Northern Ireland news

Shock and grief as Gaelic footballer (17) dies of asthma attack

James Grant, who died of an asthma attack
Mairead Holland

A YOUNG Co Down Gaelic football player - known for his infectious smile and laughter - has died suddenly of an asthma attack.

James Grant (17) took ill and died at his home in Atticall near Kilkeel on Thursday.

A minor and under-20 player with Atticall GAC, he was described by his club as a "talented footballer with a promising career ahead of him".

Players and young people gathered at the clubrooms last night where they were being supported by volunteers from the Michaela Foundation.

The club said it was left "shocked and saddened" at the death of the young player, who was a pupil at St Mark's High School in Warrenpoint.

His former primary school, Holy Cross in Atticall, paid tribute describing him as "a pupil who will always be remembered for his infectious smile and laughter".

The school said the news "has shaken our entire community".

Atticall Youth Club said they "had the pleasure of having James attend" and extended its condolences to his parents and family.

Father Sean Cahill from Upper Mourne parish, said the death had cast a "big cloud" over the Atticall area.

"There is sadness whenever any young person dies, but particularly when it happens at Christmas time," he said.

He said the people had also been left stunned by the death of another parishioner, Willie Murnion, on the same day.

The father-of-four, who was 51, took a massive heart attack and died at the wheel of his car as he and his wife were on their way to Newry.

Fr Cahill said: "I have two funeral Masses on the one day. It is a very sad parish."

James's funeral service will take place today at 2pm in St Colman's Church, Massforth, with burial in the adjoining cemetery.

He is survived by his parents John and Helene, sister Emma, brothers Aaron and Michael, grandmother Mary Grant and family circle.

Requiem Mass for Mr Murnion, whose daughter Kellie was a past secretary and senior camogie player at Atticall GAC, will take place in the same church at the earlier time of 11am, with burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

James Grant, right, with his mum and dad John and Helene, sister Emma and brothers Aaron and Michael

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