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Tyrone grieves after second GAA boy dies

Community left stunned after Ardboe teen collapses on pitch

By Stephen Breen

The grief-stricken county of Tyrone was last night struggling to come to terms with the sudden death of a second young GAA star.

Patrick Devlin, from the close-knit community of Ardboe, collapsed during training with the O'Donovan Rossa club at the same time as 10-year-old Patrick Breen was being laid to rest.

The 13-year-old, who had a history of heart problems, was rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead on Saturday afternoon.

A post mortem examination on the teenager, who was a pupil at St Mary's in Magherafelt, was last night being conducted to establish the cause of his death.

Patrick's funeral is expected to take place later this week.

The schoolboy's heartbroken parents, Francie and Paula, were too upset to speak about their loss.

The Ardboe club is also providing counselling to its young players.

Shocked club official Neil Coney spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about his attempts to resuscitate Patrick using a defibrillator donated by the Cormac McAnallen Trust.

Mr Coney said: "To see a young lad lying there in front of his wee friends, words really can't describe it. The boys were very distressed.

"This has left everyone at the club in complete shock. You just don't expect something like this to happen to a young fella. For this type of thing to happen twice in a week is just terrible."

Club secretary Ciaran Devlin said the entire area was in "complete shock " at the latest death on a GAA pitch.

He added: "We are all struggling to come to terms with this news. It's hard to believe this has happened just a number of days after Patrick Breen's death.

"Patrick just wanted to be like any other child and just loved playing for his club like other members of his family over the years."

Local SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone expressed his sympathies to the family, adding: "I know the family well and they are very respected in this community. This is terrible news.

"The family must be in an awful state and this has been a very sad week for the people of Tyrone and the whole GAA fraternity."

Last week's tragic deaths, including two in Westmeath, has led to renewed calls for all young sports stars to be screened for heart problems.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Danny Murphy of the GAA's Ulster Council and Cormac McAnallen's father, Brendan, insisted screening of young people should be considered to help prevent more tragedies.

The calls were made after hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their final respects to Patrick Breen at St Patrick's Church in Dregish.

Parish priest Fr Colm O'Doherty told mourners they had lost a "bright star".

"To see his empty chair in the classroom these last few days brings home to all of us associated with the school family that a bright star that has given us so much light over the past few years will be sorely missed," he said.

"Our sense of loss is nothing compared to the loss the Breen family are experiencing."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph