Midlands rugby in mourning with passing of former Athlone RFC stalwart

Rugby in the Midlands region lost one of its great characters with the sudden passing of Kevin Canavan.

Known far and wide as ‘The Basher’, Kevin was a true legend at Athlone Rugby Football Club whom he captained in season 1978/79. The Ballymahon man served the club for many seasons, playing a variety of roles commencing in the centre before switching to the front row trenches as a very formidable and competitive prop. His fearsome prowess in the three-quarters line was recognised by the Connacht selectors too and he was capped against Munster and Leinster in 1975.

Canavan played in five Connacht Senior Cup finals in the 1970’s being on the winning Athlone side in both 1976 and 1977, with the club enjoying a memorable Senior Cup and League double in 1976/77. Kevin also played in the 1983/84 Junior Cup final towards the end of his memorable rugby career. He was also a highly regarded Gaelic footballer in Longford wearing the county colours at Minor, U-21 and Senior grades. He also captained his home club Ballymahon where he later held a variety of coaching roles.

Canavan also contributed in voluntary roles at Athlone Rugby Club, notably on disco nights at the old clubhouse at Keane Park when the ‘post mortem’ went on in to the small hours. He was a joy to converse with and loved a game of cards. In latter years he would pop up at Buccaneers matches where his observations were as astute as his tackling had been sharp. He was a great source of encouragement to younger players in schools teams and underage sides in both rugby and gaelic. His unpublicised support of friends is also typical of the man that was Kevin Canavan.

Kevin rarely missed attending funerals of club colleagues and/or their family members and it is sadly ironic that COVID-19 restrictions meant he did not get the full send-off that he truly warranted. However, a substantial number of former team colleagues and members and officials of Athlone and Buccaneers rugby clubs provided a guard of honour on Ballymahon bridge as Kevin’s cortege passed on his final journey to St. Matthew’s Church.

While Kevin will be dearly missed by so many at Buccaneers, the unimaginable loss will be felt greatest by his wife Sheelagh, daughters Michelle, Denise and Niamh, and extended family including brother David who was another club stalwart. Heartfelt condolences are extended to his family and numerous friends. May the Lord grant him eternal rest.

Rugby resumes at Dubarry Park

The very last rugby game played in Ireland prior to the COVID-19 lockdown was Buccaneers rescheduled All-Ireland League fixture at home to MU Barnhall. Thus it was fitting perhaps that the resumption of rugby under IRFU ‘Return to Rugby Protocols’ following this unprecedented break took place at Dubarry Park last weekend!

On Friday night the Volkswagen/IRFU Tag Rugby Summer League commenced, while a highly successful one-day Touch Rugby tournament involving teams from far and wide tapped off on Saturday morning.


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