Belfast Telegraph

Tragic Niall O'Hanlon's sister tells mourners 'amazing brother will be forever young'

Sister's moving farewell tribute as footballer (25) is buried in Liverpool shirt

By Cate McCurry

The sister of a Co Down footballer who died after being hit by a car has paid tribute to her "amazing" brother.

Niall O'Hanlon was described as the "heart of Magheralin" by his devastated sister Shauneen. The 25-year-old was killed on Friday night just before he was set to leave on a trip to England to watch his beloved Liverpool FC.

He was struck by a Skoda Octavia on the New Forge Road, close to the Steps Road junction.

Hundreds of mourners lined the streets of his home village as his funeral took place at St Patrick's and Ronan's Church.

The talented sportsman was buried in a Liverpool top his father had bought him the day before his tragic death.

Niall's sister Shauneen paid tribute to him hours before his funeral.

She posted on social media: "Never did I think I would be saying goodbye to you this early Niall.

"You were and still are the most amazing brother and you will always be the heart of Magheralin.

"You were always so overprotective with me, but that is one out of many things that I loved about you.

"There was never a dull moment and I am so blessed to have shared so many amazing memories with you and to be called your sister," she added.

"You are going to get the best send off today my love because there's no one that deserves it more than you.

"Cannot thank anyone enough for the support everyone has give me and my family.

"You will be forever young."

His uncle Michael Breen told the Liverpool Echo that Niall was coming to the city to watch his favourite team play Brighton on Sunday.

Mr Breen (67) said: "He was coming over to my house to go to Anfield on Sunday. The night before his dad had bought him a new Liverpool top to go to the match and he will be buried in that."

The young lorry driver played for Magheralin Village Football Club.

In a heartfelt tribute, the club said: "It's been said that only the good die young but it doesn't ease the pain.

"Niall was the apple of our club's eye. He was our wing wizard. The heartbeat of our team.

"Niall always had a joke to crack, a laugh to roar out. His infectious bubbly personality was the reason everyone who knew him considered him a friend."

A memorial banner was unveiled in his home village yesterday before his funeral.

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