Funeral of Cliftonville legend Tommy Breslin takes place

Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Funeral of former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Leading figures from the world of football have joined hundreds of mourners for the funeral of Cliftonville FC legend Tommy Breslin.

The 58-year-old former manager and player was laid to rest this morning, three weeks after he died suddenly while on holiday in Spain on August 7.

Requiem Mass was celebrated in St Gerard’s Church, Antrim Road in Newtownabbey this morning, and the funeral cortege made a commemorative stop in tribute to Mr Breslin at Cliftonville’s north Belfast ground Solitude on the way to Roselawn Cemetery.

Among those in attendance were Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter, former Portadown manager Ronnie McFall, and ex-Linfield striker Glenn Ferguson, as well as many current and former Cliftonville players.

Comedian and Cliftonville fan Tim McGarry also paid his respects, as did Sinn Fein MLA’s Gerry Kelly and Caral Ni Chuiln.

Mr Breslin’s family have asked for donations in lieu of flowers to be made to the NI Chest, Heart and Stroke Association.

Club chairmen past and present have paid tribute to Jordanstown man Mr Breslin, who led the Reds to eight trophies in a four-year spell that included back-to-back Irish Premiership titles in 2013 and 2014.

His title success in 2013 ended the club’s 15-year wait for silverware.

One of the highlights of Mr Breslin’s managerial career was a Champions League qualifying tie against Celtic in July 2013 – who were managed at that time by former Northern Ireland captain Neil Lennon.

Current Cliftonville chairman Gerard Lawlor said Mr Breslin “changed people’s lives” during his reign at the club.

“Tommy was a totally unique human being,” he said.

“With his infectious smile and warm personality, he could change the atmosphere in a room by merely entering it.

“Bressie was one in a million, I genuinely have never heard a bad word said about him and I have yet to meet a more humble person.”