Tributes paid to a sporting legend

BANBRIDGE sporting legend, Peck Reavey (87) who passed away on 1st January, had fought a brave, 18-month battle against cancer.

Well-known as a fearless hero on the gaelic pitch and boxing ring in his younger days, the retired Banbridge butcher remained courageous right up until the end and never lost his sense of humour.

“He was quick-witted right up until the end and was always ready with a quick jibe,” said his daughter, Claire. “He enjoyed his life and he had a long and happy one.”

That life was remembered by sporting colleagues from the worlds of gaelic, boxing and golf and by family members and friends who travelled from all over the world to attend his funeral service in St Therese’s Church, Scarva Road.

Among the mourners was his young grand-daughter, Sophie, who flew in from Australia to pay her respects to a beloved grandad - best known as the former ‘Down’ champion who scored three goals in the U21 final against Kerry in Croke Park in 1949.

“Dad lived for gaelic football in his younger days and this was probably his finest moment,” said Claire. “We were delighted that the two last surviving members of that ‘Down’ team managed to travel long distances to attend the funeral.”

Mr Reavey is survived by his wife Gertie and the couple would have celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary on January 2nd - the day after his death.

In addition to playing gaelic football to a high level, Mr Reavey managed local team Clann Na Banna and was a highly respected referee. He also excelled at boxing and was a member of Banbridge Amateur Boxing Club, going on to box in an Ulster final at the height of his career in the ring.

When he wasn’t competing on the sports field, Peck followed football and spent many an enjoyable vist cheering his team, Manchester United, to victory.

“Football was another great passion and dad was delighted to have been at Wembley to watch the European Cup Final in 1968,” said Claire. “He also visited America for the World Cup in 1994 and was proud to tell everybody he saw Ireland beat Italy.

“He was always very sporty and as a child I would have gone to matches with him. He was a devoted father and I was a real ‘daddy’s girl’ and went everywhere with him.

“Horse racing was another sport which sparked a interest and he often visited his brother Eddie, a horse trainer in Oxford, who once rode in the Grand National.”

In his later years, Mr Reavey also enjoyed a game of golf and was a former captain and president of Banbridge Golf Club where he instigated the Reavey Scratch Cup.

Away from the sporting arena he was instrumental in bringing the Credit Union to Banbridge and Claire says she and her mum were both moved to hear a number of personal stories from people who attended the funeral and were appreciative of this fact.

“People came up to us and said they remembered getting their first loan thanks to dad and others said they would never have had a car on the road only for him,” added Claire. “It was nice to hear how he helped people like that.”

Mr Reavey is survived by his wife Gertie, daughter Claire, grand-daughters, Sophie (24) and Eve (21) and great-grandson, Lennan (5); also sister Ita and brother Dessie who both live in Connecticut, America; a sister, Sheila, who lives in England; and a sister, Maye, who resides in Newry.