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Team-mates in tribute to tragic GAA star Brian Hearty

Club forms guard of honour at funeral of crash victim

By Mark Edwards

Heartbroken team-mates of a Co Armagh man who died in a car crash in the Republic formed a guard of honour as he was laid to rest yesterday.

Brian Hearty (26), from Silverbridge, was killed in a single car collision at around 12.20am last Sunday while travelling on the Dundalk to Castleblayney Road in County Louth.

He was the only occupant of the car.

It is understood Mr Hearty, known as Bob, had spent his 26th birthday on Saturday taking part in a charity truck run in Crossmaglen. His car hit a wall three miles outside Dundalk, at Rathmore, Kilkerley, and Mr Hearty was pronounced dead at the scene.

Members of the Silverbridge GAA club escorted Mr Hearty's coffin to St Patrick's Church in Crossmaglen yesterday as the shocked community came out to pay their respects.

Pupils from St Paul's High School, where Mr Hearty's mother Carmel is a classroom assistant, also attended the funeral.

Sinn Fein councillor Barra Ó Muirí, a neighbour and family friend, said he will be sorely missed.

He said: "There was a guard of honour of about 60 to 80 Silverbridge members. It really was breathtaking the effort the football club put into the funeral. The cortege left the house and made its way towards Crossmaglen and walked for about a quarter of a mile with the Silverbridge lads either side of him as they passed the club.

"It was a very well attended funeral, the biggest funeral I have seen in a long time.

"It is a testament to the kind of fella Bob was."

Mr Hearty, who had attended St Joseph's High School in Crossmaglen, was a talented sportsman, winning numerous awards in Gaelic football and golf.

He worked as a pump attendant at the family business Hearty Oils.

Silverbridge GAA postponed a game against Armagh Hearts on Sunday as a mark of respect.

Mr Ó Muirí added: "He had a very friendly, affable character about him and he always enjoyed the craic with the boys.

"He liked going to football matches. He was a normal guy.

"You would never have seen him without a smile on his face and he would never have fallen out with anyone.

"He was a good pleasant lad and he will be sorely missed."

Silverbridge GAA Club secretary Jarlath Burns, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph earlier this week, paid tribute to Mr Hearty saying it was "terrible tragedy for the whole neighbourhood and GAA". He said: "GAA is at the centre of this community and Brian was very much part of our club. The Hearty family is highly respected within the club.

"It is a tradition that they sponsor the under-14s. You would see them at all the games."

Mr Burns said Mr Hearty had a talent of "just making things happen" on the pitch.

"Not every player has that ability," he said.

Mr Burns added: "He went out on his birthday to do a good deed and then this happens."

Mr Hearty is survived by his parents Gerard and Carmel, his brothers Aidan and Conall, and his sister Geraldine.

Gardai have appealed for witnesses to the crash to contact Dundalk Garda station.

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