New Donegal senior football champions St Eunan’s of Letterkenny paid an emotional farewell to a much-loved club member who died at the weekend.
Thirty-one-year-old Elaine Winston Friel sadly lost her battle with cancer on Saturday morning, 24 hours before St Eunan’s defeated Naomh Conaill of Glenties 1-7 to 0-9 to win the Donegal SFC in Ballybofey.
On Sunday night, the club’s players and management made their way to Elaine’s wake and yesterday afternoon they formed a guard of honour at the gates of their O’Donnell Park ground as Elaine made her journey to her final resting place in Conwall cemetery.
Elaine is survived by her mother Mary, father Joe Winston — who played on the first two Donegal teams to win the Ulster championship, in 1972 and 1974 — brothers Kevin and Darren, and husband Francie Friel, whose club side Termon’s intermediate final against Aodh Ruadh of Ballyshannon was postponed on Saturday afternoon as a mark of respect.
“It was a great win for the club, especially on the weekend of the death of Elaine Winston,” St Eunan’s John Haran said after the match.
“We were all up at her removal last night and it was very sad.
“Elaine was from a great GAA family. I received a text from Francie, Elaine’s husband, and her brother Kevin.
“Kevin said if you put in the hard work then Elaine will guide you home and that’s how it worked out. Elaine was probably guiding us in those last few minutes.”
St Eunan’s captain Michéal Martin also played his respects to the Winston and Friel families as he accepted the Dr Maguire Cup.
“It has been a very hard couple of days for us and for people around Letterkenny,” he said.
“It has also been sad within the St Eunan’s club and the Termon club. The Winston family are steeped in St Eunan’s and are very highly respected by everyone and Elaine was a St Eunan’s fan and never missed a game and followed us all over.
“She fought a very brave battle and she is in our thoughts today.”
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