'Independent' rugby writer dies aged 85
Journalism has lost one of its great characters with the death of former Irish Independent rugby correspondent Sean Diffley.
Sean, pictured, will be fondly remembered for his astute observations on sport, most notably rugby and athletics. He celebrated his 85th birthday last Friday.
Irish Independent Editor Stephen Rae paid tribute: "Sean was one of the true greats of sports journalism. His professionalism, integrity and good nature represented a beacon for his colleagues. He was a great ambassador for the paper and made great friendships with many of those in sport about whom he had written.
"Sean will be sadly missed at the Irish Independent and we send our deepest sympathy to his family."
He'll also be remembered fondly for his dry wit. He was a gentleman to his fingertips, except, as his daughter Anne-Marie put it, when he was behind the wheel of a car.
If that was a slight shortcoming, then there was precious little else to complain about. 'Diffo' was born in Clondalkin, Dublin, the son of a garda, Michael, and his wife Rose.
He was educated at Blackrock College, where his great passion was athletics.
His career in journalism started in the 'Irish Press', where he covered the 1968 Mexico and 1972 Munich Olympics.
Like many other journalists of the time, he left for Munich as a sports writer and ended up as a war correspondent because of the 'Black September' hostage situation. He went on to join the Independent group, where he served for many years as the rugby correspondent, covering both Lions tours and World Cups.
A resident of Blackrock, he loved reading and never lost his capacity to have a strong opinion and put it in print.
Remarkably, he was still writing his column for the Irish Independent until very recently, with his last article appearing only a few weeks back.
After a triple heart bypass operation in 2009, he had spent periods in St Vincent's Hospital and Blackrock Clinic.
Fittingly, he could look out on Blackrock College from his hospital bed at the clinic. The death of his charming wife, Pam, in 2007 was a major blow.
But he was wonderfully looked after by his three daughters, Anne-Marie, Jean and Cathy. He will be greatly missed by his family and all those who knew him; sport will be much worse off for his passing.