Fam­ily and clubs dev­as­tated af­ter river search finds GAA player’s body

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY GIL­LIAN HAL­L­I­DAY

TRIB­UTES have been paid to a tal­ented GAA player from Co Lon­don­derry af­ter a body was re­cov­ered from the River Foyle yes­ter­day.

Aod­han O’Don­nell (19) had been miss­ing since last Sun­day evening and re­ports that a man had been spot­ted en­ter­ing the river sparked a wide-scale miss­ing per­son search by his loved ones.

The search was called off yes­ter­day after­noon af­ter a rescue crew was tasked with re­cov­er­ing a body from the river by the PSNI.

At the time of go­ing to press the body had yet to be for­mally iden­ti­fied.

How­ever, PSNI Foyle said that the death was not be­ing treated as sus­pi­cious.

The po­lice also thanked two row­ers — who had been out on the water that morn­ing — on Face­book for their as­sis­tance in the re­cov­ery op­er­a­tion.

Less than 24 hours ear­lier fam­ily mem­bers and friends had at­tended a vigil at the Foyle river­side on Thurs­day evening.

Mr O’Don­nell is sur­vived by his par­ents Gerry and Moira and sib­lings Sean and Ciara.

It is un­der­stood the in­ter-county hurler would have

Tal­ented: Aod­han O’Don­nell

cel­e­brated his 20th birth­day on Tues­day.

Mr O’Don­nell’s clubs, Derry GAA and Na Magha CLG, said in sep­a­rate state­ments yes­ter­day that they had been left dev­as­tated by the news.

“Aod­han was a much val­ued team-mate and hurler at both club and county level and will be greatly missed,” said Derry GAA.

“The thoughts and prayers of ev­ery­one con­nected with Derry GAA are with Aod­han’s fam­ily, friends and club mem­bers at this dif­fi­cult time.”

Na Magha CLG thanked the pub­lic for its help with the searches which had taken place daily since Mr O’Don­nell had been re­ported miss­ing.

“The club and O’Don­nell fam­ily would like to thank ev­ery­one for the over­whelm­ing sup­port in what has been a very chal­leng­ing week,” it said, adding fu­neral ar­range­ments will be re­leased in the com­ing days.

Fel­low north west GAA club Eoghain Rua, based in Col­eraine, also of­fered its sym­pa­thy to the fam­ily and Mr O’Don­nell’s re­spec­tive clubs, say­ing via Twit­ter: “Our prayers are with you all at this time.”

Mean­while, a GAA club in Co Tyrone is ral­ly­ing round the loved ones of a for­mer player who is un­der­stood to be in a se­ri­ous con­di­tion in hos­pi­tal.

St Enda’s GAA in Omagh held a prayer vigil for Barry Ec­cles in its clu­b­rooms last night. The club said on its Face­book page that there had been an “out­pour­ing of good­will and kind mes­sages from peo­ple across the world” in sup­port of Mr Ec­cles, who the club said “re­mains crit­i­cally ill”.

It added it de­cided to in­vite club mem­bers, fam­ily and friends to the vigil be­cause “in times of dif­fi­culty we all need the sup­port of our friends”.

A St Enda’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive de­clined to com­ment fur­ther on the cir­cum­stances when con­tacted by the Belfast Tele­graph yes­ter­day.

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