Inspirational Tipperary sports star Rachel Kenneally is laid to rest

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Rachel Kenneally

Former Tipperary ladies football player Rachel Kenneally was laid to rest on Thursday in St Michael’s Cemetery, Tipperary

St Michael’s Church in Tipperary town was packed to capacity this morning at the funeral for inspirational young teacher and former Tipperary GAA football star Rachel Kenneally who sadly passed away at the age of 26 on Monday night.

The Ballyglass native was laid to rest in St Michael’s Cemetery Tipperary town earlier today, her coffin draped in the Green and Gold of Aherlow along with the Blue and Gold of Tipperary.

Her sister Laura gave a heartfelt eulogy on Rachel's short, but full life, describing the talented sports star as a very "caring and passionate" person who always helped everyone else.

Mourners heard about Rachael's passion for travel, which she carried through to her profession having taught in Dubai, where she went on to play Gaelic football with the local club.

Thousands of people had congregated at her residence in Ballyglass on Wednesday evening with many queuing for several hours. Outside her home four flags flew which represented her life – Aherlow, Tipperary and Dubai GAA, along with the sky blue of her beloved Kilfeacle RFC.

Her sister thanked all at Kylecourt Clinic in Tipperary town, the staff at Cork University Hospital and the hospice staff for the care and attention they showed to Rachel during her illness.

Rachel Kenneally played ladies football in the blue and gold of Tipperary from 2009 to 2014 and featured on the Premier County team which reached the 2013 All-Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Championship final.

Rachel played with Aherlow and starred on the Tipperary minor teams which won Munster B championships in 2009 and 2010. The primary school teacher also helped to propel Aherlow to the 2011 All-Ireland junior club final.

Pic: The late Rachel Kenneally

Ms Kenneally attended St Anne's Secondary School in Tipperary Town and graduated from Mary Immaculate College in 2013 with a degree in primary school teaching. Rachel, of course, also featured on the Mary I league and championship winning squad of 2011-2012.

On Tuesday night Tipperary ladies football manager Shane Ronayne paid a heart-felt tribute to Rachel: "On behalf of everybody involved with the Tipperary senior squad, I would like to express our sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Rachel Kenneally, our former player, team-mate and friend. We are all proud to have had the opportunity to coach and play with Rachel, and very privileged to have known her as a person. She was a fantastic player and a wonderful character, full of life, humour and great courage. She will be sorely missed but forever remembered”.

Pic: Rachel Kenneally in action

As a mark of respect to the Kenneally family, all games in the county were cancelled for Wednesday and Thursday by Tipperary Ladies Football Board.

Meanwhile Ladies Gaelic Football Association President Marie Hickey also expressed her sympathies to the family of Rachel Kenneally: “All of us at the Ladies Gaelic Football Association are deeply saddened to learn of Rachel’s untimely passing. Rachel was a wonderful servant to Tipperary ladies football and her club, Aherlow. A committed and talented player, Rachel wore the blue and gold of her county and the green and gold of her beloved Aherlow with distinction for many years. Rachel marked herself out as a brilliant underage player before going on to represent Tipperary at the highest level, appearing on All-Ireland final day in 2013. We extend our deepest sympathies to Rachel’s family and friends at this very sad time”.

Rachel Kenneally is sadly missed by her loving parents Denis and Mary, sisters Laura and Louise, grandmother Alice, uncles, aunts, relatives, neighbours and friends.

A Mass for Rachel will take place on Easter Sunday in St Michael’s Church, Tipperary at 12.30pm. Family flowers only, donations if desired to Cancer Research.