McQuillan’s GAC Ballycastle said farewell to a faithful servant at the weekend when former player, administrator and Coach Raymond ‘Rab’ Coyles was laid to rest. Rab, who had been in ill health for the past year, passed away late on Wednesday night and was laid to rest after Requiem mass on Saturday morning in St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s in his beloved Ballycastle.
Rab was born in 1938 and was just starting to get involved in following the club in the late forties and early fifties when the ‘Town’ won five titles in seven years between 1948 and 1954, which included a first three-in-a-row in ’52, ’53 and ’54. However the club’s fortunes slipped a little during his early playing days in the late fifties and early sixties, and when they dropped down into Division 2 in 1964 there was doom and gloom in the black and amber ranks. However the men from the Town caused a major upset that year when they came through and won their first senior title in 12 years when they beat Loughgiel in the final. Rab Coyles was a member of that side.
He was still involved with the club when they won their next title eleven years later in 1975, a victory that was to signal the start of another golden era when they won seven titles in the next ten years including their second 3-in-a-row, plus the first ever 3-in-a –row of Ulster titles.
In later years he was involved in both coaching and administration and served as club chairman for a total of twelve years, during three different spells. He coached both hurling and camogie and was part of the Antrim management team with Fr Paddy Delargy who steered Antrim to the All Ireland Junior final against Clare in 1981 when they were beaten by three points. His daughter Karen, who tragically lost her life six years ago, was the goalkeeper on that team.
Karen and him are now reunited and no doubt hurling on the God’s green lawns.