TRIBUTES have been pouring in from the world of sport for inspirational teenager Donal Walsh who lost his battle with cancer on Sunday night.
Donal from Tralee – whose father Fionnbar hails from Knocklong – captured the hearts and minds of the nation last month when he spoke candidly to Brendan O’Connor on the Saturday Night Show about his battle with cancer, his love of life and his bid to help stop suicide among his young peers.
The 16-year-old was diagnosed with cancer for the third time last October. He passed away at his home in Blennerville at 8.15 on Sunday evening surrounded by his dad Fionnbar, his mother Elma and his sister Jema.
A fanatical Munster supporter, Donal was credited with inspiring Paul O’Connell’s man-of-the-match performance against Harlequins in Munster’s memorable Heineken Cup quarter final victory last month.
The teen said that the Limerick rugby giant had been like a “big brother” to him since his cancer diagnosis.
Since news of his passing on Sunday evening, tributes have been paid by stars from across the sporting world.
Munster and Ireland star Simon Zebo expressed his sadness at the news, on his Twitter account :”Very sad to hear about Donal!!Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends!!
Former Munster and Ireland star Alan Quinlan tweeted; “Very sad to hear of the passing of an inspirational young man Donal Walsh. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family #RIPDonal”.
All Blacks star Dan Carter also expressed his sympathies, tweeting: “Sad to hear the news of young @Donal_Walsh_ #RIP #inspiration thoughts go out to his family and friends.”
Many rugby stars are expected to attend the funeral of the teenager this week.
Donal will be reposing at his home on Tuesday from 2pm to 8pm.
Requiem Mass takes place on Wednesday at 12 noon in St John’s Church Tralee with burial afterwards in Rath Cemetery.
Donal had requested that donations be made in lieu of flowers to the Palliative Care Unit, Kerry General Hospital and Care 4 Kids, care of the Gleasure Funeral Home.