A THOUSAND mourners from the world of GAA gathered in the tiny village of Kilbeacanty today to bid farewell to tragic hurler Niall Donohue.
His father Francis, brother Shane and sister Orla were comforted by family as they made their way into St Columba's Church in their hometown.
The small church was packed to capacity with two marquees set up outside to accommodate the additional mourners who travelled from across the country to pay their respects.
As the coffin made it's way to Kilbeacanty Church it made one final stop at Niall's beloved local GAA pitch where members of the Galway Senior panel formed a guard of honour. They then accompanied their former teammate to the Church, carrying his coffin into the Church. There members of local under age club Michael Cusacks formed a guard of honour with members of the county team and local Kilbeacanty team leading the coffin into the Church.
The 22-year-old was found dead at his home on Wednesday night. He would have celebrated his 23rd birthday last Friday.
For the past two days, hurling stars had called to the Donohue family home where Niall's remains were waked. Renowned Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody paid his respects yesterday as did retired Cork hurler Tomas Mulcahy. Niall's teammates from the Galway senior panel were joined by his second cousin Clare hurler Shane O'Donnell at the family home.
President of the GAA Liam O'Neill and legendary GAA commentator Micheal O'Muircheartaigh called to the family home on Friday night. A number of Chairmen from the GAA heirarchy around the country also called to the Donohue family home including Ned Quinn of the Kilkenny County Board, Leinster Council Chairman Martin Skelly and Frank Burke, Chairman of the Connacht Council. Noel Treacy, Chairman of the Galway County Board and Galway manager Anthony Cunningham also called to the home.
The remains of the popular young hurler were brought home on Friday evening where the family, his father Francis, brother Shane and sister Orla held a private vigil with relatives. From 3pm yesterday, friends, colleagues, teammates and hurling fans made their way to the family home in Ballyturn outside Kilbeacanty to sympathise with the family and pay their respects.
The family home was private this morning before the funeral giving the family time to grieve privately.
As a mark of respect for Niall, the Galway SHC final between Loughrea and Portumna which had been due to take place today has been rescheduled to tomorrow.