WALKING THE LINE The Charlestown Sarsfields’ senior management team of, left to right, Colm Horkan, Ciarán McBrien and Seán Higgins are pictured during a championship game in 2007
YOU wonder what Colm Horkan would have made of it all last weekend.
A fanatical Mayo football supporter, and a card-carrying Cairde Maigheo season ticket holder, his coffin was carried on the last leg of its journey into the family funeral home in Charlestown last Saturday evening by James Horan, Cillian O’Connor, Aidan O’Shea, David Clarke, Colm Boyle and Tom Parsons.
All of them wearing white shirts and Mayo GAA ties. Doing their bit in a time of need.
Then there was the video posted on social media by Liverpool FC legend, Ian Rush, sympathising with the Horkan family on behalf of ‘everyone at Liverpool Football Club’.
Rush finished his message with the words, ‘You’ll never walk alone’.
Colm was ‘a real Red since the late 1970s’ say his friends, and was ‘looking forward to seeing them win the league’.
Alas, it was not to be.
And then came the unsurprising way his GAA club, Charlestown Sarsfields, conducted themselves and came together over the course of a harrowing four days.
Their members in the guard of honour were conspicuous by their white shirts and club ties and armbands. ‘We’re doing it the way ‘Bear’ would have wanted it done’ was the motto.
Seán Higgins, who played with Colm on Charlestown teams for years, described his close friend as ‘a rock’ who was ‘just solid’, and says he would have been ‘proud’ of how so many people banded together for a common cause.
“The funeral ceremony, and the way the community reacted in the wake of Colm’s death, was a reflection of the esteem in which he was held,” said Seán. “In every aspect of his life, he was meticulous in everything he did.
“So to see everything that happened last weekend running like clockwork, he’d have been so proud. To see the way the community and the Gardai carried themselves.
“He would have been so proud to have been carried shoulder high by his Garda colleagues, his team-mates from Charlestown and by some of the Mayo lads,” added Seán.
“For everyone in the club, and Colm’s family, it was a great gesture by the Mayo lads, to give of their time like that. Colm used to travel to matches with me and he was a fanatical Mayo fan. It was his real passion.”
The two friends go back a long way, and Seán Higgins sums up their relationship by saying: “We soldiered together, on and off the field, for 30 odd years and that friendship has developed through those years.
“And many of my best memories are shared with Colm, be it our victories in football, holidays we had, weekends away or nights out socially. He was just good company, always made people feel important and gave selflessly of his time.
“The last four days have been tough, but for me, and for a lot of people who knew Colm, the hardest part is having to live without him. The grieving process begins for all of us now.”
Over the last few months of lockdown, Charlestown GAA club have been putting videos of memorable matches from the good old days up on social media to be enjoyed all over again.
A few of them featured games when the likes of Colm and Seán were in their pomp.
They stirred up old memories a few weeks back, but now they have become priceless ones.
“I’m so happy now that Colm got to watch back some of those old games,” said Seán Higgins. “The likes of 1992 against Knockmore and 1993 against Claremorris, he was just starting out as a senior footballer. He was so talented, equally commanding in the forwards as he was at number six. He was just so composed on the ball and never put a foot wrong.
“He was all about the team, he was a team player.”