It was with great sadness and no little shock when we heard the news of the passing of one of our clubs most dedicated and decorated athletes and a club stalwart, Bernard O’Neill affectionately known as “Pinky” to those who knew and loved him. Not just a loyal, dedicated and proud club member but a truly great friend, advisor and confidante to many who had the pleasure of knowing him.
He has been one of our great sportsmen both in Gaelic Games with his beloved Carrick Swans and in our own Clonmel Athletic Club. Hugely popular and greatly loved across many sports, it was athletics which proved to be his greatest love and abiding passion throughout his life. A terrific sprinter and a fierce competitor.
The title of “Gentleman” was most definitely made for Bernard. Those who knew him were only enriched by his presence and the enthusiasm he expressed for his sprinting and love for competition. Bernard’s specialty events were the 100m, 200m and Long Jump and he planned for each event with great enthusiasm and dedication. Indeed, Bernard was no stranger to the top of the podium at National Masters level this year winning Gold in the 60m indoor and Silver in the 200m. I know from talking to him last week that he was deep in preparation for the National Masters outdoor Championships. Bernard was a mine of information regarding sport, training, injury treatment but always willing to learn new ways of training.
The weekly training sessions on a Monday night at the Track involving Bernard, Hazel Galloway and John Laste were great craic. They centred around planning and plotting the training for the next Championships on the horizon as well as solving the problems of the world. The training plans were always meticulously drawn up, leaving no stone unturned.
Bernard leaves us with wonderful memories, of a man who loved his wife and family, lived for his sport, and gave 100% at every aspect of his preparation for competition. He showed us all that sport is for life and should never give up on attaining the goals we set ourselves. I know I speak for all my Club mates in saying we have lost a truly dear friend and club mate. Rest in Peace Pinky, but first; “On your marks….Set…..Go”!
His unexpected and untimely passing leaves an immense void in our midst, and we are all incredibly heartbroken at the abrupt loss of our great friend. His legacy will be long-lasting as will the memory of Pinky’s infectious enthusiasm, instant laughter, love of fun and gentle ways.
To his wife Marian, children, grand-children and huge circle of friends, we would like to extend our deepest and heart-felt sympathy on your incalculable loss. He was an unforgettable presence who sowed happiness and enriched all of our lives. Rest in peace Bernard. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.