Tribute to efforts of 999 staff as Kevin King laid to rest
The mum and dad of a young GAA player who died suddenly last week have drawn comfort from the knowledge that every effort possible was made to try and save his life.
More than 1,000 mourners joined Kevin King's parents John and Margaret and his brother Martin at St Mary's Church, Tamnaherin, for Requiem Mass.
Fr Noel McDermott told those gathered that the family had drawn comfort from the huge numbers who came to their home to pay their respects after Kevin's passing.
The 22-year-old collapsed on Thursday evening while playing indoor football and was pronounced dead a short time later at Altnagelvin Hospital despite the valiant efforts of ambulance and A&E staff.
Through Fr McDermott, the deceased man's parents expressed their "deep appreciation" for the prompt attention their son received, adding: "There is great comfort in knowing that everything that could have been done was done."
Kevin was a rising star for St Mary's GAC in Slaughtmanus, and club members turned out in force for the funeral.
Wearing black armbands emblazoned with the club crest, members formed a guard of honour outside the church and acted as pallbearers as the coffin was carried from Kevin's home in Ervey.
The cortege halted briefly as it passed the St Mary's pitch, where the club's flags were flying at half-mast. Kevin hadn't played for St Mary's since May after collapsing during a match and being rushed to hospital.
Since then he had been undergoing a number of medical tests, and had been "worried about his health and its implications for his career as a footballer".
Fr McDermott told the packed church he could not begin to imagine "what life will be like for Kevin's family and close friends as they begin to pick up the pieces of their lives that have been shattered by his sudden death".
He added: "I think each of us has been reminded of how uncertain and fragile life can be."
Fr McDermott reminded Kevin's parents that they had brought him to St Mary's 22 years ago to be baptised, and it was then that they said a prayer to thank God for the gift of Kevin.
He said: "Since last Thursday John and Margaret have come to realise how Kevin was such a gift to so many other people as well, as they witnessed the huge outpouring of sadness and grief, of love and kindness, of disbelief and shock as the news of Kevin's untimely death spread throughout the parish and far beyond its boundaries."
The priest said that while Kevin was an "amazing" football player, it was not his sole talent.
He explained: "Football was not Kevin's only gift. God also gifted him with a kindly, thoughtful nature, with an ability to get to know people and make friends with them, with an unassuming personality, with a lovely sense of his own worth that allowed him to treat everyone with courtesy and respect and to look out for anyone who might be feeling excluded or left out."
Kevin was was laid to rest in the adjoining graveyard of St Mary's.