It is with a heavy heart that I on behalf of Bishop Duffy and the people of our community welcome you here to the funeral mass for Ógie Ó’Dufaigh. I welcome and offer our sincerest sympathy to Ógies heartbroken family. His father Brendán, mother Esther, and sisters Claire and Áine. Aunts, Uncles and all his relations. His many friends, fellow players in Monaghan Harps GFC and U20 county team and his work mates in Kingspan.
Special welcome to Commandant, Caroline Burke, representing an Taoiseach.
Welcome too, to the president of the GAA Larry McCarthy, and to all the GAA family.
Warm welcome to all that have travelled from across the country, especially from Donegal.
Welcome to my Colleagues Fathers Sean O Gallagher, Stephen Joyce and Jason Murphy, and Fr John Flannagan, his school friend and neighbour
Welcome to all who are joining us on the webcam today. I know you are joining us not only from our country but also from many parts of the world.
We thank God for Ógies short life, for the love, kindness, and happiness he gave to family and to all who knew him. We pray that all of us will find comfort from a God who is with us in the tragedy of life.
We begin our celebration with symbols that were prepared by his family and friends Shea Prunty and Darren Nolan.
Let me begin by expressing our sincerest and heartfelt sympathy to Ógies family. I know you are devastated, heartbroken, and in bits today. Our community too, is numb with grief. Its so evident from flicking through the condolences on RIP.ie that Ógies death has touched the hearts of so many nationally and internationally.
On Friday night last, three of us from the academy of Annaylla National School – Declan, Brendán, and I along with Claire and many others witnessed the shining star of Ógie fade beyond the clouds, but only to brighten the room that is prepared for him in the Gospel today.
It’s not what we had hoped for, we hoped that Ógies star would have continued to shine on his family and loved ones and on the greatest GAA pitches and stages in Ireland.
We have many questions – Why? – How? – Where?
How could this happen to Ógie? – Where are you God?
Pious platitudes are not any use to us today. We cannot solve the mystery. All we can do is huddle in grief around the remains of shattered dreams and what might have been.
Jesus on the cross asked why? – ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’. He felt alone and deserted by his father.
Today the cross stands at the centre of our Christian story, but we believe its not the end of the story. There is for us new life with a God beyond the cross.
Ógie himself, had a very living faith. In pre-Covid times, he would go to morning Mass before a game. He had his rosary beads and cross in the side pocket of his kit bag last Friday night. He lit candles in St Joseph’s Church here in Monaghan town and served the 8:30 Mass along with his two siblings. I think Ógie liked to see me coming into the sacristy, because I was a bit quicker than my colleagues – whom shall remain nameless. He recited some of the rosary for the first virtual Lourdes pilgrimage. He seldom passed a church without blessing himself and was the first to report to Esther if Brendan did not say the morning prayer on the way to school.
Ógie was the proud Captain of the Monaghan minor team in 2018 which won the Ulster title in Armagh. He made his parents proud by delivering his victory speech entirely through Irish. He was selected as the captain by the players, in which 24 out of the 29-man squad voted for him. This was significant because a North Monaghan player got such massive support from the players of South Monaghan. He was as much at home in the company of the Magheracloone boys as he was with the Scotstown boys. After matches, the O’Dufaigh household, was often the boys’ immediate headquarters and nine kit bags were counted in the hallway after one particular match. He was the only player that played every minute of every match, in the League and in the Championship that year. A substitute on the opposing county team was introduced in a League match to – let’s say – limit or restrict Ógies influence on the game – in otherwards take him out. That substitute probably regretted his approach and came out second best of the altercation.
He was invited to join the U20 panel, and this year was selected captain of the 2021 team. He didn’t announce this, indeed he hardly told his parents. Ógie was always very humble – he never played up his game. All he would ever say was ‘I had a good enough game’.
He played soccer originally and broadened his horizons to basketball, swimming, and hurling. He held his own on the Coláiste Oiriall basketball team and also on the juvenile Blackwater Steelers basketball team. He is fondly remembered as a player, who through grit and sheer determination made life difficult for any opponent. He later committed himself to Gaelic Football. He also swam in gala finals for Sliabh Beagh swimming club.
Ógie spent a summer caring for his ten hens, after a chicken coop was purchased in Donegal. He gave his hens loads of TLC. Another summer was spent fishing in Rossmore Park, St. Peters Lake, Hollywood Lake and Loch an Iuir. On one occasion he put all his fishing gear in the boot of his dad’s car and the maggots spilt all around the boot and it remained infested with blue bottles for many weeks. I think Ógie was delighted, I am not so sure about his dad.
He loved his cars and had many car friends. He would wash and polish his car as if it was his baby.
We have heard many stories over the last few days of the positive deeds and great favours he did for many of his friends.
When Covid restrictions were introduced in March 2020, and schools closed, he phoned Grove Turkeys and started working with them the following morning at 6 o’clock. He stayed there until the holidays were announced in July. Ógie was not interested in holidays, and he moved to Kingspan the following day, were he worked until last Thursday.
When closed for Covid after Christmas, he moved to welding iron gates until Kingspan reopened. He was a hard worker, working 12 hr shifts. He would come home at 6:30, eat his daily steak and two turkey burgers while the other family members were reduced to mince. He still managed to make the County GAA Centre at Cloghan or the Harps grounds here in town for training at 8 o’clock. Ógie used his home Gym on the seldom night he had no training.
Today we bury Ógie, on the 30th anniversary of the death of Brendan’s first wife Ann Murphy.
As I said earlier, we had hoped Ógies’ star would shine on his family and on the great GAA pitches and stages of Ireland. We believe that young glint in the eye of the shining star of Ógie Ó’Dufaigh is shining on all of us today.
May he rest in the peace of Christ.