West Kerry community bids farewell to young GAA star

THE tiny villages of Camp and Annascaul in Kerry ground to a halt over the weekend as parishioners paid their last respects to a young sporting hero who died suddenly.

Brendan “Bawnie” O’Driscoll, died at the age of 28 after collapsing while playing for Annascaul in a West Kerry Championship quarter-final against neighbours Lispole, the previous Sunday.

In one of the biggest funerals ever seen in West Kerry,

Brendan O’Driscoll’s body was taken from the family home in Camp just after noon on Saturday and made the short but lonely journey westwards to Annascaul, along a roadway bedecked with the blue and white flags of the local team.

The cortege stopped at the Paddy Kennedy Memorial Park where the coffin was shouldered into the grounds where Brendan O’Driscoll had displayed his incredible talents, winning so many games for his club down the years.

But on Sunday last, having scored 1-1 of his team’s 1-4, “Bawnie” as everyone knew him as, collapsed 10 minutes into the second half, and never regained consciousness.

He suffered a brain aneurysm, and despite the best efforts of medical staff at both Kerry General Hospital and at Cork University Hospital, he lost his battle for life on Wednesday afternoon.

The remains were flanked all the way to the tiny Sacred Heart Church by team-mates from the Annascaul and Camp United soccer clubs who were dressed in their club jerseys.

More than 1,000 mourners stood in the rain, with another 300 packed into the small church, as Fr Buckley, who concelebrated the Mass along with Fr Sheehy and Fr Corley, spoke about a “devastated community, a community who were struggling to understand why such a young, vibrant and talented sportsman, could be taken by God at such a young age and without warning”.

Football boots, a hard hat representing his skills in carpentry and a DVD were among the gifts presented during the Mass.

Former Kerry star Tommy Doyle, holder of seven All-Ireland medals, Bawnie’s uncle and godfather, paid a moving tribute to his late nephew.

He read a poem written by Brendan’s first cousin Sean Fox Farrell that had mourners and team-mates in tears as they listened.

“Since he was an old enough to kick a ball, Bawnie wanted to do nothing else,” Mr Doyle said.

“Bawnie died at what he liked doing best and that was playing sport, but he has left a void that will be impossible to fill.”

Brendan Bawnie O’Driscoll is survived by his parents Vincent and Mary, brothers, Jamie, Vincent, Chris, Micheal and sister Aishling.

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