LEGENDARY Dublin manager Kevin Heffernan brought a large part of the capital to a standstill today for one last time.
The footballing genius was laid to rest amid tributes to his integrity and leadership. His requiem Mass in Marino was told of the enormous service he had gifted to Dublin and to football all over Ireland.
Former Dublin manager Tony Hanahoe described him as "a Renaissance Man, probably a man before his time. But contrary to rumours, he did not rule by fear. He was a planner, he had great patience, huge determination and commitment," he said.
Mr Hanahoe said that to concentrate solely on Heffo’s achievements of the 1970s would be an injustice.
He told the mourners: "He had what appeared a tough exterior, but to some extent I always believed that tough exterior was a camouflage for his shyness and modesty." He added the legendary manager "was available for advice and help. He was a gentleman throughout."
A second tribute from former Dubs manager Pat Gilroy hailed Heffo as an "unstintingly loyal" friend. "He created a very healthy legacy, such as how to carry success" he added. "He was very humble, he never sought fame or accolades."
“He faced his illness as he had lived his life – with great dignity, the utmost integrity and a steely willpower.”
GAA President Liam O’Neill said before entering the church that Kevin Heffernan had made an extraordinary contribution to football in the capital.
He said Kevin “brought Gaelic football to the masses”, adding: “Gaelic Football would not be where it is in Ireland today without Kevin Heffernan.”
Chief mourners at the huge funeral were wife Mary, daughter Orla, son-in-law Paul O’Connor, grandchildren Kevin and Aisling, sisters Pauline and Claire, and his extended family.
Another representative of the Government was Art and Sports Minister Jimmy Deenihan, himself a former Kerry great. League of Ireland soccer legend Ben Hannigan, a hero of Shelbourne in the 1960s, and Noel King, formerly of Shamrock Rovers, were in attendance.
A giant of the GAA, Heffo captained the Dublin footballers to All-Ireland victory in 1958.
He also won 21 county titles with his club, St Vincent's, and transformed the fortunes of the Dubs in the 1970s, guiding the football team to three All-Ireland titles between 1974 and 1983.
After the funeral mass, Kevin Heffernan was taken from the church to a round of applause and was then taken past a guard-of-honour by pupils from Scoil Mhuire CBS, where he attended primary school. He was laid to rest in St Fintan's cemetery in Sutton Cross.