TRIBUTES have been paid to a Garryowen rugby player who passed away at the weekend, after bravely battling with leukaemia for three years.
A large number of Garryowen club members travelled to Stradbally in Co Laois to pay their final respects to Michael ‘Mick’ McEvoy, who died aged just 27 last Sunday. “We were all aware he was ill but in our heart of hearts we were hoping for better news in 2014,” said Christy Barry, the honorary president of Garryowen club.
“Sadly he slipped away after a courageous battle borne with great grace and dignity. We will miss him very much,” he said.
Mr Barry said Michael travelled 75 miles twice a week to train with the club, not including match days, and was someone who had always shown great loyalty at the grassroots level.
“There was a wonderful send off for him, he was a very kind and gentle man. We all have very fond memories of him, and he played in the 2010 AIB Cup Final,” he said.
The Garryowen jersey was placed on his coffin as he was removed from the Sacred Heart Church and laid to rest in Oakvale Cemetery, Stradbally. All of Portlaoise’s games were called off over the weekend as a mark of respect. Michael, who played in the second-row, wearing the number five jersey, moved on from Portlaoise when Garryowen came calling. “Like any player at a junior club, he aspired to greater things. Garryowen looked for him, and he went down to give it a try, and he was there or thereabouts on the team when he got sick,” said former Portlaoise RFC President Ciaran Reilly.
He is survived by his parents Catherine and JJ, sister Frances, grandmother Frankie, and his beloved girlfriend Brid Ann.