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30 Nov 2021

Warm tributes paid to an Offaly sporting and community legend

Frank McEvoy

The late Frank McEvoy

WARM tributes have been paid to the late Frank McEvoy, Killeigh and Mucklagh, who was laid to rest last week.

The following is the text of an eulogy written and read by Conor Staunton at Frank McEvoy's Funeral Mass in Killeigh on Thursday last.

"On behalf of the McEvoy family, Frank's wife Brigie, his daughters Sylvia, Claire and Kate, sons in law Padraig, Rob and Chris, his grandchildren Shane, Conor, Sina, Taylor, Cathy and Zoe and his brothers and sisters, they would like to express their sincere gratitude for the outpouring of love and support everyone far and wide has shown to them since Franks passing. They particulary want to thank all their wonderful neighbours in Hillview for their unwavering support.

"On speaking with people over the last few days and reading the hundreds of posts of condolences, numerous words were used to describe Frank. My friend, my mentor, legend to name but a few. The one word that was used by all however was gentleman. Frank was a true gentleman. Frank's loss has been felt not just by his family and local community but far and wide such is the impact he has had on so many people.

Frank was born and reared in Mucklagh. A keen sportsman he played both football and hurling for St Carthage's and Mucklagh and was intermediate football captain in 1979. He also played soccer for Mucklagh for many years.

"First and foremost Frank was a family man. He was their rock. Frank met his beloved wife Brigie in Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan while on duty with the army. They were married and eventually settled in Hillview, Killeigh just over 40 years ago.

"He adored his three daughters, Sylvia, Claire and Kate. His face would glow whenever he spoke about them or when he was with them. I often stood back in admiration of the bond he had with them and how they looked up to him.

"He adored all of his grandkids and doted on every one of them. They brought so much joy to him and Brigie. He loved looking after them and always spoke with glowing pride about them. I remember ringing Frank one morning and him telling me that the twins had stayed the night. He went on to tell me how he had been up at 5am to give them their feed before he corrected himself and said ‘well actually Brigie was up at 5am. And a big laugh out of him.

"The joy of the grandkids starting to play with the soccer club and the opportunity it gave him to coach them be it at u13, u8, or the cubs. Being coached by another coach wasn’t an option. They had to be coached by grandad.

"Frank was a perfectionist. If there was a job to be done it had to be done right no matter what the job was. He was a keen gardener and took great pride in his garden and in particular is hanging baskets.

"I remember asking him about them and how he got them to look so well. He went on to tell me that he had come outside one day and saw a woman taking pictures of the house. She came over to him and apologised but said she was passing and just had to take a picture of the hanging baskets as they were so beautiful. He turned to me and said ‘That’s mad, isn’t it’ and he laughed. I could tell though that he was as proud as punch.

"Frank loved the bog. He would actually get excited about going out to St O'Hara's bog to do the turf. He would often subject poor Brigie to numerous trips out there, just to have a look! His son in laws didn’t quite share the love for the bog but as is Frank's way they would always end up out there helping anyway.

"Frank enjoyed the simple things in life. He loved a pint of Smithwicks and if things were going well a jemmy and a singsong. Most of all he loved the crack. He was a messer and loved to have the banter and was usually always the instigator. He of course loved Man Utd and I got great mileage slagging him about Liverpool's win over them. All taken in great spirits. If you weren’t slagging him he would nearly be asking you why.

"He loved to take off for a few days with Brigie be it to different parts of the country or their regular trips back up to Ballyconnell to Brigie's homeplace. As is the man, Frank had formed great friendships up in Ballyconnell and he loved going up there.

"Frank served in the army for years. We know that he definitely used his peacekeeping skills long after he left. He also worked for HB in Tullamore. All the kids in Hillview benefited greatly from that job with his endless supply of icecream. Older members of the club have recounted how he would give a box a magnums if they scored in a match on a Saturday.

"Frank's true calling though came as a bar man. He worked in various bars in both Athlone and Tullamore before more recently working in Fergie's bar. He was loved by both staff and customers alike. He always had a smile and had a word for everyone. Indeed Fergie's often became a bit of a recruitment ground for Frank and he was known to have got numerous people involved with the soccer club during nights out. Frank never missed an opportunity!

