On a glorious Sunday evening on 16th September 2018 Cloughjordan Village was thronged as crowds gathered to celebrate the North senior final victory over Kiladangan. As the team paraded through the village, they were joined by the successful minor team that had won the North Final seven days earlier and the U14 team that had claimed the County Final the previous day. Pat and Liz Williams were proud parents as they had a son on each team, Thomas on the seniors, Páidí on the minors and Oisín on the U14s. Sitting happy as Larry on the lorry with his colleagues was a beaming Oisín, revelling in the celebrations.
Oisín had been a key player on the U14 team that won North & County Divisional Féile and Championship titles that year. During a long campaign he had finished top scorer. In the County final victory over Arravale Rovers he grabbed two crucial goals while in the North Final he had helped himself to 2-1. Oisín had a poacher’s instinct for finding the net and he will be long remembered for his winning goal in the County Féile Final against Rockwell/Rosegreen in Templemore. Deep into injury Kilruane MacDonaghs trailed by two points. Oisín stepped up to a 25m metre free and sent a daisy-cutter to the net to give victory to the Magpies.
From an early age Oisín and his hurl were inseparable…… a hurl in one hand and the sliotar in the other. MacDonagh Park was his second home and it is very appropriate that, as a mark of respect, the Tricolour is now flying at half-mast in the pitch where he spent so many happy hours In 2014 Oisín was part of the U12 panel that did the divisional double in hurling and football and went on to add the County title in hurling. In 2016 he was a pivotal figure in the attack as Cloughjordan School won the North Football championship. He went on to play U16 and minor with the club.
Oisín played with both the North & County U14 hurling and football teams and the County U15 hurling team and this year he was part of the Tipperary minor hurling development squad. Two of Oisín’s coaches were fulsome in their praise. Paudie Malone from Portroe said that “Oisín was a young player with blistering pace who had a knack of scoring goals. He would always greet you with a smile and a little chat. Eamon Power from Ballina said that “Oisín was the life and soul of the dressing room with the Tipperary academy in recent years -always smiling, A serious hurler and a natural goalscorer.” Unfortunately, a career which showed so much promise will never reach full bloom.
The death of one so young has cast a dark shadow over the community in general and the Kilruane MacDonaghs club in particular. The bright sunshine of St. Patrick’s Day could not dispel the sense of shock and bewilderment that enveloped the parish. In such a situation we strive in vain to find the right questions never mind the right answers. The death of Oisín is a stark reminder of how precious and fragile is the gift of life and how vulnerable we all are.
Everybody experiences difficult days and dark moments in their lives. We can be overburdened with worry and feel overwhelmed with anxiety. That is human nature. We can be oblivious to the fact that many are there to help….our families, our friends, our community and various organisations. In the Kilruane MacDonaghs club we like to think that we are there for our members in good times and bad. We encourage people, particularly young people to reach out and ask for help. We want people to look out for each other, be kind to each other and be a good friend to each other.
In these unbearably difficult days for Pat, Liz and their family, words are totally inadequate as we endeavour to express our deep sympathy and convey our heartfelt sorrow. Only those that have walked in their shoes can even begin to comprehend the pain of their loss. Sadly, too many of us in this parish and beyond have experienced similar grief. However, we can assure Pat, Liz and their family that we are there for them now and will be there for them in the future, whenever and wherever they need us. When we meet them let us not be afraid to ask how they are and let us not hesitate to speak Oisín’s name. He was, is, and will always be their son, brother and grandson.
The death of Oisín in such tragic circumstances at such a young age rocks the very foundations of our faith, whether our faith is strong, weak or somewhere in between. Faith will not take away the pain but offers some faint glimmer of hope, some little grain of comfort to Pat, Liz and their family as they struggle to continue with their lives that have been forever changed with the death of Oisín. And extraordinarily difficult as it may be on this the saddest of occasions, we must trust in God’s goodness, mercy and compassion.
On behalf of the Kilruane MacDonaghs club I would like to extend sympathy to Pat, Liz, Thomas, David, Páidi, Leah, Ciara, Oisín’s grandparents Pat & Noreen and extended family. We hope the good memories of Oisín and the many happy times ye had together will help sustain the family in the days, months and years ahead.
I will conclude with a very short reflection which may provide a little consolation to the family
Those we love don’t go away
They walk beside us every day
Unseen, unheard but always near
Still loved, still missed but forever dear