Belfast Telegraph

GAA players bid emotional farewell to slain team-mate James Hughes

GAA players in the border town of Crossmaglen led an emotional farewell to a murdered team-mate yesterday.

Huge crowds in south Armagh followed the funeral cortege of James Hughes (35) who was shot dead in Dundalk in the early hours of Sunday.

Members of the Crossmaglen Rangers team carried the coffin of the man who had won three all-Ireland medals with the club, as his grief-stricken relatives made the short journey from his family home to St Patrick's Church.

Mourners heard the former gaelic footballer praised as a valued member of the community whose life had been cut short.

Parish priest Fr Joseph McKeever told the midday Requiem Mass that it would be wrong to engage in recrimination in the wake of the death of a person who was loved by so many “and loved also by many of us who knew him as a friend with the highest quality”.

Fr McKeever added that Mr Hughes was “a friend whose open-heartedness, kindness, cheer and good nature made many blessed to have his friendship”.

“It made us, in a way, privileged to have known him and to have had him as a beacon of hope and joy in our own lives.”

He said no act of violence could ever extinguish the murdered man's soul, adding: “Today, as we honour James's memory and pray for our community in these dark days, we must also, it must be said, pray that none of us will dishonour that precious memory with thoughts or words of recrimination or incitement.”

He said those who knew Mr Hughes remembered a warm and helpful person.

“They know that, as fiercely competitive as he was when he donned the Cross' jersey, in his social life, and in his attitude and treatment of others off the field, he preferred harmony and helpfulness, building people up with the sheer force of his wonderful personality and his warm character.”

Armagh county GAA star and Crossmaglen Rangers veteran Oisin McConville also addressed mourners in a brief tribute to his friend.

Earlier this week Shane Rogers (32) of Deery Terrace, Inniskeen, Co Monaghan, was charged with the murder.

Mr Hughes was gunned down in a taxi at Cluain Ard, Lis na Mara estate in Dundalk, Co Louth.

His friend Patricia Byrne and the taxi driver Anthony Callan were injured in the attack.

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