Tributes paid to much loved ‘gentleman’ GAA player

The late Steven Deeney who played for Saint Aidan's, Magilligan GAC.  INLV0415-251KDR

The late Steven Deeney who played for Saint Aidan's, Magilligan GAC. INLV0415-251KDR

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Magilligan GAC has paid a heartfelt tribute to their player Steven Deeney who tragically died on Thursday night during training, describing him as “a gentleman”.

The 33-year-old was in Limavady’s Roe Valley Leisure Centre training with team mates when he collapsed at around 9pm.

Flag flying at half mast at St Aidans GAC as a mark of respect for Steven Deeney. INLV0415-256KDR

Flag flying at half mast at St Aidans GAC as a mark of respect for Steven Deeney. INLV0415-256KDR

Saint Aidan’s Club chairman, Peter Mullan said the club and entire Magilligan community was in deep shock at the death of the young father-of-one, who was a brick layer by trade.

“We are totally shocked,” Mr Mullan told the ‘Journal’. “Steven was the heart and soul of the club, and he was very active in anything that was going on in the club.

“He was a delight to have around and he was just full of life. It’s a great loss to the club and to everyone. He was a much loved and respected club member, and Steven will be sadly missed.”

Mr Mullan said on behalf of the club, whose flag flew at half mast on Friday, he offered sincere condolences to Steven’s family, his friends, team mates and the entire St Aidan’s family.

Magilligan man, Paul Gaile is an ex-chairman of Saint Aidan’s GAC, and has known Steven “all my life”. He said people were stunned, and said Steven was well thought of by everyone.

“The staff at the Leisure Centre and the paramedics did everything that could be done, but unfortunately it didn’t work out and Steven’s untimely death has devastated us all,” Mr Gaile told the ‘Journal’.

“I’ve known Steven all my life and he really was a genuine gentleman to work with. No matter what you would have asked him to do, he would do it. He was in England for a while with the building trade, but he would always come home and go to matches. The club was his life, and he was a big part of the club. It’s heartbreaking, but the name Steven Deeney will always be fondly remembered in Magilligan. He will be sorely missed.”

Mr Gaile had high praise for Limavady Council staff, paramedics and hospital staff who he said did everything they could to save Steven. Mr Gaile also thanked local priests, Fr. Frank O’Hagan and Fr. James Devine for comforting those who were with Steven.

The Club’s Facebook page has been flooded with tributes expressing sadness and condolences, from people who knew Steven and from other GAA clubs.

One post read: “Condolences to all the Deeney family and friends. Rip Steven you were a gentleman.”

Derry GAA also paid their condolences, stating: “The Derry GAA community is shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic and untimely death of St Aidan’s GAA, Magilligan, player and member, Steven Deeney. Our deepest sympathies go to the Deeney family and all at Magilligan GAA.”

Limavady Borough Council Chief Executive Liam Flanigan said what happened was a “terrible tragedy” and, on behalf of all Council staff, he extended deep condolences.

“At approximately 9pm last night (Thursday) a 33-year-old man collapsed while involved in training with his sports club in Roe Valley Leisure Centre. The staff responded immediately by applying their First Aid training and summoned paramedics who arrived within 5 minutes of the incident.”

After being taken to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, a spokesperson said: “Limavady Borough Council was subsequently informed that unfortunately the young man had passed away. We would like to extend our sympathies to the young man’s family circle and friends.”