Northern Ireland news

GAA clubs and officials to attend funeral of John O'Reilly

John O'Reilly died on Tuesday

THE former chairman of the GAA's Ulster Council, who died following an assault in a hospital care ward, has been remembered as a "true Gael".

John O’Reilly (83) was attacked while a patient at the Gillis Memory Centre in Armagh.

Hundreds of mourners including high profile GAA officials and representatives of county clubs are expected to attend his funeral today.

Well-known and respected in GAA circles, it is alleged he was assaulted by another male patient in the 24-bed ward for people with dementia.

The father-of-seven, a former player and chairman of Crossmaglen Rangers, was transferred to Craigavon Area Hospital where he died on Tuesday.

Based in the Mullinure Health and Wellbeing Centre at St Luke’s Hospital in Armagh, the Gillis Memory Centre caters for men and women.

It is understood police have prepared a file for the Public Prosecution Service in relation to a man in his seventies who is also a patient at the unit.

Mr O'Reilly played his first game for Crossmaglen Rangers in 1952 and won the senior championship in 1960 and 1962.

Having quit football in the early sixties, Mr O’Reilly served two terms as chairman of Crossmaglen Rangers between 1963 and 1971. He was one of three honorary joint club presidents.

The club said it was with "immense sadness" that it learned of the death of its honorary president. The club also cancelled its Christmas party as a mark of respect to "a loyal supporter and a true Gael".

Mr O'Reilly later held the position of chairman of Armagh League Board for five consecutive years before he was elected chairman of the County Board, serving in that position until 1981. He served as chairman of the Ulster Council from 2001 to 2004.

Clan na Gael in Lurgan, Carrickcruppen GAA and O'Neill's GFC An Port Mór, in Blackwatertown were among the Armagh clubs who said they "deeply regret the death" of Mr O'Neill.

The board of governors, staff and pupils of St Joseph's PS, Bessbrook, where one of Mr O'Reilly's daughters Frances is principal, also paid their respects.

Mr O'Reilly's funeral will leave his home today at 11.15am for noon Requiem Mass in the Church of St Malachy, Carrickcruppen. Burial will take place immediately afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

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