Lisbon Lion hero Willie laid to rest

Willie O'Neil Funeral.
Willie O'Neil Funeral.

A SOMBre mood fell over Carbrain last week as the family and friends of Willie O’Neill paid their final respects to the ex-Celt.

Mourners gathered for the 10am Requiem Mass at St Joseph’s on Broomlands Road last Thursday, a week after 70-year-old “Wullie” had passed away.

His family were joined by the remaining members of the Lisbon Lions squad, which Willie had proudly been part of, resplendent in their iconic green blazers.

Father Harry McKay welcomed the many people who had come to the service in the packed church and noted that while differences of religion and faith may have divided many of the people there, they were united in love.

“The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God,” said the Priest, “and no torment shall ever touch them.”.

The hymns Do Not Be Afraid, and Be Still and Know I am With You, were sung throughout and the Mass ended with a touching speech delivered in honour of Willie.

Anecdotes about his banter on the golf course and jokes with team mates lifted the heavy-hearted mood in the church and reminded all those there what a unique man Willie was.

The reader said: “Willie was a humble man and grew up a Celtic fan.

“He was Celtic’s first-ever substitute way back in 1966 when he came on for wee Jinky, and now after all that time, the two of them are together again.”

The church erupted into heartfelt applause, lead by Bertie Auld and other members of the Lions, in recognition of the touching words given by the speaker.

The church rose to its feet and sung Walk With Me Oh My Lord, as Willie’s coffin was blessed with Holy water and incense and Willie’s team-mates stood proud at the aisle as they accompanied his family members out.

Willie O’Neill was a footballing legend who is sure to be missed by many people.