GAA in mourning after player Steven Deeney collapses and dies at training
The GAA fraternity is coming to terms with the sudden death of a popular player who had just returned from England to turn out for his home club
Steven Deeney (32), who played for Magilligan St Aidan's, collapsed during circuit training at Roe Valley Leisure Centre in Limavady, where he was working out with his team-mates.
He was given immediate medical assistance including CPR, and a defibrillator was also used by trained first aiders until paramedics arrived.
Despite their best efforts they failed to revive Mr Deeney, who had just returned to training after coming back to Magilligan from London where he had been working for the past year.
The father-of-one was the only son in a family of five children.
He was a St Aidan's stalwart and had been a member of the club for 25 years.
Results from the post-mortem carried out on Mr Deeney are expected to be revealed over the weekend.
While his parents Martin and Claire and sisters were too distraught to speak to the media, St Aidan's GAC spokesman Paul Gaile paid tribute to their valued player.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Gaile said: "Our first thought are with Steven's parents Martin and Claire, his sisters and his young son and we offer them our heartfelt condolences.
"We are all devastated by this terrible news and our club and Steven's team-mates have been left reeling by his death.
He was at training in the Roe Valley Leisure Centre when he collapsed suddenly.
"He was given immediate medical assistance by our trained first aiders as well as the leisure centre staff, and the paramedics arrived very quickly.
"But despite everyone's efforts, including the use of a defibrillator, nothing could save Steven.
"He was one of life's true gentlemen. He loved everything about the GAA and had been a member of our club from he was a young boy, playing for all our minor teams and then the senior team.
"Even when he was away in London working Steven kept in close contact with all his friends at the club and was delighted to be back with them again.
"So, understandably, they have been badly affected by this terrible tragedy.
"But as a club we will do everything we can to support them during this difficult time."
The club broke the news to the wider community through their Facebook page, where a statement was posted.
It read: "It's with deep shock and a heavy heavy heart that we, as a club, committee members, players and the entire community send on our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to the entire Deeney family on the passing of Steven. A father, son, and brother to them. And one of the Magilligan GAA group. May you rest in peace with God above. Chuid eile i siochain."
It was here that many people paid their own tributes and offered sympathy, among them Geraldine Burns, who wrote: "Very sad news, thoughts and prayers go to Steven's family and his little son all his team-mates. Lovely fella, may he rest in peace RIP Steven Deeney x."
Barry Neill added: "'Big Deeney' I'm in total shock, my thoughts and prayers go out to ur whole family and Saint Aidan's GAC Magilligan and to everyone who had the pleasure of meeting you!! Sleep tight big man."
Steven Deeney's sudden death is the latest in a number of similar tragedies to hit local sport.
Cormac McAnallen (24) was the captain of the Tyrone GAA team and also played hurling, golf, table tennis and soccer.
He died suddenly from a heart condition in March 2004.
John McCall (18) from Collone in Armagh collapsed and died while playing for the Ireland Under-19 rugby team against New Zealand in Durban, South Africa, in March 2004.
Patrick Dinsmore (17) from Newry died on the pitch while playing a match for St Peter's GAC Warrenpoint against St Bronagh's in August 2010.
Benjamin Robinson (14) collapsed during a school rugby match in Carrickfergus on January 2011 and died two hours later in hospital from the injuries he sustained on the pitch.