Large turnout expected at removal of Longford rugby star

The removal of Longford rugby star Derek Bannon takes place this evening as tributes continue to flood in for the popular 28-year-old sportsman.

The removal of Longford rugby star Derek Bannon takes place this evening as tributes continue to flood in for the popular 28-year-old sportsman.

Dozens of mourners from Longford rugby Club are expected to attend to travel to St Peter’s Church, Rhode, Co Offaly later today after the talented centre was killed in a car crash in Sligo on Monday evening.

The two car collision, which gardai are continuing to investigate, occurred along a stretch of the N4, near Drumfin, shortly before 9pm.

A second man, from the Killoe area of Co Longford, was taken to hospital for minor injuries.

News of the tragedy has led to a string of heartfelt messages from Longford Rugby Club respresentatives.

“Derek was a very popular member of the club and was a very valuable member so this is very sad news to be getting,” said club secretary Derek Turner earlier this week. “He played with the club from U10s all the way up to senior level and was a successful member on the Moyne School team growing up.”

Likewise, the club has since issued a statement on its website, paying tribute to the prison officer known more affectionately as ‘Bano’.

“Derek started playing rugby in Moyne CBS after moving from Rhode to Longford and quickly became a fixture in Longford RFC underage teams. Derek soon graduated to play for the senior team, where he established himself at first centre. 

“Bano was known for his huge tackles and ball carrying ability and was an integral part of the Longford sides that gained promotion from the old Division 4 to Division 1B, where the Longford 1st XV again find themselves in with a chance of promotion.

“Unfortunately due to taking up work as a Prison Officer, Derek was unable to commit to playing over the last two seasons, but was keen to return to playing and was a regular supporter throughout the season.  Derek was a very loyal and dependable friend and was always involved in the social side of the club.  The President, Board and all members of Longford RFC would like to express their profound sympathies to all Derek’s family and friends.  He will be sorely missed.”

Derek’s removal takes place this evening at 6:30pm, arriving at St Peter’s Church for 7pm. Funeral Mass is scheduled for 11am tomorrow (Friday) followed by burial to the adjoining cemetery.