The sense of deep shock and loss at the sudden death of Dave Billings, an immense figure within Dublin GAA, was reflected in the range of personal tributes, including from the association’s director general Páraic Duffy.
“I don’t think there was anyone more popular in the GAA than Dave Billings,” said Duffy. “And I was absolutely shocked to hear the news.
“I knew Dave extremely well, and like everyone who knew him, we all have our own stories about him. My two sons went to UCD, and were absolutely shocked to hear of his death. He could be on the sideline, lose the head and all that, but he was a great, great fella.
“He was on our new standing committee on playing rules, and I spoke to him regularly on the phone. He’d often ring me up about all the issues of the day, and I was devastated to hear the news.”
Billings played both underage football and hurling with Dublin, but made his name as part of Kevin Heffernan’s ground-breaking senior team that won the All-Ireland in 1974. He later managed the Dublin under-21 footballers and numerous teams at UCD, where he worked as Gaelic games executive. He also served as Dublin senior football selector under two consecutive managers, Tommy Lyons and Paul Caffrey.
He was an equally popular figure with his club, St Vincent’s, and for years also served on the executive of the Dublin County Board.
John Costello, CEO of the Dublin County Board, also paid this tribute: “Dave was a Gaelic games evangelist and dedicated large parts of his life to both football and hurling whether as a player, a manager, or as an administrator.
“His influence spread much further than the confines of the playing fields of Dublin city and county as Dave acted as a trusted mentor and guiding light to students from all over Ireland during his 18 years as UCD Gaelic games executive in Belfield. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Annette, sons Liam, Cathal, Neal and daughter Hannah.”
Duffy also sent his best wishes to Tipperary hurler Noel McGrath, the two-time All Star who is set to miss out on the remainder of the 2015 season as he will undergo surgery for testicular cancer on Friday.
“That was a shock too,” said Duffy. “He’s one of the really good fellas in the GAA and I just hope he makes a complete and absolute recovery.”
The Loughmore-Castleiney forward had been prominent in Tipperary’s Allianz League progress to date, among the scorers in the quarter-final win over Offaly. He was expected to feature in this Sunday’s semi-final against Waterford.
Dave Billings funeral arrangements: Reposing at his residence on (Friday) 17th April from 6pm to 8pm. Removal on Saturday morning to St Gabriel’s Church, Dollymount, arriving at 10.20am for Mass at 10.30am. Funeral afterwards to Glasnevin Cemetery.