James Crombie/INPHO
Paying Tribute

Connolly on Billings - 'He was a massive influence for me, he was an exceptional man'

Former Dublin selector Dave Billings passed away this week.

DIARMUID CONNOLLY HAS paid a glowing tribute to the late Dave Billings for the influence he had on the 2014 Allstar’s career.

Billings passed away suddenly on Tuesday night and Connolly is extremely thankful for the role that his St Vincent’s club mate played.

“(He was) an absolutely massive influence on me. He brought me into the Dublin setup when Pillar Caffrey was the manager. I was only 18 years of age.

“He gave me great guidance in the game, on and off the field. Obviously, a Vincent’s man – like myself – very saddened to hear he had passed. I only really got to know him in that setup when I was 18.

“I was little bit naïve coming into a setup where there are media obligations and all this sort of stuff.

“And he directed me in the right path. He was a really good coach. He was a massive influence for me. He was an exceptional man.”

Connolly revealed that he last spoke to Billings last weekend and would have played for years at club level with his sons.

“I would know his sons; Cathal and Neil very well. I played hurling and football with them all the way up with the club.

“I was actually only speaking to him (Dave) on Saturday. I met him on Collins’ Avenue, cycling on his bike.

“You can see by the amount of tweets and media stuff, even talking to people around here today, you can see the amount of people he actually influenced. Not just in GAA, but in other parts of life as well. 

“He always had a smile on his face. He always had a bit of humor to what he was doing. He’ll be missed.

“I haven’t been up in Vincent’s since he passed but the funeral is on Saturday morning and I’m sure it will be a massive funeral. It’s awfully sad on the family. It’s a sad time.”

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

Tributes pour in after Dublin, St Vincent’s and UCD GAA stalwart Dave Billings passes away

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