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Death of popular Fermanagh hurling star Shane Mulholland rocks GAA community

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 27/04/2015

Fermanagh Hurler Shane Mulholland's wedding to Catherine Mulholland Ruddick
Fermanagh Hurler Shane Mulholland's wedding to Catherine Mulholland Ruddick

The tragic death of GAA hurler Shane Mulholland is the second major family loss to hit his young widow in just over a year.

The Co Fermanagh man died in a two-vehicle crash over the weekend and had supported his wife Vanessa when she lost her mother to cancer just weeks before they married last April.

The young couple from Derrylin were due to celebrate their first anniversary yesterday.

The Mulhollands planned to return to Sligo on Saturday where they held their wedding reception to celebrate their anniversary.

The night before, Mr Mulholland was tragically involved in a collision with another vehicle on the Lisnaskea Road at around 7pm.

They became parents to their daughter Aisling in February, having met in Liverpool while Mrs Mulholland was studying to become a nurse.

Mr Mulholland became the seventh person to die on Northern Ireland’s roads this month and the 19th this year.

Another adult and two children were taken to hospital following the crash but were discharged afterwards.

Derrylin parish priest Fr Fintan McKiernan spoke of the huge impact that the 27-year-old’s death has had on the community.

“There is just this silence over the place, even at mass today, people were still in a state of shock and grief,” said Fr McKiernan, who married the couple and recently baptised their daughter.

He paid tribute to the county hurler and GAA hurling development officer formerly from Loughguile, Co Antrim, as someone who had “integrated really well into the community”.

“Shane was a great lad, he was very well-liked and respected, very sociable and energetic,” said Fr McKiernan.

“Although he hadn’t lived too long in Derrylin, everybody knew him. He’s the type of man who could have talked and got on with people in any company. He had really built bridges with local people and got on well with everyone.

“I married him and Vanessa, whose family I would know very well, last year just a few weeks after her mother Chrissie Gilheaney died.

“Everyone had hoped that Chrissie would have lasted for the wedding but that wasn’t to be and unfortunately her loss overhung their wedding.”

He added: “Vanessa is quite a quiet girl who’s very close to her other two sisters but Shane had a big, gregarious personality.

“He was the type that cut a great swathe of fun and craic everywhere and she would have followed in his slipstream.”

Fr McKiernan said Mr Mulholland had taken great delight in becoming a father.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said: “Shane was a talented and energetic person who gave so much in life and his untimely passing will leave a deep void in the lives of those who were fortunate to know him.”

Mr Mulholland had just taken up the job of hurling development officer for the GAA in Co Cavan in January after having previously worked with Quinn Insurance.

He was also a senior hurler for Fermanagh and Lisbellaw Hurling Club. His remains were transferred back to his home in Derrylin from Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital yesterday.

His funeral will take place at St Ninnadh's Parish Church in Derrylin from 11am tomorrow when a massive turnout from the GAA fraternity is expected.

Club-mate Martin McBrien said: "Shane just had so much to offer our club. He was a man of immense talent, particularly in the field of hurling."

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