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NI ace Niall McGinn pays tribute to tragic pal Johnny Curran

Shock at sportsman's sudden death


Johnny Curran

Johnny Curran

Johnny Curran

Northern Ireland football star Niall McGinn has paid tribute to fellow sportsman and pal Johnny Curran who died last weekend.

The 33-year-old former Tyrone goalkeeper, who lived in Donaghmore where Niall also hails from, passed away after suddenly taking ill early on Sunday.

The popular father-of-two was part of the Tyrone GAA team that won the 2004 All-Ireland minor championship, and part of the 2008 senior squad that beat Kerry to lift the Sam Maguire.

He also played football for Dungannon Swifts, featuring in an Irish Cup semi-final in 2012.

Niall, also 33, played for Donaghmore GAC against Johnny and for Tyrone's minor side alongside the popular goalkeeper.

The Aberdeen footballer's sister also worked in his late friend's barber shop, J's in Dungannon, and he revealed the shock he and his family felt when they received the news.

He said: "I knew Johnny, I played gaelic football against him when we were young and he was in the Tyrone minors team with me.

"He was a very bubbly character, a Coalisland man through and through, and we always spoke when we saw each other.

"My sister has worked in his hairdressing salon for the last two years and would have spent a lot of time in his house with the kids.

"She is in shock, as we all are. It's very, very sad and my heart goes out to his family at such a difficult time."

During the week Mr Curran's devastated partner described how he meant "everything" to her.

In an emotional interview, Clodagh Daly said Johnny's family and loved ones are "distraught" at his passing, with their two sons, Neasan (8) and Darsai (4) just "broken" at the loss of their father.

"We're just completely broken into pieces. The boys are just broken and everyone's just completely gobsmacked that he's gone. He was just the best person to everybody," she said.

"He did everything for everybody, no matter who they were. He would never have said no to anybody. The smile on his face all the time - he was the happiest person in the world."

She continued: "He just loved life and lived life to the best. He just adored us three. He told us every day how much he loved us, how happy he was.

"The oldest boy, Neasan, is just very upset, he's coming to me; 'I miss Daddy too, but I'm going to be strong for you, Mummy'."


Niall McGinn

Niall McGinn

Niall McGinn

She recalled the devastating moment when her partner became unwell at their home, revealing how he had just checked on his sons before returning to their bedroom.

"He just came into bed and he put his foot over and rubbed my foot and then his breathing was very, very bad and I jumped out of bed to get him around, and rang the ambulance within seconds of it happening," she added.

"Then that was just it, there was no coming back from it."

The 28-year-old explained that it has emerged that Johnny had artery disease, a condition which had been underlying and had gone undiagnosed.

"We don't know how long he had it but it's just been an underlying issue which has never been brought to our attention. It was never suspected at all," she said.

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