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Co Tyrone GAA player Christopher Colhoun (33) dies after flu complications

Christopher Colhoun celebrating scoring a goal for Pomeroy Plunkett GAC in 2016 Intermediate Final at Pauric Esler. Newry. Picture by Seamus Loughran

THERE has been an outpouring of grief across Tyrone following the sudden death of popular GAA player and father-of-two Christopher `Crico' Colhoun.

The 33-year-old died just 24 hours after being admitted to hospital with flu, leaving his family "broken and shocked".

Mr Colhoun, who was a member of Tyrone's 2007 McKenna Cup panel, is originally from Pomeroy, but now living in Clonoe with is wife Lisa and their two children Grace and Beth - the latter born in the summer.

The gifted teacher, who had only recently become vice-principal at Donaghmore Primary School, was a "fit and healthy non-smoker" who was also proficient in the martial art jujitsu.

Mr Colhoun last year won an Ulster Intermediate title with his club the Pomeroy Plunketts.

It is understood that he had been battling flu for a few weeks before becoming seriously ill.

Christopher and Lisa Colhoun had only welcomed their second daughter in the summer

Medics in the intensive care unit at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital battled to save the life of the senior GAA player, but his condition declined rapidly in the early hours of Monday and he died shortly before 2am.

Parish priest Fr Benedict Fee said, when he left Mr Colhoun's bedside on Sunday night, "I didn't think he was dying".

"Just there at the weekend he took very sick. Saturday night/Sunday morning he was rushed to the Royal Victoria intensive care and they could do nothing - his heart was so badly damaged," Fr Fee said.

"It's just one of those flukes, a one in a million kind of thing."

However, the priest said despite Mr Colhoun's dire condition, he had been awake and talking to loved one just hours before he died.

"When I left at 10.30pm he was alert and articulate and knew I was there.

"I didn't know how serious it was, there wasn't a mark on him. I didn't think he was dying... I just didn't think Christopher was going to die."

However, his condition began to seriously deteriorate around midnight and he died within two hours.

Fr Fee said his family are "just broken, so shocked".

Pomeroy Plunketts GAC issued a statement saying members are "heartbroken" and his "untimely passing is a shocking, devastating blow".

"For all that knew our Crico he was simply a lovely fella, a gentleman who always carried a smile on his face.

"A naturally gifted forward, he was capable of turning on a six pence and driving the ball over from distance with either foot.

"He was blessed with phenomenal pace and was a massive influence during the county, ulster and all-Ireland championship run in 2004/05 when his talent caught the eye of Mickey Harte and he was rewarded with a county call up the following season.

"Indeed Crico was still training well and committed to the Plunketts cause for the 2018 campaign, which makes the news of his passing even harder to comprehend. He excelled in everything he took on.

"... Husband, a father, a son, a brother, a teacher, a team-mate and a legend - rest in peace. We love you and we'll never forget you."

Tyrone All Ireland winner Owen Mulligan said it had been "shocking news to wake up to this morning" and senior player Cathal McCarron said he was "absolutely shocked and saddened".

He is survived by wife Lisa, daughters Grace and Beth, parents Rhona and Christopher and siblings Kelly, Tracey and Stephen.

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