Carrick Swan GAA Club lost one of its great hurlers and club officers with the death of William Lonergan, whose funeral took place last week.
Mr Lonergan from Clairin, Carrick-on-Suir was a vice-president and trustee of the Swan Club when he sadly passed away. He was a former Swan Club chairman, who in his playing days captained the Swan senior hurling team and won All-Ireland Minor and Intermediate hurling medals with Tipperary.
In a moving tribute at his funeral, Swan Club Secretary Sean Ã“â€™SÃ© described William Lonergan as a â€œcommanding figureâ€ on the playing field, who remained the â€œsame commanding figure throughout his life in the Clubâ€.
â€œHis passing is a massive loss to the Club; all who soldiered with him and worked with him are the richer for the experience just as we are all the poorer for his passing,â€ said Mr Oâ€™Se.
Mr Ã“â€™SÃ© recounted that William Lonergan was born in Ard Mhuire in Carrick in 1941 to his late father Sean and late mother Annie, a sister of Nicholas Connors, one of the Swan Clubâ€™s founders. He was the fifth of eight children and is pre-deceased by his sisters Eily, Anna and Noreen.
Mr Ã“â€™SÃ© said William perfected his GAA skills as a child on The Green in Carrick.
He was blessed with a strong physique and was brave and could play in any back position or, if the need arose, in the forwards too,
He won a minor hurling medal with the Swan in 1956 when the team beat Killenaule in the final. He was a member of the Tipperary Minor Hurling team that won an All-Ireland title in 1959 when Tipperary beat Kilkenny.
That same year, he won his first club senior hurling medal when the Swan defeated Marlfield/Grange in the South Tipperary Championship final.
He added an U-21 club hurling medal in 1962 when Swan beat Ballingarry. In 1965, he was proud to be part of a Swan team that won the Junior hurling South final by beating Mullinahone.
In 1966, both William and his great friend and club mate Jim Drohan won All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling title medals with Tipperary when the team beat Dublin in Enniscorthy.
When Carrick Swan won the County U-21 hurling title in 1972, a young senior team was emerging and William lent his experience to this team. He captained the senior team in 1974 when they won the South Senior Hurling title in a memorable local derby against Carrick Davins.
He won his last senior medal in 1978 against the Ballingarry/St. Patrickâ€™s combination team known as Fionn McCumhaill. He suffered injury during that game and was hospitalised. Thankfully he recovered and ended up playing on a team with his sons Sean and Bobby.
When his playing days were over, William became a selector for many Swan teams, and proudly watched his sons, grandsons and granddaughters play for the Swan. He held many key roles on the Clubâ€™s committee.
He was present at every Club agm that his health allowed him to be at, and his voice was always one of wisdom and common sense.
A few months ago, he was rewarded for a lifetime of service to the GAA by receiving a Sean Gael Award from MicheÃ¡l Oâ€™Muircheartaigh in Thurles.
â€œWhat made William different from most was his drive and his passion for getting things done,â€ Mr Ã“â€™SÃ© recalled.
â€œOne example is the Carrick Swan Juvenile Centre. It would not be there if it wasnâ€™t for Williamâ€™s leadership and hard work and we must publicly acknowledge also the part that his wife Bernie played not only in that project but many others besides.
â€œFor all his sporting achievements perhaps his greatest attribute was one of kindness, his innate generosity to those less well off, always done under the radar,â€ Mr Ã“â€™SÃ© added.
William Lonergan is survived by his wife of 52 years Bernie, sons Sean, Bobby, Liam and daughter Mandy, his brother John, sisters Mary, Peggy and Phylis, daughters in-law, son in-law, brothers in-law, sisters in-law, grandchildren, great grandchild, nephews, nieces, extended family and friends.