Fran Ray with the 2018 DDSL Kennedy Cup winning side. Picture: Tom Beary/Sportsfile

CLUBS from around Fingal and beyond have been among those to pay tribute to Fran Ray, the Dublin and District Schoolboy League’s Honorary Life President.

Verona hailed Ray “a true legend of a man who gave everything to schoolboy football” while the likes of St Mochta’s, Castleknock Celtic, Glebe North and many other clubs were among those to hail his work on behalf of Europe’s biggest schoolboy league.

Castleknock added: “He served the DDSL for decades and helped us all at different times, always seeing a way forward and a solution for any problems. We will miss him greatly. from all his friends at Castleknock Celtic.

“We will observe a minute’s silence at all our schoolboys/girls games this weekend.”

The DDSL themselves said: “It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the sad passing of Fran Ray, our former Honorary Secretary and current Life Honorary President of the DDSL. Fran had been ill for the past number of years and succumbed to his illness at 1.55pm on Tuesday, with his loving family by his side.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Fran’s wife Sandra, his son Alan and daughter Lindsay and to all his immediate family members, from all in the DDSL and the wider schoolboy family.”

Ray’s service to football in Ireland spans many decades with his focus primarily on the development and growth of the underage game.

FAI General Manager Noel Mooney said: “We all knew Fran as the key person in growth of the Dublin and District Schoolboy League, which went on to become the biggest schoolboy league in Europe.

“His love of the beautiful game and his determination to grow football were clear. His work was always carried out in great spirit and with his sharp wit evident for all to see.

“He played a significant role also in the growth of football across our country through his many years representing the DDSL on a national level through the SFAI.

“Fran had been ill for some time and unfortunately today he left us, surrounded by his loving family. May he rest in peace.”

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Robbie Keane added: “I have have known Fran since I was a kid and he was such a great part of the DDSL for so many years. He was always a great friend of football and he was a true gentleman.

“He will be a big loss to Irish football”, said Keane.

Ireland Manager Mick McCarthy said: “I met Fran many times over the years, and I’ve always known of his great commitment to schoolboy football, not just in Dublin, but in Ireland.”

The FAI would like to offer our deepest condolences to Fran’s wife Sandra, his son Alan and daughter Lindsay, to all his immediate family members and to the Dublin and District Schoolboy League.

Speaking this afternoon, current SFAI Chairman John Earley said: “We are all deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Fran, he was a legend of the schoolboy game and he will be sadly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”

He continued: “His love of the schoolboy game in this country was obvious, his passion for the SFAI Kennedy Cup every year was clear, and his way with people, amongst all else, was what made him the giant of the game that he was.”