Northern Ireland news

Tyrone GAA community 'numb' at sudden death of All-Ireland-winning goalkeeper Jonathan Curran (33)

Former Tyrone goalkeeper Jonathan Curran. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Paul Ainsworth

TRIBUTES have poured in to All-Ireland winning Tyrone player Jonathan Curran following the 33-year-old's sudden death.

The goalkeeper from Coalisland died on Saturday after taking ill at home and being rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital.

News of the father-of-two's sudden death sparked a wave of tributes from friends, teammates and the wider GAA community.

Mr Curran, known as Jonny, was part of the Tyrone panel that lifted the Sam Maguire Cup in 2008 after beating Kerry in the All-Ireland senior football final.

A club championship winner with Coalisland, he also won three Ulster senior championships with Tyrone and an All Ireland minor medal in 2004.

The barber also played soccer with Dungannon Swifts FC, reaching the semi-finals of the Irish Cup in 2012.

That year saw him step away from the Tyrone squad to spend more time with partner Clodagh and their two young sons, Neasán and Darsái.

Speaking to The Irish News, Jonny's cousin Darragh Skeffington said the family was "devastated" and in "total shock" at the death of their loved one.

"It hasn't really hit us at all yet," he said.

"He cut my hair last Friday at his barber shop and he was telling me how he was looking forward to some time off after being so busy.

"He was always positive and happy, even during the lockdown period. He seemed so fit and healthy, which is why this is such a shock to everyone."

Vincent McCann, secretary of Coalisland Fianna GAC, said the club community was "heartbroken".

"We are numb with pain, to be honest," he said.

"He was just a great lad, on and off the field. He inspired so many people, and had such a fantastic playing record that saw some incredible career highs, both in Gaelic football and soccer.

"I know he took his Gaelic skills with him when he played soccer, often stunning both opponents and teammates with his ability to goal kick all the way to the other goalie's box. He will be sorely missed by all of us."

An official statement from the club also praised Jonny's sporting achievements and paid tribute to a "great friend".

"Jonny was a very friendly outgoing lad who lit up every room he entered, especially changing rooms with his teammates.

"Jonny will always be remembered for his personality, smile, and great sense of humour.

"To his parents Anthony and Alicia, his brother Stephen, sister Louise, partner Clodagh and two sons Neasán and Darsái - we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to you all. Johnny will never be forgotten as he will live on through each and every one of you."

A statement from Dungannon Swifts FC said: "Jonny was always on hand if we ever needed him and he was always more than happy to help. Our thoughts and prayers are with his partner Clodagh, his two boys and to his wider family circle. Rest in Peace Jonny."

Former Swifts coach and Fulham player Rodney McAree also said: "A nicer friend you couldn't wish to meet, always a smile on his face and time to chat."

A minute's silence was observed at yeserday's Allianz Football League clash between Tyrone and Donegal at Ballybofey in memory of Mr Curran and other recently deceased members of the GAA community.

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