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'An honour to represent Munster and Paul O'Connell at Donal Walsh funeral'

Retired Munster and Ireland forward Marcus Horan paid tribute to Donal Walsh, who recently lost his battle with cancer.

The Munster squad escort Donal Walsh's coffin.
The Munster squad escort Donal Walsh's coffin.
Image: @ConorKeane

MUNSTER FORWARD MARCUS HORAN has spoken to TheScore.ie about the “inspirational” Kerry teenager Donal Walsh, who passed away on 12 May after a long battle with cancer.

Horan was part of the Munster squad that flanked six teammates acting as coffin bearers at Walsh’s funeral on 15 May. Paul O’Connell, who had a close and long-standing friendship with the Blennerville native, could not make the service but has since visited with the Walsh family.

Horan said, “Donal was great friends with Paul for the last number of years. Paul was close to the family.

Unfortunately for Paul, he was on Lions duty and couldn’t get over for the funeral but he has been back subsequently and visited the family. We represented him on the day and were proud to do so.”

Horan added, “It was Donal’s request to have us there. We were only too delighted to contribute on the day and do something for the family. It was a special moment for everyone involved. It was a very sad occasion but, at the same time, very uplifting to remember all he did. How he spoke was inspirational.

“He had organised everything about the funeral and had even named all his favourite players to carry the coffin. It was an honour to represent Munster and Paul O’Connell on the day.”

Donal Walsh, proudly wearing his Munster jersey, in 2009 when Leinster’s Sean O’Brien and Girvan Dempsey visited Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin. (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

Horan says Munster were a team the 16-year-old really cherished and paid tribute to his stance against suicide and public speaking, such as an appearance on the Saturday Night Show, that urged young people to discuss issues they may be having with friends or family members.

He said, “To see the bravery of a boy of 16 years of age was amazing. He spoke like a grown man that was around for 60 years.

“The kind of honesty, and saying how you feel, is a testament to a lot of young people out there. His story on suicide had a huge impact of people across the country. His family have stated that they have got a load of letters and continue to do so since Donal passed away.”

Walsh has been nominated for Rehab People of the Year. The nominations for the annual awards ceremony close on 14 June with a ceremony on 14 September.

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Patrick McCarry

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