The oration was finished off with a rendition of Lovely Fair Ileigh.
Former Borris-Ileigh hurler Timmy Delaney delivered a poignant graveside tribute to his friend and colleague Liam Devaney, moments after the five times All-Ireland senior hurling medal winner had been returned to the earth of his native parish. He concluded the oration with a rendition of Lovely Fair Ileigh.
The tribute began:
“ We stand here at the final resting place of Billy Devaney with a great sense of lonesomeness at his leaving us. As we say a final farewell, we must look back with great respect and pride, in tribute to the one and only, who was at all times so much one of our own.
“The streets and fields where you are reared, there you will always live and where you die.” And, the truth of those remarkable lines are so much reflected in the life and achievements of Liam Devaney. A Borris' man from his first breath to his last, he loved the place of his birth, its people, its fields and hills, its streets. His memories of old Borris', his personal heritage of hurling greatness from his father Jim, his fondness of old neighbours and friends, forged in him a massive sense of place and a great pride in Borris'.
Former Tipperary captain Richard Stakelum greets friends outside the Church.
“His remarkable achievements and successes with Tipperary during what was arguably Tipperary's golden age of the sixties, are widely documented on the national stage. His display in the '61 All-Ireland Final when he moved from wing forward back to centre back will never be forgotten. How we all loved as young fellas calling into the house to see the Caltex Award and were always made welcome with jelly and ice cream by his mother Josie. I remember now as we stand together and I look back on those simpler and less sophisticated days of the Borris' of nearly sixty years ago, and a reception was given to honour Devaneys achievements of '61 – a ceili was held in what locals remember as our old courthouse. And, there's a lovely picture in our lovely parish book of faces and places recalling that occasion. Some of you might remember these lines:
'It's a long time now since Devaney's ceili,
When we trouned the floor and trouned the door,
With tune and dancing with talk and laughter,
To honour our hero Liam a stor.
The neighbour who set All-Ireland cheering,
In old Croke Park with his brilliance he,
The quiet lad who walks amongst us,
In the little streets of Borrisoleigh.'
“So while the more visible Tipperary record of Liam Devaney's achievements are so publicly remarkable, I would like here today to reflect more so, with respect, on what he meant to Borris' and what he did for our club. His loyalty to the place of his upbringing, to the honour and glory of this little village stands out above all else. He never was a medal hunter despite ample opportunity at the height of his powers. He wanted to do the heavy lifting for Borris' eventhough he was very often supported more by token than by talent, during a lean enough period, an experience that most clubs understand. And he knew this, and could see the humour in all of this, as we who knew him, knew well.
Francis Loughnane, Tom Ryan and Matt Hassett were in attendance.
“To stay with Borris through thick and thin, even when logic and logistics suggested otherwise, was what endeared him so much here. Even over and above his phenomenal hurling talents, his loyalty and his sense of place stood out and will always be remembered in Borris'.
“Devaney had two homes in Borris – one across from the other. He lived at home with Jim and Josie where Seamus and Tracey live now, and he also lived in the park. And what he could do with a hurley and ball was unbelievable. On the ground or in the air, left and right, he could score from any angle, with back to the goals, over either shoulder - there was only one Devaney.
“A minor in '53 and he won his only county final with Borris than year. His final appearance was in the maroon and white twenty years later in '73 when he came in as a sub in the last ten minutes and he took the paint off the outside of the post in Thurles with a rasper to nearly swing a county quarter final against our neighbours down the road Drom-Inch. So his greatness for Borris' after that day would never be measured by the medals he won for the club, but rather by far greater standards.
“In his heyday after the 40's the 50's and before the 70's, he was with Borris' when the teams were not as nearly to the fore and year after year he battled almost single handedly for Borris' against overwhelming odds.
“Now married and living in Thurles, he still resisted every approach to join forces with the Sarsfields who were the power houses of the period.
“Then he saw hope for Borris' when we won a county u-21 final in 1970 and then we competed in the '72 senior county final against Roscrea. And right up along then to '86 and '87 Devaney was on the Borris' sideline up to the time when the club wrote hurling history in winning the All-Ireland club final.
“He gave his life and his unrivalled hurling talents and his coaching skill and advice to Borris' first and last. And, here today, I want to thank him for that. On behalf of our club, I want to celebrate his greatness. I want to salute his contribution and mourn his loss to us with respect and dignity.
“The cheers for Devaney will long re-echo in all our ears and in the years ahead when Borris' grace the field in his beloved maroon and white, from what I see, the shouts of ' a boy Devaney' will often be heard again.
“You are welcome back Billy today among your own people and we place you with your beloved friends with the plain and decent lovely people of our friendly, happy, homely parish, among the great characters and wits of Borris' alongside some of the greatest hurling heroes ever seen in any parish in Ireland. But, above all else, alongside your mother and father Jim and Josie.
“May the green sod of his native Borris' enfold him warmly and rest lightly on his mortal remains.
“May his spirit soar in that great celestial hall of fame where all the old hurlers of Borris' and Tipperary will warmly greet him home.”