04 Dec 2017
Billings Park – Celebrating the legacy of a wonderful man
On Thursday the 30th of November 2017, UCD named it’s main GAA pitch in Belfield “Billings Park” in honour of the GAA legend, Dave Billings.
Dave was a UCD student in the 1970’s and spent 18 year as the head of GAA in UCD. His sudden death in April 2015 was a profound shock felt by so people who loved and respected him not only in the GAA circles but across all sports and across the wider UCD community.
On the playing field he won All Ireland Senior Championship medals with Dublin and numerous medals with his beloved St. Vincent’s. Proud among his many achievements was his Sigerson Cup medal with UCD.
His involvement in the GAA at club and county level also extended to roles as selector and manager with numerous teams.
On the night to mark the opening All Ireland Champions, Dublin played UCD in a challenge match. Although not all the players on All Ireland finals day were out on the pitch many graduates of UCD and those who fondly remembered Dave from their College years were there on their night to pay their respects.
Kilkenny’s Cillian Buckley and Dublin’s Cian O’Sullivan, Michael Fitzsimons, Brian Fenton and Con O’Callaghan were some of those there on the night and Tipperary and former Fitzgibbon Manager, Nicky English was also there for the celebration.
In a special commemorative programme, UCD graduate and Dublin’s Brian Fenton said: “I am so proud to say that I knew the legend that is Dave Billings. Not only did he give advice to take on to the football field, he showed a genuine interest in my personal development off it. One of my fondest memories is cycling home from UCD with Dave one evening where he shared old stories of his playing days. You couldn’t meet a more loveable man. His grá for Gaelic Games was evident in everything that he did. I was very lucky to have crossed paths with Dave in UCD and something I shall always be forever grateful for.”
Director of Sport and Dublin legend, Brian Mullins, himself a fellow Vincents man said about Dave; “Under Dave’s direction UCD GAA has been a home away from home for so many. He shaped the lives of thousands of students, making every individual important to him and to the club.
He believed that the value of playing sport in University was something which would stand to students for the rest of their lives.”
On the night GAA President, Aogán Ó Fearghaíl was present and officially opened the pitch with Dave’s wife, Annette. Dave’s family were all present along with guests from the Dublin County board, proud sponsors AIB and of course Dublin Manager Jim Gavin.
It was an emotional but indeed fitting tribute and occasion.
Here in UCD, Dave was our Moses and our Methuselah. He transformed the lives of generations of young people and that is his greatest legacy on campus. The opening of Billings Park is therefor a physical reminder of his legacy and a wonderful testament to his contribution.