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Tribute paid at funeral of tragic Tyrone GAA teenager

Priest tells of shock in community after footballer's sudden death

By Connla Young

Published 12/09/2007

The funeral of the Tyrone teenager who collapsed and died while playing Gaelic football last weekend was due to take place today.



Football fanatic Patrick Devlin died after collapsing during a game at the grounds of O'Donovan Rossa GAC, Ardboe, on Saturday morning.

A priest at his funeral today spoke of the shock felt by the local community at the 13-year-old's sudden death.

Mourners at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Ardboe, heard Father Seamus McGinley describe the tragic teenager as a "character".

Fr McGinley added: "Back in the sixties long before most of you here today were born, a popular folk group of the time, Simon and Garfunkel, had a hit song entitled The Sound of Silence. That song tells the story of how silence in its many various forms affects all of us.

"As the news of Patrick's death broke in the early afternoon of last Saturday, that same silence gripped us all, his family, team mates, club, school mates, community, county and much further a field," Fr McGinley said.

The priest referred to poignant tributes left by devastated friends on websites.

"In the silence there was something special emerging, it was the life story of "Baby Face," the title role that Patrick played in the Bugsy Malone play performed in Holy Trinity College in the recent past.

"As the Bebo messages started to build up on the internet one comes to mind that sums everything up for us and it goes: "A life is lost, a friend is gone, loved by all, forgotten by none.

"He's full of life, he was full of joy, we won't forget that special boy, he died doing what he loved, he didn't hate, he always loved."

Fr McGinley spoke of the loss felt by Patrick's parents, Francis and Paula and sister Seanis.

"Patrick was close to you as a son and to you Seanis a special brother.

"He will remain even closer to you through his spiritual presence.

"As the Gospel again reminds us about trusting in God, let us have confidence then that Christ will not only take care but will take special care of him in his eternal home."

A keen sportsman, Patrick died on the same day that 10-year-old Patrick Breen, who collapsed and died on a GAA field last week, was buried in Drumquin, County Tyrone.

A post mortem later showed that the Ardboe teenager died from a congenital heart defect.

The Tyrone tragedies, together with the deaths of two other teenagers in Westmeath last week, has prompted calls for all young athletes to be screened for possible hidden health problems.

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