Emotional scenes as popular footballer and teacher Christopher Colhoun (33) laid to rest in Co Tyrone
MEMBERS of a Co Tyrone GAA club stood shoulder to shoulder around the coffin of footballer Christopher Colhoun yesterday as hundreds of people paid an emotional farewell to the father-of-two.
Clutching a photograph of her beloved husband, the 33-year-old's devastated wife Lisa also walked beside his remains to the church in Clonoe, stopping to hold tight their two young daughters.
A guard of honour by Pomeroy Plunketts GAC accompanied the coffin on Mr Colhoun's final journey, with a round of applause breaking out shortly before the cortege entered St Patrick's Church for Requiem Mass.
Children from St Patrick’s Primary School in Donaghmore, where the popular teacher had been appointed vice-principal last July, also stood in silence outside.
A poignant floral tribute from one of his Primary Four pupils simply read: "Have a safe journey to Heaven".
Mr Colhoun died just 24 hours after being admitted to hospital with flu, which he is understood to have been battling for a few weeks before becoming seriously ill.
Medics in the intensive care unit at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital battled to save the life of the talented footballer, but his condition declined rapidly in the early hours of Monday and he died shortly before 2am.
A member of Tyrone's 2007 McKenna Cup panel, he also won an Ulster intermediate title with Pomeroy last year.
Originally from Pomeroy, Mr Colhoun married Lisa more than four years ago and they lived in Clonoe.
Parish priest Fr Benedict Fee said he had officiated at his wedding as well as baptising their two children.
"The very reason this painful privilege falls to me is that it was my sweet sublime privilege to be with Lisa and Christopher the Easter Tuesday they were wed, a mere four and a half years ago, the last day that Lisa choked back tears in this chapel, the tears of joy that her man from the mountains was marrying Lisa the lassie from the lowlands," he said.
"And together on that day, they pledged to love each other truly, for better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health all the days of their life.
"And in the midst of our Easter joy that day, none of knew how few those days would be."
Fr Fee said that "life was good for Christopher - he had his family, his football and he had his teaching too".
"He was so proud when he was appointed vice-principal of St Patrick’s, Donaghmore."
The priest told how a "river of tears" had been shed for the loss of Mr Colhoun.
"Today as we mourn him greatly, we remember the rich legacy of the over two million dollars he has left to Lisa and to all the Colhoun and McAliskey clan - one million is called Grace and the second million is called Beth," he said.
Mr Colhoun was laid to rest in the adjoining church cemetery, with teammates from the Plunketts club again standing together with arms interlocked around the grave.
The club later posted the picture on its Facebook page, with the simple words: "Brothers one and all...’til the end. RIP Crico. Gone but never forgotten."