One of St. Comhghall’s GAC Antrim and Antrim County’s great servents, Raymond McNeilly was laid to rest this morning. Following Requiem Mass in St. Comgall’s Parish Church his burial took place at Sixmile Cemetry. Raymond had a lifetime association with the Antrim town club serving them as a player, referee, mentor and committee member. The St. Comhghall’s Club posted this tribute on the Saffron Gael:
It was with great sadness that we as a club learned of the death of our esteemed member and former player, Raymond McNeilly. Raymond was a stalwart of St Comgall’s for many years and was pivotal in many of the teams successes over the years. In 1962 at the age of 17, young Ray joined the club playing at U21 and Senior. He was to remain on the senior team for 28 years – playing right up to 1990. Ray was part of one of the most successful teams in the club’s history winning 4 league titles in a row during the 60s – Divisions 6 to 5 to 4 to 3, and soon after they were promoted to Division 1B. One of Raymond’s most memorable successes was winning the Junior Championship in 1972, beating St Enda’s. Raymond had an outstanding game scoring 1-4 in the first half and then dropping into a more defensive role in the second half to secure the win – taking no chances and definitely taking nothing for granted.
This was probably Ray’s last success with the team from his own generation. However, his playing days were far from over! Ray remained with the senior team and was soon to be Captain. He encouraged a whole new generation of young players to step up to senior level and he wasn’t to be disappointed. This team went on to win another Junior Championship in 1982 and the Division 4 league title in 1984 – Raymond’s last major success as a player. Ray went on to enjoy the game from the ‘other side’ – as a referee! He used his experience as a player well and was always seen to make firm but fair decisions. In the early 90s Raymond won an All-Ireland 7s medal for Co Antrim – a medal he was very proud of. Raymond was not only a talented player, he was also an enthusiastic clubman who carried out so many roles – including Groundsman, kit-man, juvenile coach and also held the post of Secretary for a number of years.Many decisions Raymond was involved in are still evident in the club today eg the club originally played in All White but Green was added when numbers on shirts became compulsory. We have been told that Raymond got some green felt and cut out the numbers and gave Maire the job of stitching them onto the jerseys (one of the many tasks carried out in the Mc Neilly household as their washing line was always filled with the team jerseys dutifully washed and mended as Raymond liked the team to be turned out well every match day!) We are very thankful for Raymond’s huge contribution to our club. A true gentleman, a good friend, a loyal teammate, a legend.
Rest in Peace Raymond.
To Raymond’s wife Moira, his son Gareth, daughter Helen and his extended family circle the Saffron Gael extend their sincere sympathy