THE SOCCER family is reeling following the untimely death of one of its' brightest lights, John Sherlock of the Roscommon League.
Yesterday's funeral in St Peter and Paul Church in Athlone was packed to capacity as family, friends, neighbours and leading football figures gathered to mourn the loss of Sherlock, who died on Sunday morning when he crashed into a wall in a single vehicle incident close to his home on the N6 Athlone to Roscommon road.
John (54) was one of the FAI's brightest lights was recently appointed vice-president of the FAI Junior Council -- which would have seen him assume the mantle of Presidency in two year's time, when the rank is to celebrate its centenary.
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney said he was "devastated" by the news of John Sherlock's passing.
Delaney also promised to that the FAI would honour John's memory in a fitting and appropriate way in the coming months.
John was a vastly popular figure within Irish soccer, but under his massive frame lay the personality of a gentle giant. He valued loyalty and returned it in folds to those who supported him and the ideals of the game's grassroots.
He stood out with his imposing presence and he often joked that he developed a sense of humour because he could never hide in a crowd and he needed to be able to say something for himself.
John's elevation to the vice-president's office was recognition for the selfless work of over 30 years to the game. He had attended the FAI AGM in Wexford last weekend and was in transit home when the tragic accident occurred
His greatest legacy is the development of the Roscommon League complex at Lecarrow, ironically close to where he died on Sunday. The facility is due to open in the coming months and it will now be a very poignant occasion.
Said Eugene Deering, chairman of the Roscommon Branch of the Irish Soccer Referee's Society: "It was his field of dreams and he worked tirelessly to bring that project to fruition."
One of his first trips away with the Republic of Ireland Juniors had been to Sardinia two years ago. There John showed why he was thought of so highly within the ranks of the FAI, as his easygoing manner and mischievous nature made for compelling company.
He breezed effortlessly in an out of company and made friends wherever he went, delighted that the juniors were being recognised with such high-calibre fixtures on a regular basis.
There he spoke easily about the pride he had in his family and seeing his daughter and sons mature and grow up.
President of the FAI Paddy McCaul along with former presidents David Blood and Michael Hyland, FAI Technical Director Packie Bonner, FAI Junior Council President Paddy McGrath and FAI Junior Council Secretary Dennis Cruise were among the mourners at the service.
He is survived by his wife Teresa, daughters Jennifer, sons Adrian and James, brothers Pat, Tommy, Jimmy, Peter and sisters Breda and Rosemary.
John Sherlock was a giant of a man but he had a big heart to go with it. He will be missed by all who knew him.
May he rest in peace.