ONE of the giants of Wexford soccer, Pat Whitty, was laid to rest on Valentine's Day in Cushinstown, drawing a crowd of mourners which included FAI chief John Delaney and his good friend Deputy Mick Wallace.
Late of Old Ross, Pat was a long-standing member of the FAI Senior Council and was vice chairman of the GAA Leinster Football Association and league administrator of the Wexford Football League. He was a member of the FAI Finance Committee at the time of his death on Thursday evening.
Sports mad all his life, Pat attended Raheen NS, before going on to Good Counsel College.
He played soccer with several teams including Old Ross, Crystal Palace, (the local club), Adamstown, Park Hotspur, and finished his playing days with Corabh Ramblers.
He also played football with Cushinstown.
Pat worked at CPM in Wexford before going on to work with Mick Wallace in building. The two men found a common ground in their love of football and Italy. They attended Italia '90 and from then on never missed a championships, attending world cups, European championships, while Pat attended 22 Champions League finals with friends including Eddie and Tom Carroll, Ciaran Brennan, Joe Chapman, Noel Kehoe, Sean Parker and Mick Wallace.
Pat met Suzanne Conroy in Adamstown Dance Hall and they were married in 1978 in Kilrane. The happy couple had six children, Alan, Jason, Dylan, Kay, Padraig and John.
Pat loved to be busy and between his various roles, his job, attending matches and his family life he was a very happy man. He enjoyed working with wood, drinking the occasional glass of wine, travel, food and music.
His son Jason said: 'He never missed an Ireland match at Lansdowne Road. He also loved watching Juventus and Arsenal. He would go off to a championship, like in Poland, and be there with his friends for a few weeks. He would go to as many Wexford league games as he could and he loved watching us play for Raheen, although on one occasion when he brought our Alsatian, the dog got free and went straight up the field, parting it like the Red Sea. The dog got the ball and burst it.'
Jason added: 'He was away a lot but he always found time for his family.'
Having gotten involved in the Wexford Football League in 1977, Pat climbed the ranks of Irish football, but never lost touch with grassroots level. This was something which Mr Delaney acknowledged in a tribute to Pat when he said: 'It was with great sadness that I learned of Pat's passing. He was a great grassroots football man and one of the main reasons that football in Wexford has become so strong. I knew him a long time and was in touch with him to wish him well. Pat was integral to ensuring Ferrycarrig stadium was retained in football when the process was concluded last month and it would not have happened without him. We will pay tribute to him at the Switzerland game. He was one of the top people in grassroots football and will be sorely missed.'
Leinster FA President Barney Blood also paid tribute to Pat saying he did tremendous work for the game for many years.
In around 2010 Pat discovered he had a half brother, Ger, whom he met in New York and he was delighted to meet up with him.
A man of deep beliefs, Pat ran for the local elections in the 2014 local elections as an independent. Mick Wallace, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and Claire Daly were in attendance at his campaign launch at the Horse & Hound hotel, Ballinaboola. He ran on a platform of equality, fairness and accountability.
Sadly Pat fell ill in Autumn 2014.
He fought his illness bravely and his passing came as a shock to his family.
A massive crowd attended Pat's funeral mass at Cushinstown church and his burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery. There were guards of honour from Wexford Football League, referees and Cushinstown GAA Club. Tributes were paid to Pat at the mass.
He is survived by Suzanne; Alan, Jason, Dylan, Kay, Padraig and John; granddaughter Ellie; siblings: James, Alan, Martin, Davy, Elizabeth and Majella; nephews; nieces; extended family and friends.
May he rest in peace.