"Frank was a massive part of the community in Killeigh. From the school where he served for a time on the board of manangement to the GAA with St Sinchill's camogie or with Killeigh/Clodiagh Gaels GAA.

"He was an active supporter of all community projects and was always there to help out in whatever way he could.

"To be out around Killeigh in Frank's company was like becoming the invisible man. Everyone you would meet ‘well Frank, well Frank’ is all you would here from anyone.

"For nearly the past 30 years there has been one constant in Franks life and that is his second family, Killeigh schoolboys/girls soccer club. Frank was one of our founding members and honorary President. The truth though is that he was much much more than that. Frank McEvoy was Killeigh Soccer Club. Every person that played for Killeigh would have been coached by Frank at some stage or another. His positive influence and gentle way had a lasting impact on all who played or were involved in the club. People will remember Frank from the pond on a Saturday. His purposeful walk and beaming smile as he checked on how all teams were doing that morning. Saying hello to everyone by name. There have been hundreds of messages and stories from people and their tales of how Frank positively influenced them. To Frank it was and is all about the kids. To him it was about making sure kids were having fun and enjoying themselves. If they were not doing that then there was no point. It was about getting them down to the field. It didn’t matter whether they were looking up at aeroplanes in the sky or digging for worms as long as they were having fun. He loved being around the kids and seeing the joy on their faces, particularly the younger kids. Many photos have been posted in recent days of Frank surrounded by a crowd of children all looking at him and hanging on every word he said. In every one he is smiling from ear to ear.

"The clubs ethos is that everyone plays. Regardless of ability. The truth is probably that this was Frank's ethos. While he was competitive and liked to win he never lost sight of this and wasn’t afraid to remind others of their responsibilities, including me. He knew that kids ultimately will not remember whether the score was one all or two nil but a child will always remember if they got a game or not.

"At the end of last season, Frank said to me that he was thinking of just concentrating on the cubs next season. I looked at him, I laughed and told him to cop on to himself. This season he was coaching u13, u8 and the cubs!!

"Frank was always recruiting. Always looking out for who the next coaches or club officials would be. Usually they were people who he had coached himself and now they were bringing their kids. He would cajole and charm people into getting involved. You might not have wanted to but such was his way he couldn’t be refused and people felt good about helping him out. You simply couldn’t say no to Frank. You could hide from him for a while but he always caught up with you eventually. You could start out lifting up cones or carrying bags but before long you would be put in charge of the whats app group and taking the trainings. Frank would be gone on to the next project and you would be left scratching your head wondering how it happened.

"He would often invite people to attend meetings in the pond just to show them how things worked. So many, including myself subsequently left the meeting after being appointed in to some sort of role with the club. Again you were left scratching your head wondering how he was after doing it. But you never said anything. You just got on with it. Happy that Frank had put his trust in you.

"Outside of his coaching and official roles Frank was the driving force behind the club's development. We all have dreams but often hope that others will fulfil the dream. Frank was a dreamer with a difference, he led from the front to make his dreams happen and that is what we are seeing in our wonderful new facility in Derrybeg. Frank would not ask anyone to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself. Be it fundraising, cutting grass, marking pitches or tidying the sheds. Frank was a doer. A leader. While the rest of us were still talking about what we were going to do, Frank had already started on the task in hand. You would always see his car up in the Pond or most recently in Derrybeg doing the jobs that needed to be done. Its fair to say that if Frank had his way, Derrybeg would probably be a 20,000 all seater stadium by now. Sometimes you had to pull the handbrake on him.

"Frank differed with people along the way but always sought consensus. He never claimed a monopoly of knowledge on anything and was always happy to take on board the ideas of others and infuse them with his own.

"As a club we owe it to Frank to finish what he started. To make the club grow from strength to strength and build a lasting legacy in his memory.

"There are so many stories about Frank that we have to tell. Inspirational storys, funny storys. We owe it to Frank's family to continue to tell those storys. To laugh, to cry but most of all to remember. To remember him in everything that we do. He will never be forgotten. ‘Put the listening ears on Frank’, we are going to be talking about you. a lot.

"Husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend, coach, mentor, gentleman, legend. Mr Killeigh FC. We love you. Rest in peace. You will never ever be forgotten.”

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