Northern Ireland news

Co Derry road victim Ryan McCaul survived leukaemia and previous crash

Former Gaelic footballer Ryan McCaul was killed in a collision on the main Derry to Belfast road
Connla Young

THE man who died in a collision on the main Derry-Belfast road was a talented GAA player whose career was cut short after a crash over a decade ago.

Ryan McCaul, from Drum, near Dungiven, also survived leukaemia as a child and meningitis in later years.

The 31-year-old died after an accident involving his Audi car and a Transit van on the Foreglen Road at around 6.30am on Monday.

Three other people were treated for minor injuries.

The crash happened at a spot known locally as the ‘Black Bush’ near Dungiven and the busy route was closed for much of the day.

It is believed Mr McCaul had been making his way to work.

A talented sportsman, he played underage football for St Colm’s GAC, Drum and turned out for the senior team while still a minor.

However, his football career ended when he was involved in a road accident which resulted in serious injuries.

Weeks after the crash he lost most of his hearing, which partially returned after a cochlear implant.

Having survived leukaemia as a child, he again battled back to health and remained a familiar face at the grounds of the north Derry club.

He returned to training several years later but was forced to retire for good in 2010 after playing just one game.

It is understood Mr McCaul also suffered injuries during a motorcycle accident a number of years ago.

A lover of all sports, he played soccer for Burnfoot FC alongside his father Kieran and rugby for Limavady Grammar School.

He later attended St Patrick’s College in Maghera where he studied A-levels.

Mr McCaul also enjoyed running and took part in the 2014 New York marathon and last year’s Chicago marathon, raising money for a cancer charity.

His grieving family has a long association with Drum GAA club.

His father won four junior championship medals during a long playing career that included a final win in 2006 as a 42-year-old.

His uncle Eugene McCaul also won an All-Ireland minor medal with Derry in 1965, lining out in goals.

Tragically, Eugene was also killed in a road traffic accident.

Loreto Douglas, a former nun from Derry, died in a three-vehicle collision on the Glenshane Pass on November 23

St Colm's secretary Shane McCartney said Ryan had “undoubted strength of character”.

“No-one that knew him could ever question that,” he said.

“He had more setbacks in his 31 years than anyone could ever imagine one person to suffer; he fought incredibly hard all his days and lived a very full life.

“He always bore a smile and never lost his sense of fun and mischief.”

Mr McCaul is survived by his father Kieran, mother Edwina, sister Ciara and brother Rory.

His death was the second on the A6 within a fortnight, after Derry woman Loreto Douglas (64) was killed in a three-vehicle crash on the Glenshane Pass section on November 23.

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