, Anne, Maura and Paula.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph