Belfast Telegraph

GAA death: Patrick should be celebrating birthday and exam results. Instead his family is in mourning

It was a birthday the teenager — and his family — were looking forward to.

Sadly, the Co Down family will not be celebrating this important milestone.

They will instead be trying to come to terms with their loss.

Patrick died on Sunday while taking part in a minors match against St Bronagh’s GAA club in Rostrevor.

The Warrenpoint Gaelic footballer, who played half back for St Peter’s, had only been on the field for 15 minutes when he suddenly collapsed.

A doctor and two nurses rushed to his aid and tried to save him but he could not be revived.

And while his heartbroken parents were too upset to speak yesterday, the teenager’s uncle paid tribute to his nephew, describing him as a gentle young man who loved his sport and will be missed by all who knew him.

“My family is just devastated,” Liam Dinsmore said.

“Yesterday we had a young man looking forward to his 17th birthday and to his O-level results. Today we have this tragedy.

“Patrick was always full of fun. He was good young man. He loved football, mountain biking and working part-time in a local business to earn extra pocket money, as kids do.

“He will be sorely missed by his parents Bernard and Deirdre, his sister Catherine, as well as his immediate family, two sets of grandparents and by his many friends.”

He added: “I think the shock is not just in my family, it has gone right through the club and the community. Everyone has rallied round and I am very, very thankful to them for that.

“The boys here at the club are a good bunch of lads and I know they are very upset, but I know they will all pull together.”

Yesterday Patrick’s friends and team-mates gathered at the club’s headquarters in Warrenpoint to try to come to terms with their grief.

Most of the young lads, who had known Patrick for several years, were at the match when he collapsed.

And while many were too distressed to speak, one friend, David Sloan, paid tribute to his mate.

He said: “He was quite a quiet person. He was also a lot of fun. I would have known him from football, we all hung around. I met him about seven or eight years ago. I have known him from under 10s right up through the years. It’s just a shock.”

The boy’s manager, Jim McAlinden, was just metres from the teenager when he collapsed.

He said Patrick had just gone onto the field and was by himself when he called out for help.

“He was actually standing beside me when he just turned round and said ‘Jimmy’ and then he just dropped,” Mr McAlinden said.

“I had his spray in my pocket — because he has asthma — he gives it to me before the games and I had it in my pocket.

“I thought he had taken an asthma attack because usually he would just shout to me and I would run over and he would take a couple of puffs from it. But this was not like that, he just turned and looked at me then dropped.”

He added: “I think all the boys are still in shock at the moment. It hasn’t sunk in. It’s the same for me.

“I have known him since he was a lad but I have got to know him over the last three years coaching him. He was one of our good players, so he was. He was one of the most quietest lads you could ever meet.

“I know when somebody dies people say that he was nice fella, but Patrick really was. There was nothing bad about the lad he just loved to play football. That’s all he lived for — to kick the ball.”

Fellow St Colman’s pupil Caolan Mooney (17), who plays for St Bronagh’s GAA Club, also paid tribute.

He said: “Anyone who knew Patrick would have known what he was like. He was so easy to get on with. He was pretty energetic and it’s just an absolute tragedy that he is gone.

“He had plenty of friends on both teams and for us to be there and watch what was happening, knowing that they couldn't do nothing to save him, it’s just terrible.”

A book of condolence has been set up at the St Peter’s GAA club headquarters on Mary Street and it is understood a funeral for Patrick will be held tomorrow.

His family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Cormac McAnallen Trust.

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