Many great names from the world of sport and beyond turned out to pay their respects to Dublin GAA legend, who died at age 68 from a brain tumour
Legendary footballer Brian Mullins “never shied away from a challenge”, and though cancer was “a fight he could not win”, it did not stop him from facing it with “incredible courage”, his son told mourners at his funeral.
“He made us all very proud. He faced on to every challenge along the way. He had an amazing courage and strength and he passed as he would like to be remembered, with great pride and dignity right up to the very end,” Bernard Mullins said.
The iconic GAA star, one of the greatest of his generation, died at the age of 68 from a brain tumour.
His funeral mass took place yesterday at St Vincent de Paul Church on Dublin’s Griffith Avenue, close to his beloved club, St Vincent’s – with underage players forming a guard of honour.
Chief mourners at the funeral were Mr Mullins’ partner Elizabeth, wife Helen, his three sons Bernard, Pádraig and Nathan, his daughter Jackie and his 10 grandchildren.
The President and Taoiseach were represented by their aides de camp.
GAA president Larry McCarthy was present, along with former Republic of Ireland and Manchester United player, Kevin Moran.
Meath manager Seán Boylan was in attendance, alongside RTÉ GAA correspondent Marty Morrissey and former Tipperary hurler and manager, Nicky English.
Also there was former Chicago basketball player, and coach, Jerome Westbrooks; former Galway player Brian Talty; Bobby Doyle, who lined out with Mullins in the 1970s; former Dublin manager and player, Pat O’Neill and Dublin women’s manager Mick Bohan.
Among the current Dublin panel, Ciaran Kilkenny, Jack McCaffrey, James McCarthy, Brian Howard and Niall Scully, while former players Eamonn Fennell and Mossy Quinn were also there.
Mullins’ grandchildren brought forward symbols of his life, including a UCD hat and scarf to represent his 22-year career at the university as director of sports, a bicycle helmet to represent his love of cycling, an Irish book representing his grá for the Irish language, photographs of him with his beloved grandchildren and St Vincent’s and Dublin GAA jerseys.
Chief celebrant UCD chaplain Fr Eamonn Bourke recalled a visit by Mullins with the Sam Maguire cup to his school in Ballymun many years ago, likening it to “a young Brazilian child seeing Pelé for the first time”. “Stand your ground, don’t give up, keep going,” were the words of wisdom he had offered to the children then. It was with that same steely determination that Mullins had battled a brain tumour in recent months, Fr Bourke said.
Bernard Mullins told mourners his father was “brave” and “never shirked a challenge”. With St Vincent’s he had found “his clan, his tribe” and he was “a true clubman” who would do anything for the club. “Whether as a player, coach, selector, fundraiser, organiser, committee member, adult games director, chairman or even watering the pitch with his own car and a hose, he did everything and loved every minute of it too.”
His father’s hugely successful inter-county career, and his return to the pitch after a near-fatal car accident, was only a short chapter of his life.
“Our dad was a warrior, a fighter who never gave up. He never shied away from the fight when it was put up to him. Unfortunately, this is one fight he didn’t win. Not because he didn’t try but, sadly, because this is a fight he couldn’t win.
“That didn’t stop him dealing with his cancer with unbelievable strength, determination and courage despite his diagnosis.
“I’m sure not one of us would want to be held to account for every moment of our lives, but how many of us could say that our best moments were as magnificent as his?”