Liam Devaney: Tipp hurling legend returns home to be laid to rest

Noel Dundon

Reporter:

Noel Dundon

Email:

nd@tipperarystar.ie

Liam Devaney

Liam Devaney (left) enters the cauldron for The Premier County during his heyday.

Former team mates and opponents from across the hurling world descended on the famed village of Borrisoleigh, which has given Tipperary four All-Ireland winning senior hurling captains, to pay tribute to the late Liam Devaney. 

"All the men who played with him were winners to him, and to me, he was a winner too." - 

The emotional tribute from Seamus Devaney, son of Tipperary hurling legend Liam, or Billy as he was better known to most, captured the essence of the five times All-Ireland senior hurling medal winner who was laid to rest in his native Borrisoleigh this morning folloing Requiem Mass in the Church of the Sacred Heart.

Hundreds attended the funeral Mass celebrated by Father Dennis Kennedy, while concelebrants included Fr Phil Barry, a colleague of Liams from the All-Ireland minor winning sides of 1952 and 1953, and Fr Vincent Stapleton, a current player with Borris-Ileigh.

Mourners heard of the exploits of Liam Devaney the hurler, but also of the life of Liam Devaney the husband, father and grandfather, the worker who adored his job of selling lime to farmers.

And, there amongst the attendance were many of his past colleagues including Babs Keating, Theo English, Tony Wall, Mackey McKenna, Matt Hassett, Joe Tynan, Francis Loughnane, Peter O'Sullivan, John O'Donoghue, Tom Ryan, Len Gaynor, Mickey Lonergan, Seamus Mackey, Larry Kiely and Mick Minogue to mention just a few.

Borris-Ileigh stars of the past with Tipperary  were there in force too including Bobby and Aidan Ryan, Gerry Stapleton, Paddy Stapleton, Richard Stakelum, Noel O'Dwyer, Matt Stapleton and current player Brendan Maher.

Fr Kennedy spoke of Billy Devaneys humility and his sense of fair play. He had expressed a wish that other counties around the country  could win the All-Ireland to experience the whole atmosphere and how he would gladly have shared his medals to allow this to happen - he didn't play to win medals or fame, he played to enjoy the game.

Both his son Seamus and daughter Siobhan, spoke of Liam's love of his home in Thurles and especially Borrisoleigh. He had enjoyed life, was a larger than life character, and had ' a good innings' as he said himself.

It was a poignant scene to witness his club and county comrades walking side by side as Liam Devaney was conveyed to his final resting place in the nearby cemetery, where club stalwart Timmy Delaney delivered a tremendous graveside oration before singing Lovely Fair Ileigh.

The Gods wept in the form of Heaven rainshowers as Devaney was returned home to his Maker. But those in attendance didn't mind. This was their final goodbye to a great Borris' man. A great Tipperary man. And, a great family man.

See this weeks Tipperary Star for more extensive coverage.