Down chairman Seamus Walsh spoke last night of the special affinity which exists between his county and Tyrone.
Walsh was among the first to contact his Red Hands counterpart Ciaran McLaughlin to express sympathy following the death of Michaela McAreavey and has since reflected on the support his own county received from Tyrone in relation to recent tragic events.
Walsh said: “We had the sudden death of 17-year-old Minor footballer Patrick Dinsmore last year while playing for his club Warrenpoint and then just a week before Christmas the mother of our county Allstar Danny Hughes died just four weeks after having been diagnosed with cancer.
“These were two heavy burdens for us to bear but we got great support from many sources especially Tyrone.”
And when Down staged the Golden Jubilee celebrations in the Slieve Donard Hotel Newcastle to mark the capture of the 1960 All-Ireland football title, Tyrone were among the counties to enthusiastically embrace their jubilations.
“I would have to say that we have a very strong bond with Tyrone. The marriage of Michaela Harte and John McAreavey was seen by us all in a sense as a further cementing of this bond but sadly we now find ourselves preparing for Michaela’s funeral,” added Walsh.
And he has pledged “every support” from the county board for the Harte and McAreavey families.
“Their pain is beyond comprehension. Words seem totally inadequate at a time like this. We all have families whom we cherish and to lose a loved one in such terrible circumstances defies belief,” said Walsh.
The Down link with Tyrone will be brought very much into focus once again next month when a combined Warrenpoint-Rostrevor side will take on a South Down team in a special match in memory of the late Patrick Dinsmore.
The game will go ahead at Moygannon, Warrenpoint with a 2pm throw-in and the proceeds will go to the Cormac Trust, the fund set up in Tyrone in the aftermath of the sudden death of Tyrone captain Cormac McAnallen six years ago.
Walsh said: “We feel that this is a very deserving cause to benefit from monies raised through this game.
“Cormac McAnallen, like Patrick Dinsmore and Michaela McAreavey, was an exceptional person. He set a great example for everyone with whom he came into contact.”