Northern Ireland news

Fermanagh GAA star tells how All-Ireland win 'elation' turned to 'complete devastation' following mum's suicide

Fermanagh GAA star Brenda Bannon pictured with her mother, Gaby who died last December

FERMANAGH GAA star Brenda Bannon has told of how her mother's suicide just four days after she won an All-Ireland Junior Championship, saw her go from "elation to complete devastation".

The 26-year-old Derrygonnelly Harps forward, who works as a radiographer, said she is managing to work through the tragic loss with the help of the Women's Gaelic Players Association (WGPA)

Speaking to BBC NI Sport, the sportswoman said she still struggles with the loss of her mother, Gaby, who died on December 10 last year.

Her death came just four days after Brenda won the All-Ireland Junior Championship title with her team, Fermanagh.

However, celebration quickly turned to sadness.

"We won the All-Ireland on 6 December and we lost mam on the 10th," she said.

"She was very sick for a long time but you still never see it coming. It was elation to complete devastation.

"It was the hardest thing I have ever been through in my entire life. I know I will get through anything now, in football, in work, anything I come across, if I got through that.

"Only for the football circles and things like that, I have got a lot of help through the WGPA with counselling, I just don't think I would have got through it without that."

"When I moved out of home, I totally immersed myself in sport and school," she said.

"I was just hellbent on proving a point. I didn't want everything that had happened to slow me down or prevent me from being successful.

"I literally just busied myself to the max.

"That was my way of not dealing with what was going on at the time. Looking back now, at 14 and after all that happened to me, I moved out of home and I basically lost my mom then, I lost our relationship, I definitely should have got help.

"I remember my brother's wife picked me up one day. She was like, you really need to deal with this. You should talk to someone outside of the family, someone neutral. She said if you don't deal with this now, it will catch up with you."

Brenda reconnected with her mother in recent years.

"I can remember I could barely breathe talking to my counsellor about the morning we found mam," she said.

The GAA star is now 16 counselling sessions into her new life.

"It has been so beneficial to have someone neutral to speak to, just to even rationalise your thoughts," she said.

"People think if you go to a counsellor it will wave a magic wand and you will be fine. Things don't really get a whole pile easier, you just learn to deal with them".

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news