Belfast Telegraph

Tragic Ronan McGavigan's big brother pays tribute at football match as toddler's body arrives home

By Donna Deeney

The big brother of a toddler who died after being struck by a car while playing wore a black armband in memory of his sibling at a football competition yesterday.

Dylan McGavigan paid the tribute as the body of Ronan McGavigan (2) was brought to his home in Londonderry.

Hundreds of people are expected to pay their respects as Ronan's mother and father, Laura and John, try to come to terms with their overwhelming grief at the loss of their youngest child.

Ronan's body will be taken from his home at Lone Moor Road - also the scene of the tragedy that ended his short life - tomorrow morning for a Mass of the Angels at 11am in St Columb's Church.

A minute's silence was held as a mark of respect before an under-12 football match between Derry Colts and Ballymoney, who are taking part in this year's Foyle Cup tournament.

Ronan's brother Dylan, who plays for Derry Colts, decided with his parents' blessing that he wanted to go ahead and take part in the game.

Team manager Raymond Soal said: "Dylan wanted to play and we obviously accommodated that.

"We held a minute's silence before the match began, and our players wore black armbands.

"As a team, we would like to publicly offer our deepest condolences to the entire family at this sad time."

The little boy's parents were too upset to speak to reporters, but a source close to the family said having Ronan with them again was helping them to come to terms with their loss.

"Ronan was a wee boy, full of beans and full of mischief, and what started as a game with his sister and brothers ended in the worst way possible in front of his mummy," the source added.

"Ronan was throwing his ball over the garden wall and laughing every time his sister went and brought it back, but Laura saw what they were doing and banged on the upstairs window for them to stop.

"She went straight out to them, but the wee boy climbed over the wall and ran onto the road before his mummy could reach him. It is just every parent's nightmare and I think Laura and John are on auto-pilot.

"They just can't take in fully what has happened.

"Ronan was always full of devilment. Laura was getting him a passport before they all went on holiday. She had to get her own replaced because Ronan chewed hers, but she said she couldn't scold him because he was just that kind of wee boy."

Local priest Fr Eamon Graham, who has been supporting the family as they come to terms with the tragedy, said they were devastated and were going through the one thing that all parents dread.

He added that Ronan's mum and dad had told him their little boy had completely turned their lives around.

"They said he was full of devilment, that you couldn't get the better of him, and even if his mummy chastised him, he would turn around and say 'I love you' and disarm her completely," the priest explained.

"He was a typical two-year-old - full of life, full of goodness and full of joy.

"I would urge everyone to keep the family in their thoughts and prayers, and just be as supportive as they can - not just now, but in the days and weeks to come as this will be a long struggle for them."

A fundraising page has been set up online to help the McGavigan family with any expenses they face during this heartbreaking time. One of the first to donate was Republic of Ireland international James McClean and his wife Erin. More than £3,200 has already been raised.

To donate money to the fundraising drive,

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