herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Crowds reflect powerful influence Jim had...on both sides of the world

TODAY the city famous for hosting the horse race that stops a nation, stood still for a very different reason.

Although the state funeral of Dubliner Jim Stynes had a very sporting theme, the collection of mourners who gathered to pay tribute, both inside St Paul's Cathedral and across the road at Federation Square, demonstrated his influence far outside the football community.

Irish mourners wearing their county colours mingled with locals donning the colours of the former club president's beloved Melbourne Demons and intermingled among those young people whose lives had been touched in some way through the former Dublin minor star's charity work with his Reach foundation.

Thousands watched the big screens showing live coverage and listened intently to tributes from those closest to him.

There were tears when Jim's brother Brian spoke of his older sibling's early days in Dublin where they grew up in a house with a hallway full of bicycles, coats and hurley sticks.

The All-Ireland winner spoke of the family's upset when Jim, as an 18 year old, decided to move to the other side of the world.

Brian said that all his own sporting triumphs had been sweeter due to the presence of Jim, from his All-Ireland win with Dublin, which his brother flew home to watch as a surprise, to donning the senior jersey with Melbourne when they played together.

Mourners shed tears again when Jim's wife Sam spoke, saying that she was doing so on the request of her late husband.

Then there was laughter in the cathedral as Stynes' former team mate Garry Lyon spoke about their time coaching Australia together in the International Rules series.

Lyon reminisced about the time when the walkie-talkie system at the stadium had allowed them to intercept the Irish coaching staff's conversations for the first 15 minutes of the game, and they had trumped every switch the Irish had made during that time.

After all the tears and laughter, the service finished with spontaneous applause. As the coffin emerged from the cathedral flanked by friends and family, Sam Stynes waved to the thousands at Federation square and mouthed the words 'thank you'.

hnews@herald.ie

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