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Ex-Tyrone GAA player Barry Eccles was 'exceptional player, leader and friend'

Barry Eccles, and right, playing for Omagh St Enda's GAA club
Brendan Hughes

AN EX-TYRONE GAA footballer who has died has been fondly remembered as an "exceptional player, leader and friend".

Barry Eccles, from Cookstown, died on Tuesday and will be laid to rest later today.

The father-of-three, who was aged in his early forties, had been in hospital for some weeks after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

His death has been met with an outpouring of grief and many messages posted online paying tribute.

Mr Eccles, who grew up in Omagh, had played at senior level for Omagh St Enda's GAA club as well as Tyrone in the late 1990s.

On his debut for Tyrone in the national football league in 1997 against Wexford, he scored 2-4.

In a tribute yesterday, Tyrone GAA said his county career was "perhaps not fully fulfilled" but described him as a "committed club player".

"Barry was an exceptional player, leader and friend whose humour and outright decency will be sorely missed in Omagh, Tyrone and further afield by all who had the privilege of crossing his path," they said.

Omagh St Enda's GAA club expressed their sympathies with Mr Eccles's family, describing his death as "heartbreaking" and fondly remembering him as a "dear friend".

One friend on Facebook described Mr Eccles as "quite possibly the nicest man I've ever met" who was "always smiling and always having the craic".

Mr Eccles is survived by his wife Tracey, and children Ryan, Katie and Sophie.

His Requiem Mass will take place today at 11.30am at Holy Trinity Church, Cookstown, with burial afterwards in Forthill cemetery.

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