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Terrace messenger: GAA evangelist Frank dies

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Message: Frank Hogan with his board, referring to the gospel verse: ‘Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” photo: liam burke/press 22

Message: Frank Hogan with his board, referring to the gospel verse: ‘Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” photo: liam burke/press 22

Message: Frank Hogan with his board, referring to the gospel verse: ‘Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” photo: liam burke/press 22

Tributes are pouring in for Ireland's most famous GAA supporter, Frank Hogan, a sports ground evangelist who spread his gospel message from the terraces, gripping his trusted big yellow sign John 3:7.

Mr Hogan, who has died aged 81, was a born again Christian who was the subject of a TG4 television documentary, was perhaps the most photographed GAA supporter.

Hail, rain, or shine, the Tipperary man and his sign were a familiar target of sports photojournalists.

Mr Hogan spread a message of hope and forgiveness, said friend Gerry Nugent.

Some ridiculed him, but most held him in high esteem.

"He would have got terrible abuse at the start because people didn't know what he was, but when people got to know him they saw he was an incredible person and a man of powerful faith," said Mr Nugent.

"People called him 'John' because of the sign. He was an institution.

"He went to All-Ireland Finals with no ticket and never failed to get in."

Mr Hogan and his wife Myrna previously separated, and following this he "had a divine encounter, when his life was changed completely on reading a verse from the 'Bible'".

"When Derry won the All-Ireland back in the 90s, he went up to Derry for the homecoming celebrations and he slept in his car.

"He used to have his dinner in my house and many other houses in Thurles. He was an absolute institution," said Mr Nugent.

"I spoke to the man managing Thurles stadium, David Morgan, and Morgan said he stopped Frank one day and said to him: 'If you have any problem getting into simple stadium you tell them to ring me'."

Although his roots were in Borrisokane, Co Tipperary, he was regarded as a staunch Limerick hurling supporter having moved to Shannonside as a child, and later working as a tailor where he dressed the great and the good.

When he was at GAA matches, whenever a sliothar sailed between the posts, or a net was rattled, Hogan's Bible sign, like a moving statue, stood out from the crowd who came to worship their sporting gods.

Irish Independent