Northern Ireland news

St James's Swift U-16s 'heartbroken' at the death of young teammate Rían Nolan

Rían played as a forward for St James Swift under-16 team. His team-mates are heartbroken at his passing.

A TEENAGE football player who died on Saturday following a long battle with illness has been described as a "brilliant kid" by his "heartbroken" team.

Rían Nolan (14) from west Belfast played forward for St James Swift under-16s.

The schoolboy passed away peacefully at the Children's Haematology unit at the Royal hospital surrounded by his family.

A student at the former CBS school on the Glen Road, his team-mates were told on Saturday about his death following a match.

"We waited until after they had played and I called the kids over to tell them, it was terrible. They are all heartbroken. Rían was just a brilliant kid who loved his footbball," said team manager Gerard Tate.

A minute's silence was held before another game between the St James Swift senior team and Ballymacash Rangers at the weekend.

On its Twitter page, the club wrote: "Heartbroken to hear that one of our junior swifts has sadly lost his battle and passed away, we send all our condolences to his family and loved ones and all his team mates at the club.

"Today the swifts play for Rían...RIP our friend."

Junior team treasurer David Walsh said he had known Rían for three years since joining the club.

"He was one of those kids every coach loves. He was always at training come rain, hail or shine. Hew was very passionate about his football and did everything you asked of him.

"The whole team is devastated, they have a very close bond and are a unit. Our thoughts go out to Rían's family."

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