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Fionntan McGarvey ‘lit up the sky with his smile’, funeral of tragic GAA player told

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Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 24th January 2022 Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 24th January 2022 Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 24/01/2021 Family and Friends during the Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue on Monday. Mr McGarvey who was talented athlete passed away in hospital following injuries he sustained during an incident outside licensed premises in the Finaghy Road North area of Belfast in the early hours of Monday, December 27. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 24th January 2022 Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 24th January 2022 Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

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Funeral of Fionntan McGarvey at St Brigid’s Church, south Belfast. The 18-year-old died last week in the Royal Victoria Hospital where he had been since being the victim of a series assault at the end of December. Police have since launched a murder investigation. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The funeral of south Belfast teenager Fionntan McGarvey has heard how he “lit up the sky with his big smile, his love and his friendship, with his talent and sportsmanship.”

Police have launched a murder investigation after the 18-year-old passed away last Thursday in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

He died as a result of injuries sustained in an incident outside the Devenish Complex on Finaghy Road North in Belfast in the early hours of December 27.

A message from the McGarvey family, read at Fionntan's funeral at St Brigid’s Parish Church in Belfast, told mourners “he was a precious child, a beautiful boy who became a remarkable young man. Our hearts are just broken.”

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Fionntan McGarvey - Photo courtesy of Aquinas FC Junior Section

Fionntan McGarvey - Photo courtesy of Aquinas FC Junior Section

Fionntan McGarvey - Photo courtesy of Aquinas FC Junior Section

Those gathered for Requiem Mass were told that a brass plaque on Fionntan’s coffin bore the words in Irish ‘Praise the young and they will flourish”, the motto of his GAA club at St Brigid’s.

"To parents, teachers and coaches everywhere, keep your children close to you,” the McGarvey family said.

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"But at the same time give them the space to flourish. Listen to them and learn from them, and most of all encourage them at every opportunity. They have so much to give to the world. Fionntan gave so much to the world.”

Fr Eddie O’Donnell told mourners that words were hard to find to describe the grief.

“What words might bring a glimmer of light into the darkness of this family’s grief, and be of some consolation to Fionntan’s heartbroken parents, Lorcan and Aveen, and his brothers, Caolin and Daire, and his sister, Sorcha, or comfort his grandparents, Harry and Joan, and Mona?” he said.

Mr McGarvey was a student at Queen’s University Belfast. A talented sportsman, he played for both St Brigid’s GAC in south Belfast and Queen’s and was a footballer with Aquinas FC.

“There are those who say that when a person dies a star falls from the sky,” said Fr O’Donnell.

“A falling star is a wonderful sight. For a moment it holds our attention and then it is gone. Such was Fionntan. For too short a while he lit our sky with his big smile, his love and his friendship, with his talent and sportsmanship,” the priest continued.

“Today, we feel bereft now that the star has fallen, yet is it not true to say that we have been enriched by knowing him, as a son, as a brother, as a friend, as a teammate?

“To all our young people here I offer these few words: friendship is a wonderful facet of love.

“Fionntan was your friend; that friendship, in your youthful enthusiasm for life, you took for granted, and rightly so. But, as a poet once observed, ‘love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation’.

“A loving friendship is the most wonderful thing in the world. That, more than anything else, makes us truly human, that alone Jesus placed at the heart of our faith, everything else is secondary.

“But he also taught us that there are times when we pay a heavy price for love,” he said.

“Yet, even in the sadness of this day, if we find the renewed sense, that in the end, love and friendship are our most valued possessions, then Fionntan has left us an amazing gift. He blessed us with his friendship; with gratitude, we will forever hold his memory dear.”

Fionntan’s parents, Lorcan and Aveen, said they would take comfort that his wish to donate his organs will provide other families with hope at their “time of deep loss” and thanked the Royal Victoria Hospital and the NI Organ Donation Service for their help through “a terribly difficult time.”

A 21-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder has since been released on bail pending further police enquiries.


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