Tributes paid to late Ireland and Celtic supporter Brian O’Reilly

Tributes have been paid to the late Brian O’Reilly, a well-known fanatical supporter of both the Irish national side and The Celtic Football Club, who sadly passed away on Christmas Day, after a battle with cancer.

Brian, or ‘Reilly’ as he was affectionately known by his fellow football fans, was laid to rest following Requiem Mass at St. Patrick’s Chapel in Pennyburn on Tuesday.

Members of both the local Republic of Ireland Supporters’ Club and the Derry-based Paul McStay Celtic Supporters’ Club formed a guard of honour in a poignant tribute for their former member as he was taken to the City Cemetery following his Funeral Mass on Tuesday.

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Offering their condolences to Brian’s family the committee and members of the Derry Branch of the Republic of Ireland Supporters’ Club paid tribute to a much-loved friend who had been a stalwart member over many years.

The late Brian O'Reilly who passed away on Christmas Day.

“Brian was well and truly one of a kind, a long-standing club member and season ticket holder.

“For many years he was the life and soul of the party from stepping onto the club coach in Derry to the early hours in the club hotel in Dublin, and on many occasions entertaining the flight crews on the planes for the away games,” the club committee stated.

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During his time with the club the larger-than-life football fanatic travelled all over the world supporting his beloved Republic of Ireland.

Brian O'Reilly was a long-standing member of the Derry-based Paul McStay Celtic Supporters’ Club

“A life-long Irishman and proud supporter of the ‘Boys in Green’ Brian travelled the world supporting his fellow countrymen.

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“Brian will be sadly missed by many people up and down the country. He made friends on away trips, home and away, and the amount of messages we have received from supporters’ clubs all over the world just tells you how well thought of Brain was.

"He is sadly missed and will never be forgotten. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam,” his fellow fans stated.

Members of the Paul McStay Celtic Supporters’ Club, which is based at Peadar O’Donnell’s in Waterloo Street, also paid tribute to a friend who they had Christened ‘wing commander’ on account of the role he played on the club’s away trips.

The late Brian O'Reilly
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The Brandywell-native was, they said, ‘one of our own, a member with the biggest personality, laugh and heart to match’.

"Brian was a character known to many far and wide within many social circles as attested to in the many tributes paid to his memory from all arts and parts of the country from supporters’ clubs and individuals alike.

"He was a simple down to earth man with no airs nor graces who could stand in any company with ease and never be out of place.

“To meet this man was a pleasure, someone you took to your heart in an instant because of his warm, forthright and honest demeanour and the heartiest laugh you could ever wish to hear,” the committee said.

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The club recalled how Brian had been embraced after meeting members during a Celtic match in the popular city centre bar where they are based.

"We as club members met Brian many years ago when he came into our company in Peadar O'Donnells to watch the Celtic games and in no time at all he was one of ‘the Bhoys’ and because of the man he was ‘Reilly’ was inducted into the Paul McStay CSC as a honorary lifetime member,” the committee members said in a statement of tribute.

His former friends and club members observed that what Brian ‘didn't know about football wasn't worth knowing and whether it was watching on TV in Peadar’s or standing on the slopes of the famous Celtic Park you were sure to get a running commentary from the man himself’.

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He was, the club said, nicknamed ‘5 live’ due to his soccer knowledge and his tendency to provide a running commentary of whatever game he was watching, invariably Celtic or Ireland.

“In fairness he would've put many of the so-called sports commentators to shame, albeit a few of his words would certainly not have been deemed fit for broadcasting companies,” it said.

The club said Brian was diagnosed with illness around six years ago but it could not deflate his indomitable spirit.

“Not once did he let it get him down or dampen his love of life and in true ‘Reilly’ fashion he faced it head on and got on with living and following his beloved Celtic,” the club observed.

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The statement continued: “’Reilly’ had a few years in age and experience to us ‘Bhoys’ in the club but you'd be hard pushed to notice that as his zest for life tore down any perceived age barrier.

"’Reilly’ loved the Paul McStay CSC and all the ‘Bhoys’ in it and we loved him right back. We we're the sons he never had as borne out this week as we flanked him on his final journey to his eternal resting place over looking his beloved Brandywell.

"‘Reilly’ we loved you in life and in death you will forever be in all our hearts old friend. You sleep easy comrade and watch over all your ‘Bhoys’ until we meet again. You Will Never Walk Alone’.”

Brian is mourned by his siblings Raymond, Charlie, June, Martin, Christine, Moya and Annie and his wider family circle.

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He passed away in Culmore Manor on Christmas Day after a battle with cancer. Originally from the Brandywell he lived for a time at Grainan Drive, Belmont.