ANDREW Dolan's father was worried as he dropped his son at the train station ahead of a night out, mourners heard yesterday.
Joe Dolan had heard of another young man who was fighting for his life in Beaumont Hospital after being attacked in the Dolans' home town of Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim.
Andrew (20) was going to meet friends in nearby Mullingar, Co Westmeath, a few days before Christmas. "Mind yourself, Andy, and be careful," Joe said.
A short time later, Andrew would also be in Beaumont, fighting for his life. The student lost that fight on New Year's Day.
Yesterday, Fr Frank Garvey told thousands of mourners -- including Andrew's parents Joe and Rosie, his brothers Gavin and Jack, and former President Mary McAleese -- that Andrew never raised his voice in anger and would go out of his way to avoid violence of any kind.
The priest appealed to young people "in Andrew's name" to look out for each other at a time when many felt it was no longer safe to walk the streets of our towns and cities.
"How utterly unthinkable that he should be the victim of such an unprovoked and vicious assault," he said.
The biomedical science student was attacked in Mullingar in the early hours of December 23. He suffered severe head injuries and died at Beaumont Hospital in the early hours of last Sunday morning.
Fr Garvey said at St Mary's Church in Carrick that everyone who respected the "precious, fragile gift of life" was trying to understand why it had happened.
"Why can young people not go out and enjoy themselves, celebrating with their friends, without the menace of an unwarranted attack from those who seem intent on random acts of violence?" he asked.
Mr Dolan's heart-breaking tribute to his son, read on his behalf by Andrew's aunt Heather Laird, told how the pair had been talking about a separate attack in Carrick as the student went to catch the train to Mullingar.
Longford man Mark O'Shea (30) continues to fight for his life at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. Prayers were said for him yesterday.
Andrew had left for Mullingar "with a song in his heart". He had given his parents the thumbs up when they asked him how the exams had gone. They, "like all proud parents", had been caught up in his joy.
But just hours after his father's warning, Andrew himself was the victim of a "vicious, senseless assault".
Yesterday, his father said he was happy that three other families were celebrating thanks to Andrew's insistence on carrying an organ-donor card.
Perhaps one of the lucky recipients would now develop an unexplained passion for Walkers crisp sandwiches or "red sauce with absolutely everything", said Mr Dolan.
Many of Andrew's old friends from Wilson's Hospital School in Multyfarnham joined other pals from Carrick Community School and NUI Galway as well as Shannon Gaels clubmates to form a guard of honour yesterday as Andrew was brought through the streets of Carrick one final time yesterday.
As the cortege moved past the Bush Hotel, which is owned by the Dolan family, staff lined the footpath in a silent tribute.
The congregation included Mrs McAleese and her husband, senator Martin McAleese; local TD Frank Feighan; the president of NUI Galway, Dr James Browne; former Ambassador Dermot Gallagher and his wife Maeve; and local senators Michael Comiskey and John Kelly.
Two men, aged 20 and 21, and a 19-year-old woman were questioned and released in connection to the attack on Mr Dolan. A file is being prepared for the DPP.