LAST SUNDAY should have been a great day in De La Salle Crescent in Ardee.
John 'Beachy' McCreanor would be celebrating his 33rd birthday with his family.
But the unthinkable struck down the family and the wider community last week when news broke that John had collapsed and died at his home.
So, last Friday they gathered to say a final farewell instead, grief stricken for an immensely popular young man, hundreds upon hundreds poured through the doors of the local church, intent on saying their own personal goodbye to one of the really good guys in this world.
The guard of honour was a mix of rugby men and women, of schoolchildren and friends. Movingly, as the cortege travelled from his home to the church in Ardee, a row of pupils and teachers from Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire stood in silence, their own expression of sympathy with a devastated family.
Fr. Anselm, addressing the large congregation, spoke about the many questions that arose when a young person dies, but there were few answers.
He revealed John had been an altar server as a schoolboy and went on to work in Glanbia in Drogheda.
But it was as a sportsman that many got to know his true nature, be it with Hunterstown Rovers, the golf club, or the rugby fields with Boyne RFC and Ardee.
'His sudden death is heartbreaking. Life is like a stage, people come and dance and then leave, but he leaves a great legacy,' Fr. Anselm, who concelebrated the mass with Fr. Conlon from Duleek, added.
The mass heard how the future Boyne club first encountered 'Beachy'. He was on the Ardee under 14 team that arrived up to Bryanstown for a match and they didn't have a coach with them. 'Beachy' just told everyone what to do!
His team mate James Fay, somehow showing the composure of a lionheart, rose to speak and said those with him always had to live with his passion for the game. ' He could play No.1 to No.15 and then tell you how to play your game. That was him.'
His children read a poem about their dad, ' always smiling and playing' while his sister, Lisa Ann sang beautifully at the conclusion, her voice like a warm sunbeam stretching across a winter's morning.
His burial then took place to Ballapousta.
'Beachy' took his leave from this earth in the month of November, remembrance month. Indeed, so many will always remember him.
'He shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary him, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember him.'
John McCreanor is survived by his partner Tanya, daughters, Casey and Leona, parents, Michael and Mairead, brothers and sisters, Lisa Ann, Miriam, James, Karen, Niall and Noelle, other family and to put it mildly, a legion of friends.