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Young GAA star drowns in canal hours after famous win

A GAA fan who drowned after watching his county win an All-Ireland semi-final had all of the characteristics his heroes had shown on the field hours earlier, his club said last night.

Andrew Duffy (24) had travelled to Croke Park on Sunday with club colleagues to watch Donegal beat Cork in the senior football championship.

He stayed in the capital after the match to celebrate the victory with a friend, who is a nephew of former Fianna Fail Sports Minister Jim McDaid, rather than return home on the club bus.

Gardai said last night that the two men were returning to digs at around 11.40pm and sat down on a wall at Binns Bridge, which spans the Royal Canal, at Drumcondra, on the northside of the city.

Mr Duffy, of Termon, Co Donegal, then climbed on to a pipe running by the side of the bridge across the canal but slipped into the water. The emergency services were called and Mr Duffy was pulled from the canal around midnight.

He was rushed by ambulance to the Mater Hospital but pronounced dead at 12.45am.

Mr Duffy had played Gaelic football for his village's junior team, and had won All-Ireland honours earlier this season.

"If you had to pick one person to embody all the positive things in Termon GAA club, Andrew Duffy would have been that person," said club spokesman Hugh Harkin.

"Andrew represented the club at all age groups and was part of a very successful minor team which won county honours, but it was at senior level that Andrew excelled

"Andrew won reserve player of the year in 2010 and made the breakthrough to being a regular starter for our senior team this season.

"Indeed, Andrew was the holder of his own All-Ireland medal having played a significant role in Termon winning the All-Ireland Junior Gaeltacht title earlier this year."

Mr Harkin said the club was rallying around the Duffy family, adding: "While scant consolation now, the last game of Gaelic football which Andrew saw between Donegal and Cork was one in which so many of the characteristics he himself brought to the game were on show: courage, skill, honesty and work rate were all evident in Croke Park and were always on display when Andrew wore the club colours."

Former sports minister Jim McDaid was the dead man's GP and knew him well.

Dr McDaid's nephew Stephen was with Mr Duffy when the accident happened.

"It was one of the greatest ever displays by a Donegal GAA team and for this to happen afterwards is so tragic," said Dr McDaid.

"The family are devastated; they are good people and Andrew's death has left everyone stunned," said Dr McDaid.

Two of the Donegal players expressed their sympathy to the Duffy family via Twitter.

Neil Gallagher, man of the match against Cork on Sunday, tweeted: "Very sorry to hear the sad news about Andrew Duffy from Termon who was up supporting us. For that tragedy to happen is terrible RIP."

It was a tribute echoed by team-mate Paddy McBrearty who also took the social network to say: "So sad to hear the news of a Donegal fan drowning in Dublin. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time."

Gardai say the incident was a "tragic accident".

Belfast Telegraph