Saturday 1 October 2016

Dave the best GAA person I ever came across

Published 20/04/2015 | 02:30

Dave Billings
Dave Billings

I have had the good fortune to meet some wonderful GAA people, from star players to officials and ordinary club people.

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But the very best GAA person I have come across was the man who died suddenly last week aged 63, Dave Billings.

Now Dave was not a GAA superstar, neither was a he a brilliant media person or a super manager or even a top officer of the organisation. So why would I rate him so highly?

Simply because he was a perfect member of the GAA in the way he conducted his affairs. I first managed him in 1973 when he played for UCD in a famous Sigerson Cup final against UCG, culminating in a replay on Easter Sunday that brought nearly 10,000 to the old Pearse Stadium.

It was a match between two star-studded sides that UCD won. Dave was not a star player; he was an old-style corner back - he would eat you before his breakfast.

A year later in 1974 he won an All-Ireland medal under Kevin Heffernan. But from there on Dave devoted himself more to club activities when after taking early retirement he was appointed a full-time GAA Officer with UCD involving football, hurling, camogie, ladies football and handball. This was a mammoth task in an expanding university but Dave transformed the GAA there.

Dave was a counsellor, a coach, a psychologist and a mentor to thousands of young men and women.

He absolutely loved hurling and hurling people, and as a true-Blue Dub he revelled in the banter with the 'culchies', who far outweighed the Dubs in the college.

Dave will be sorely missed, especially by his wife Annette and his children Liam, Cathal, Hannah and Neal.

They can be consoled that they lived with the type of GAA person that has created the great organisation we have today.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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