Co Tyrone great-grandfather who died following Covid-19 battle was a `larger than life character'
THE family of a Co Tyrone great-grandfather who died following a battle with Covid-19 have told of how he will be remembered as a "loving and caring man".
John Hurl, who was 85 and from Ardboe, passed away at Craigavon Area Hospital on Monday.
The father-of-seven had been admitted on January 24 after becoming unwell at home.
He later tested positive for coronavirus and was given oxygen.
In the days that followed his condition deteriorated and the hospital allowed his son John in to spend time with his father.
Despite fears for the worst his condition improved in the following days and he was able to use his iPad to speak with some of his grandchildren.
However in recent days Mr Hurl's condition worsened and in the early hours of Monday he died.
Speaking to the Irish News Ethan Hurl said his grandfather's death was "unexpected" and at one point they were hopeful that he was "going to get out again".
Mr Hurl said his grandfather "fought on" after seeing his son John and last week, when speaking to him through his iPad, you would "never have known he was sick".
"He seemed alright, " he said.
"He spoke to me and my sister. The first thing he asked about was Manchester United.
"We thought he might get over it. There was one point, you could have swore he was going to get back out again."
Ethan said he and his family had been left "heartbroken" by the loss.
"He was a family man," he said.
"We were all so close. He put everybody before himself. He loved his children and grandchildren and his brothers and sisters. He lost his father at a young age and had to be the father figure of his family.
"He was a fantastic man. He did everything for you. Anywhere you needed to go, he took you. He was a legend when it came to sport."
Ethan said his grandfather was a big Tyrone GAA fan but was known all over Ireland for his contribution to a number of GAA clubs including Arboe, where he had played and managed, and also Carrickmore.
He was also involved with Ardoe Cycling Club and greyhound racing.
"He was a loving, caring man and a larger than life character," said Mr Hurl.
"If he had have had a wake properly, there would have been thousands."
The 28-year-old added: "It is devastating.
"If Covid never happened he would have lived until he was 100."
"It is heartbreaking. You can't say goodbye. To have to walk in and not be able to see his face and the coffin being closed. It's really, really hard."