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GAA club forms guard of honour for broadcaster Davis

Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent v.robinson@irishnews.com

MEMBERS of Glasdrumman GAA club gave a final and fitting tribute at the funeral of veteran broadcaster Derek Davis yesterday.

Players and officials from the south Down club formed a guard of honour for his coffin at the Mount Jerome Crematorium in Dublin.

The men wore their club jackets in honour of their 67-year-old friend who passed away last Wednesday at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.

Senior club official John Brennan later described the funeral, which was addressed by the TV and radio star's three adult sons, Michael, Colm and Sean, as "deeply moving" and "beautiful".

Mr Davis, who was born in Holywood, Co Down and grew up in Bangor, forged lasting links with Glasdrumman after he led a team of young players to victory in the RTÉ show Celebrity Bainisteoir in 2009.

The presenter, whose broadcasting career spanned five decades, travelled from his south Dublin home to watch his last Glasdrumman match less than a fortnight before his death following a stroke.

Mourners at the Victorian Chapel at Mount Jerome were led by Mr Davis's wife, Una, who was supported by the couple's sons and daughter-in-law Gina.

Michael Davis praised his father as a teacher and friend, adding: "Reflecting on Dad's life, and in particular his last six months, I don't think that he would say that he left anything undone or had any regrets of a life unlived.

"All I could say is that I could not have asked for a greater father, a better teacher or a more reliable friend, and I could not be prouder to be his son."

His brother Colm remembered their father's wit and generosity, while youngest son Sean told the congregation that the Co Down native, who attended both Garron Tower grammar school near Carnlough and St Malachy's College in Belfast, had maintained a strong moral compass throughout his life.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his Aide de Camp Lieutenant Commander Patricia Butler while Commandant Kieran Carey attended on behalf of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Well-known RTÉ figures present included veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne as well as former newsreader Anne Doyle, ex-reporter Charlie Bird and sports journalist Des Cahill.

Fermanagh priest Fr Brian D'Arcy, as well as presenter Tom McGurk, who had known Mr Davis for 49 years and was his housemate at Queen's University Belfast, were both present.

Thelma Mansfield, who presented Live At Three alongside Mr Davis for more than a decade, was among those who consoled his widow.

Ms Mansfield, who had also visited the Davis home in Killiney on Sunday evening, described the fishing and sailing enthusiast as "an extraordinary character" and "one of the most professional men you could ever work with".

* FUNERAL: Main, Derek Davis's coffin being brought into the Victorian Chapel at Mount Jerome in Dublin yesterday. Above left, Davis's former television co-host Thelma Mansfield comforts his widow Una. Left, veteran RTE broadcaster Gay Byrne at the funeral

PICTURE TOP LEFT: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

* CELEBRITY BAINISTEOIR: Derek Davis and his Glasdrumman team celebrate winning the Celebrity Bainisteoir title in 2009

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