Belfast Telegraph

Stynes to have Aussie state funeral

Irish-born Australian rules football star Jim Stynes, who lost his battle with cancer, will receive a state funeral in his adopted home country.

The 45-year-old died at his home in Melbourne on Monday surrounded by his family and friends, including wife Sam and children Matisse and Tiernan.

A former Dublin minor footballer, Stynes played 264 games with Melbourne and remains the only player recruited outside Australia to win the Brownlow Medal, awarded for the "fairest and best" player in the Australian Football League (AFL).

Tributes were paid to the sportsman in the Australian parliament in Canberra by prime minister Julia Gillard and leader of the opposition Tony Abbott.

Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who was a guest at the parliament with Ireland's ambassador to Australia, Noel White, said he was deeply saddened to learn of the death.

"Through his immense sporting achievements in the AFL and as a Brownlow Medallist, and subsequently through his work with young people with the Reach organisation, Jim touched the lives of many people," said Mr Shatter.

"The decision of the Australian authorities to honour Jim with a state funeral is an indication of the high esteem in which he was rightly held and a fitting tribute to a man who devoted his life to the wellbeing of others.

"His death is a great loss which will be deeply felt by his many friends and admirers in Ireland and in Australia, but most of all by his wife and family to whom I express my deepest condolences."

Christy Cooney, president of the GAA, said: "You only have to take note of the massive outpouring that has accompanied his passing to fully understand the regard he was held in - on both sides of the world."

He won an All-Ireland minor football medal with Dublin in 1984 and was on the first Ballyboden St Endas Juvenile team to win a championship - U16 football 1981 - before embarking on a long and hugely successful career in Australia.

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