Northern Ireland news

NI man who died suddenly in Florida "adored being a father"

Conal McKee, who was from Dundrum in Co Down, died in Florida on Saturday morning
Marie Louise McConville

The brothers of a Co Down footballer who died suddenly in Florida has told of how his family have been left "devastated" by the loss.

Conal McKee, who was 26, died suddenly in Miami on Saturday morning.

The father-of-one, who was from Dundrum, had been in a coma in the West Boca Medical Centre since Friday, August 3.

Mr McKee had lived in the US for the past three years, initially living in New York before settling in Florida.

Before emigrating, he played full-back for Dundrum GAC, helping the club win the Down Junior Championship in 2012.

His parents still live in Dundrum and his brother Niall Rock plays for the village’s senior Gaelic football team.

Last night, an online fundraising page set up in aid of Conal, a former pupil of St Patrick’s Grammar School in Downpatrick, and his family, had reached almost $20,000.

Speaking to the Irish News yesterday, Conal's brother, Darrell described his sibling as someone who was "extremely popular" and a "person who everyone wanted to be around".

"He was easily the funniest person I ever knew and his sense of humour is something I know myself and Niall will really miss," he said.

"He could always make you laugh even when you didn't feel like laughing.

"He was a very brave person with an incredible sense of adventure. He would think nothing of travelling around the world on his own, and thrived on his ability to be so self reliant and capable".

The 33-year-old, who lives in Jonesborough, said his brother "adored being a father".

"It was only two weeks ago we were talking about the love he had for Danny and how he couldn't wait to do all the things that a dad does with his son," he said.

"His plans for the future all involved Kata and Danny. They were his life. He wanted to get a home of their own and have the normal family life.

"The whole family is devastated by his loss, it will be something that stays with us all forever".

Conal's other brother, Niall said he would remember the 26-year-old as a "role model"

"He was funny and energetic and always had a smile on his face," said the 18-year-old.

"His loves were playing sports, he was always really active and made sure to look after his overall health. He loved Gaelic football and soccer, both of us played for the same team".

Conal's remains are expected to arrive home in Ireland on Thursday.

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