Mayo GAA is in mourning following the sad passing of former county hurler Pierce Higgins, the older brother of legendary dual star Keith.
The Ballyhaunis man, 45, had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2017, but showed typical resolve to tog out in that year’s Mayo senior hurling final against Tooreen.
His home club led the tributes today, saying: “Despite the daunting challenges that he faced, Pierce’s unbending stoicism and radiant positivity have been an inspiration to all and especially to those closest to him. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”
The Mayo county board joined in saluting a “proud Ballyhaunis clubman” and a winner of 14 club county titles who had also represented Mayo “with distinction” over a 14-year career, winning two national hurling league titles and an All-Ireland junior title in 2003.
Mayo GAA went on to say he would be “sadly missed by his heartbroken wife Clare, his children Erin and Ellie, his parents Pete and Kay and his brother Keith, Keith's partner Teresa, nice Ivy Marie, mother-in-law Noreen, father-in-law Peter, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, relatives and his wide circle of friends.”
And after tonight’s FBD League final victory over Roscommon in the Air Dome at Bekan, Mayo veteran Cillian O’Connor took the opportunity to extend deepest sympathies to his former teammate and all the Higgins family.
Younger brother Keith ranks as one of Mayo’s greatest footballers of the modern era and, even after his retirement two years ago, he has continued to hurl for his county. His lengthy football career delivered four All Stars but without that elusive All-Ireland medal.
Last March, Keith and family friend Frank Browne led the ‘Hurling for Hope’ fundraising drive that ultimately raised almost €230,000 for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation. Teammates and friends and helped them to solo a sliotar from the hospice in Castlebar to the hospice in Roscommon, covering a distance of 100km.
Pierce’s remains will repose at Donnellan’s Funeral Home in Ballyhaunis on Sunday evening (3-6pm) with funeral Mass on Monday (11am) in St Patrick’s Church and burial in the local cemetery afterwards.