Belfast Telegraph

Stars pay tribute to GAA player and friend Charlene

By Brendan McDaid

Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle and Glee actor Damian McGinty have paid tribute to a Gaelic football player whose funeral will be held in Londonderry today.

Charlene Griffiths, a 27-year-old Irish school teacher from the Steelstown area, passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning at Altnagelvin Hospital following an eight-month battle with cancer.

Her sporting colleagues from Brian Og’s senior ladies team, which she captained up until her final match in April 2011, are today expected to form part of a guard of honour at her funeral in their blue and yellow jerseys.

She was engaged to be married to a local sports journalist.

Charlene was also a trampolining and cheerleading tutor and had taught at the bunscoil in Derry for the past three years.

She had been a student at Thornhill College and studied Irish at the University of Ulster in Coleraine.

Nadine Coyle tweeted two tributes over the weekend saying: “Devastated @ my friend #CharleneGriffiths passing. God rest her soul, she was taken away far too soon. Her family are an inspiration. Xx”

An earlier tweet stated: “Today is a very sad day for the family and friends of #CharleneGriffiths So shocked and saddened by this news. Life is so precious.”

Damian McGinty, who stars in hit US show Glee, also paid tribute on the social networking site.

He said: “Today we lost a great amazing person, proud to call her a friend. In her 20s.... too young. Life ain’t fair #CharleneGriffiths RIP xxx.”

Another friend wrote on Twitter: “Heaven has just gained the most stunning and intelligent angel of them all”.

James McGurk, who manages the senior ladies team at Brian Og’s, described Charlene as a “club stalwart”.

“She was involved in everything about the club from coaching to fundraising to organising. She was excellent in everything she put her hand to and she was the driving force behind a lot of things at the club.”

He said Charlene had complained to him of feeling unwell just weeks before she was diagnosed with cancer.

In a statement issued at the weekend, the management and players of the Brian Og’s club paid tribute to Charlene.

They said: “Charlene will be sorely missed, not only by her colleagues at CLG Bhriain Óg Baile Stíl, but also the GAA community.”

Charlene is survived by her parents Eugene and Majella, brother Eugene and sisters Michelle and Sinéad, and fiancé Simon Collins.

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