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Dublin: 9 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020

Trophy named after Dublin stalwart Billings to be presented in Croke Park tomorrow

The All-Ireland freshers football trophy has been named after the legendary UCD GAA figure.

GER BRENNAN CAN go back a way to recall his first dealings with Dave Billings.

His memories are firmly rooted to early days with St Vincent’s.

Ger Brennan Ger Brennan in action for St Vincent's in the 2014 Dublin county senior final Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“My first memories of Dave are of training with his son Cathal with the club at Vincent’s.

“Going back to playing U15′s and U16′s and minors. Just another parent that was out supporting their kids, no more than my own parents were.”

When the time came for Brennan to forge his path with the Dublin senior footballers, Billings was there to help as well.

“As I would have come on to the Dublin senior panel at 19, 20, he would have been always the go to guy if you needed a hand with anything or were under pressure with your own college exams.

“He always guided you in the right direction and was someone you could always confide in.”

Dave Billings with Paul Caffrey Dave Billings during his time as Dublin selector with former manager Paul Caffrey Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The sudden passing of Billings last April prompted a huge outpouring of tributes.

He had been synonymous with UCD in his role as GAA officer in Belfield and it is Brennan who now fills that void, taking up the position last November.

Tomorrow Billings will be remembered in Croke Park. The Higher Education GAA authorities have decided to rename the All-Ireland Freshers Football trophy after Billings.

Fittingly it is UCD who are contesting the final with DCU in the opponent’s corner.

“The Coiste Ardoideachais as a way of acknowledging his contribution to college sport GAA over 18 years, a couple of weeks ago they would have got in touch with the office,” stated Brennan.

“The committee had decided to name the Fresher football cup after him. The college were certainly delighted that was being done.

“Those in attendance who are not playing but would have been part of the circle, it certainly will be a very poignant moment, indeed for his family.”

Dublin and Tipperary stand together before the game Dublin and Tipperary players stand together in memory of Dave Billings before last year's EirGrid All-Ireland U21 football semi-final Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

It’s a significant week for UCD GAA with the Freshers decider followed by their Sigerson side contesting the semi-final in Jordanstown next Friday afternoon.

In the year after Billing’s death, success would carry a layer of poignancy.

For Brennan, the legacy of Billings work is something he is conscious of.

“You would endeavour to carry on in the role here in the college is that sense of family that Dave would have created with boys and girls coming up from different parts of the country and Dublin.

“That sense of belonging he would have given to them to be part of the club no matter whether they were the elite player or the person on the junior b team. Everyone had a purpose and a place within the GAA club.

“It was like a state funeral in Clontarf, the number of people who showed up. Players that he would have been involved with over the years, He would have a hand in thousands of people over the 18 years in their development.

“He has left a massive legacy behind him but a very positive legacy. I remember the priest who presided over the funeral mass, he said that he mightn’t have lived as long a life as he wanted but he certainly lived a full one. That was very poignant.”

‘I met Dave first over 50 years ago, he lit a fire in me then and it has burned ever since.’

Connolly on Billings – ‘He was a massive influence for me, he was an exceptional man’

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Fintan O'Toole

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