Flanked by teammates, GAA star Gooch Cooper says a final farewell to his mother
GAA star Colm 'the Gooch' Cooper was flanked by his Kerry teammates, family and friends as he bade an emotional farewell to his mother Maureen yesterday.
The president of the GAA, Liam O'Neill, was also among the mourners at the funeral of Maureen Cooper in Killarney.
Chief celebrant Fr Kevin McNamara spoke of the deep bond between Maureen and Gooch, the youngest of her seven children, and the injury that has kept him out of this year's football championship.
And he said Colm's "second coming" when he returned to fitness would be like nothing ever seen - with Maureen's assistance .
Fr McNamara added that Maureen - always in the background, never to the fore - was the centre of a loving home and had great energy for all her children.
The priest, who was also a friend of Maureen's, told how she was at the heart of her home in "Ardshan", Ardshanavooley, a 1970s housing estate in Killarney.
She was generous and without fear and faced her death with courage, not bitterness, and she was "a witness to Christian living at its very best," he said.
Always in the background at matches when her sons were playing, she would remain "under the stand" rather than watching the games.
Fr McNamara also acknowledged the "fantastic" bond between the GAA and the local community that had come to the fore in supporting the Cooper family.
Eleven priests, including friars from the Killarney Fransicans, concelebrated her funeral mass at the Church of the Resurrection.
Former Kerry manager Pat O'Shea and former players Liam Hassett, Daragh O'Cinneide and Seamus Scanlan were among the congregation that packed the church, which was built by workers including Colm's late father Mike, who died suddenly in 2006.
Mrs Cooper, who was diagnosed with cancer in March, turned 72 on July 6.
In a moving tribute, her daughter Karen said the family were grateful to have celebrated her birthday - and that she was now with her "soul mate", their late father Mike.
There was hardly a dry eye in the church as Colm and his four brothers and brother-in- law shouldered Maureen's coffin from the altar to the strains of the old Irish song, A Mother's Love's a Blessing.
Outside in the glorious August sunshine, Maureen's coffin was draped in the black and amber of Dr Crokes, the GAA club so closely associated with her family. Dozens of club members formed a guard of honour as the Gooch and his siblings led mourners from the church and they later paused outside Ardshanavooley.
Maureen was buried at Aghadoe Cemetery.