The late Tony Smith who passed away on Saturday
Tony Smith, a much loved sporting figure in Clonmel has passed away suddenly causing profound grief in the community.
Affectionately known as The Bull Smith,Tony lived at Fairfields,Clonmel with his family and was a stalwart figure in the
St.Mary s and Clonmel Commercials GAA clubs in Clonmel and well known for his soccer talent and his passion for training greyhounds.He passed away on Saturday surrounded by his devastated family.Tony is pictured below with his wife Helen and some members of his family.
A minutes silence was observed in his memory at the Munster football championship game in Clonmel today between Commercials and Dr.Croke's.The TSDL cancelled the Clonmel Town /Wilderness shield final due to be played today as a mark of respect.Tony is pictured below with a new generation of St.Mary's hurlers.
Tony passed away peacefully in the care of the medical staff at Beaumount Hospital Dublin. Tony, father of the late Mark,is sadly missed by his wife Helen, his loving family Tony Jnr, Killian, Caroline, Cora, Darren, Ali, Helen and Marcus, brothers, sister, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
Reposing at Fennessy's Funeral Home this Tuesday evening from 5 o'clock with removal to SS Peter & Paul's church at 7 o'clock. Requiem Mass on Wednesday at 1 o'clock. Funeral thereafter to St.Patrick's Cemetery. Family flowers only please. Donations if desired to Beaumont Hospital.
In September 2016 Tony was interviewed by The Nationalist about his life and sporting career.
The following article written by Eamon Lacey was published.
Throughout his long sporting career Tony Smith had a reputation as a fine hurler,a team player and a fearsome competitor.
“The Bull” Smith, as he was known for his distinctive running style on the pitch, was well able to look after himself on the field but he also took on the responsibility of looking after younger players “making sure nobody was blackguarding them”.
It was no surprise then that long after his sporting career finished in the St.Mary’s colours at the age of forty five that GAA and soccer clubs came together to support him when he needed it most.
He won most of his battles on the field but one of his biggest battles came off the field in May of last year when an infection caused the loss of his left leg which was amputated after a five month battle to save it.
Tony, who lives with his wife Helen in Fairfields,Clonmel, was diagnosed with diabetes in 1991 and ten years later he started to have difficulties with his feet.
“It all started when I felt incredibly tired after a game which was very unlike me, I knew there was something wrong and a short time later I was diagnosed with diabetes” he said.
Tony, who trained greyhounds all his life, began to have complications around 2001.
“ I went from walking seven miles a day to not being able to walk at all” because of problems with his right foot and in subsequent years he went through procedures to remove toes on that foot.
He started to experience problems with his left leg years later and in May of last year an infection in that leg led to the amputation of the leg after five months of trying everything to save it.
“It was a very difficult time for me and my family” said Tony who had enjoyed so much success in the sporting arena.
He was on the only St.Mary’s senior hurling team to win a divisional south title in 1981, and also won county intermediate and junior A titles with the club, won two county senior football titles and U 21 county title with Commercials,won two county senior hurling titles in Limerick playing with Kilmallock,played in an All-Ireland senior hurling semi final with London against Cork in 1972 in the old Gaelic Athletic Grounds, won an All-Ireland medal with Tipperary when he lined out on the masters team ( over forty) against Kilkenny and represented Tipperary at U/21 and intermediate. .
Tony said he and his family were overwhelmed by the kindness of people and incredibly grateful to them for their support at that time.
Clonmel Celtic handed over their grounds and Clonmel Og their function room for the night and players from all the clubs in the town took part in an exhibition match .His own club St.Marys held a tournament match against Carrick Swan to help out the Smith family.
“I did not know anything about it, I went up to the field just thinking I was going to a match and I was asked to go through a guard of honour, it brought a tear to my eye.I could not believe that so many people would go to so much trouble for me,” said Tony.
The proceeds raised helped Tony purchase an automatic car and the generosity and support of people,those that he knew from the playing field for decades , and the new generation is something that he will always cherish.
He thanked Jimmy Collins, John Carew and Fergus McGrath of St Marys and John Quirke for his support for organising the match.
Since losing the leg Tony has had to make some life changing adjustments in his life but he is making progress and is grateful to the massive support of his wife Helen , their children and their families.
“People have been wonderful to me in the last eighteen months.Family,friends ,neighbours are a great support and everybody I have met in hospitals in Clonmel ,Waterford and Cork have been fantastic,” said Tony.
With characteristic determination Tony is getting his life back together.
He spends a lot of his time driving his grandchildren to school and to matches and is still pursuing his other great hobby - greyhounds.
Tony took charge of his first greyhound at the age of ten and enjoyed tremendous success over the years the highlight of which was winning three prestigious Sporting Press Coursing Club 550 stakes in Shelbourne in 2008,2009 and 2010.
The funds raised by the sporting community has greatly assisted him in getting his life back together again.He put the money towards the purchase of an automatic car and being able to drive again has given him back his independence.
As anybody who encountered Tony during his playing days will know it is very hard to hold him back.
“I never look back, you have to keep looking ahead,” said Tony.