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‘Damian Casey would have been at the top of the list of your favourite people’ says late hurler’s club chairman

The chairman of Eoghan Ruadh hurling club has said while Damian Casey was renowned for his athletic ability, Dungannon’s communal grief “is about the person that he was”.

Mr Casey passed away following a tragic pool incident in Spain on Friday.

He had travelled there for a wedding at which he was to be groomsman.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster on Monday, his Dungannon hurling club chairman, Tony Donnelly said that “Damian Casey would’ve been justified for walking with his head in the clouds for everything that he has achieved, but he was the most humble lad that I know”.

“If you had to write a list of your five favourite people, even before all of this happened, Damian would have been at the top of that list. I was speaking to a couple of people over the last week before this tragedy happened, and Damian was the topic of conversation."

Mr Donnelly said he had been talking to former Tyrone GAA senior hurling manager Mattie Lennon, before Mr Casey had died.

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“Mattie said Damian would have walked onto any county team in Ireland, and so he would,” he continued.

"He made the game look easy and outside of that, he was a great worker for our club. He was on the committee and would have been very hands on helping out.”

“I know people say this, when people pass away, and you’re thinking ‘this is just more of the same’, but I wish your listeners could actually have met this guy because he was special. He was an icon of our club and we really will miss him very much."

The club held a vigil for the 28-year-old on Sunday evening. The Casey family had requested that everyone wore GAA jerseys to mark Mr Casey’s love for Gaelic games.

Also on the programme was Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP, Michelle Gildernew, who knew Mr Casey personally.

She said his family await the results of a post-mortem into his death.

Ms Gildernew also attended the vigil and said that while everyone was broken-hearted, “we were all broken-hearted together”.

"The GAA is one big family and all weekend, we’ve seen minutes’ silences happen right across Ireland.

"To know that a country is grieving, not just a town or a community. A country is grieving for this prolific hurler, this exceptional young man.”

Mr Casey scored 14 points for Tyrone in last month's Nicky Rackard Cup victory over Roscommon at Croke Park.

He captained the county to Nicky Rackard success in 2014.

After joining the senior inter-county set-up a decade ago, he has tallied 39 goals and 894 points in both the league and championship.

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