Hundreds of mourners gathered in Magherafelt to pay their final respects to All Ireland GAA champion Colm McGurk when he was laid to rest yesterday.
Dozens of current and former players lined the road outside Our Lady of the Assumption Church on Saturday morning to form a guard of honour for the Gulladuff man who helped Derry claim the Sam Maguire in 1993.
That came two years after he won an All-Ireland club football title with his beloved Lavey. He also helped secure four Derry SFC titles and a remarkable 12 SHC titles along with a provincial senior medal in 2000.
Fr John Gates described how a sense of shock and disbelief gripped the community — including the world of GAA and architecture — after death came “like a thief in the night”. Mr McGurk died peacefully in intensive care at Antrim Area Hospital on July 12 surrounded by his family.
“None felt it more than his nearest and dearest,” mourners were told. “The death of someone we love is always difficult and painful and especially when the death is as unexpected as Colm’s, without much warning or preparation.
“We can only imagine how understandably robbed you Sinead, Orla, Aoife, Medb and John and all Colm’s family must feel at his passing. We can only guess at the sense of shock, disbelief, numbness, pain and loss which you feel at this time.”
The priest said they could rely on the prayers of all who knew and loved Colm as they endure the painful time to come.
While acknowledging the many precious memories many share of the family man’s sporting excellence, Fr Gates said Mr McGurk never let sporting success go to his head. “Colm was also a man of strong and deep faith, he knew that he was just flesh and blood like the rest of us,” he said.
“He was well aware that one day life would end and kept one eye firmly on another reality. On Tuesday past the final whistle blew, the match was over and Colm received the greatest trophy and most prestigious accolade of all. Eternal life — the call to be reunited with his Mum, Dad and Margaret.”
Mr McGurk was buried in St Mary’s Cemetery in the village following the Requiem Mass. A large cortége walked from Erin’s Own Lavey GAC Grounds to his final resting place.