herald

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Hundreds turn out to pay their final respects to hero Anton 'a legend through and through'

Templeogue Synge Street jersey and the Dublin Number 10 jersey are placed on the coffin of Anton O'Toole
Templeogue Synge Street jersey and the Dublin Number 10 jersey are placed on the coffin of Anton O'Toole

The Sam Maguire stood proudly on the altar of Mount Argus Church in Dublin as a touching tribute to Dubs legend Anton O'Toole.

The man known as the 'Blue Panther' was given a final send off by some of the capital's most celebrated GAA stars past and present.

Hundreds of mourners turned out to say their final goodbyes to the star yesterday.

Former team-mates of the All-Star player, who were described as a "great comfort" to Anton before he died, helped to carry his coffin to the church.

Applause

Members of the current senior team and Synge Street GAA were also given the honour to carry it and were met with resounding applause from the congregation.

Personal possessions that reflected the deep loves of the 68-year-old's life were laid out before the altar.

These included his binoculars, which symbolised his love of horse racing, his cherished hat and an Amy Winehouse CD that signified his love of music.

The Boys in Blue even took the Sam Maguire to the service after Anton had helped to secure it for Dublin four times, in 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1983.

Parish priest Fr Joe Kennedy described the 'Blue Panther' as a "legend, through and through".

"He was an extraordinary man who had done the entire city of Dublin proud on many occasions," he said.

Members of the current Dublin Senior football team at the funeral mass of Anton O'Toole
Members of the current Dublin Senior football team at the funeral mass of Anton O'Toole

"People have come up from all over the country to be here, including his old team-mates, and I'm sure his family greatly appreciate their efforts."

Anton's sister Nuala Leacy told the congregation she was amazed at the level of support her brother received during his illness.

"He had so many groups of friends from the GAA, horse racing and golf," she said.

"They all came to visit him when he was sick and stayed by his side until the very end.

"He was an amazing person who deserves all the admiration shown to him.

"Anton fought his illness with great strength and bravery, and I'm so proud to have had him as a brother."

Bobby Doyle, Kevin Moran and Paddy Cullen shoulder the remains of Anton O'Toole
Bobby Doyle, Kevin Moran and Paddy Cullen shoulder the remains of Anton O'Toole

Before the service ended, musician Mary Black, a close friend of Anton's, sang Raglan Road, alongside his former team-mates.

Among the notable figures in attendance were Dublin Lord Mayor Nial Ring and Commandant Caroline Burke, aide de camp to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern was also on hand to offer his support to Anton's family.

"I remember fondly following his career in the 70s and 80s," he told the Herald. "I'm delighted I could be here to offer my condolences to his family."

Decorated

Anton won four All-Ireland SFC medals in a decorated career that coincided with the remarkable transformation of Gaelic football in the capital.

He had first broken into the senior set-up in 1972 at a time when Dublin football, and supporter interest, was at a low ebb.

He played on a Dublin U-21 team managed by the late Eugene McGee.

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