IN their moment of glory, as they accepted the silverware on the greatest day to date in their young sporting lives, the Killarney Celtic players that clinched the FAI Youths Cup in dramatic fashion at the weekend paused, reflected and remembered a former team-mate who, sadly, was not there with them.
Niall McGillycuddy was an outstanding young Killarney sportsman who excelled at soccer, GAA, basketball and any discipline he turned his hand to and he was destined for great things on the field of play before his life was cut tragically short through illness, at just 16 years of age, in October 2018.
Such was his sporting prowess, the St Brendan’s College student was destined to wear the green and gold of Kerry at every level and he was one of the standout underage players with his club Killarney Legion, with his school and in county development squads.
Niall was also an exceptionally gifted soccer player and he would undoubtedly have been part of the stylish Celtic team that created history when beating Cork side Douglas Hall in Sunday’s glamour final.
As a poignant mark of respect and in tribute to their former team-mate, the Celtic players lined out on Sunday without a number 6 jersey as that was the shirt he usually wore during his action-packed playing days.
When he went up to collect the cup, however, captain Celtic Evan Looney had the number 6 jersey draped over his shoulder as a moving tribute to his pal.
Players also held up number 6 jerseys during the celebration photographs to ensure Niall’s memory lives on in the sporting history books as well as in their hearts.
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