Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland hockey stunned following death of Philip Duke

By Staff Reporter

Ulster and Irish hockey have been left stunned by the sudden passing of one of its stalwarts, Philip Duke, at the age of 56.

Just last week 'Dukie' - as he was known affectionately to his many friends - was living life to the full, socialising and dancing as he celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Belfast Harlequins men's club at a dinner in their Deramore Park clubhouse.

But a fall at his south Belfast home last week has robbed his club, Ulster Hockey and Hockey Ireland of a hardworking volunteer.

Many will recall him as a lethal goalscorer in his younger day with Collegians - as his club was called then - and it was a talent that didn't leave him, for he came out of retirement last month to score twice against Down in a junior game.

But he wasn't only a player, as Philip went on to become a highly respected senior umpire, coach, mentor, tournament judge and trusted administrator.

He also took on roles as a team manager, not only at various levels in Ulster but more recently in Valencia with the Ireland Under-21 men's team.

And he helped in the organisation and running of the successful World Hockey League 2 tournament hosted in Belfast back in March.

In his early days he came through Inchmarlo Prep, then RBAI for a short period, and Methodist College Belfast, and apart from his academic success, he excelled in sports - not only in his beloved hockey but also at cricket and tennis, where he represented Ulster at schools level.

He continued his hockey and cricket careers with Collegians at Deramore Park and remained a valued club member when they changed their name to Belfast Harlequins in 2000.

He also enjoyed playing golf and swimming, but hockey was his real love, even when he stepped down from the higher levels of the game.

He believed the sport was not only to be seen as competitive, but also as a social family, and he organised many trips around Ireland for mixed hockey summer tournaments.

Dukie was a professional in everything he did - he was dedicated to his newspaper and magazine business for 20 years, working for Menzies in Belfast before adapting to a changing market in the internet age.

He later set up his own business, allowing him to invest more time in his second biggest hobby, travelling. Those who knew him best shared trips to Canada, Amsterdam, Dubai, Las Vegas and the Far East, where he was always relaxed, outgoing and had a surprise up his sleeve to make the trip extra special.

Many would also have been unaware of his contribution to blood and platelet donation at Belfast City Hospital's haematology unit, where many patients would have benefited thanks to his thoughtfulness.

He contributed over 250 times, receiving a presentation of a special award and certificate ceremony to recognise the milestone.

But what he will be remembered for was that he was infectious in his nature and influenced so many, particularly in the hockey community, in a positive way.

His smile and his humour will be sadly missed.

As details of a post-mortem are awaited, it is expected his funeral will be held in St Bartholomew's Church, Stranmillis, Belfast, on Monday, October 16, although this will be confirmed later.

Belfast Telegraph

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