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Investigation launched following death of 18-year-old GAA player Fionntán McGarvey

Fionntán McGarvey in action for St Brigid's GAC, Belfast. A club spokesman paid tribute to the 18-year-old last night following news of his death. Picture by John McIlwaine
Paul Ainsworth

THE family of a rising GAA star have told of their devastation as police said they have launched a probe into his death.

Fionntán McGarvey (18), a student at Queen's University Belfast, died in hospital yesterday following an incident outside licensed premises early on December 27.

It is understood the incident occurred outside the Devenish Complex on Finaghy Road North at around 1am.

Detectives from the PSNI's Major Investigation Team arrested a 21-year-old man on suspicion of murder. He remained in police custody last night.

A statement was issued last night on behalf of the McGarvey family, who are from the south Belfast area.

"We are devastated to lose our beautiful son Fionntán but take comfort that his wish to donate his organs will provide other families with hope at our time of deep loss," they said.

"The family is grateful for the many messages of sympathy and support we have received. We would ask for privacy at this most difficult time."

Tributes were paid last night to the keen young sportsman from clubs with which he was involved.

A talented GAA player, Mr McGarvey turned out on the football pitch for both St Brigid's GAC in south Belfast and Queen's, where he had begun studying last autumn.

The chairman of St Brigid's, Eunan Conway, said the club was deeply saddened at the loss of a much loved and popular team mate and friend to many, "representing St Brigid’s with distinction at U20 and senior level".

"For over 20 years the McGarvey family have been hugely influential in the development of St Brigid's and we express our heartfelt sympathies to Fionntán's parents Lorcan and Aveen, his brothers Caolan and Daire, and his sister, Sorcha," he said.

Queen's GAA also paid tribute and offered its heartfelt condolences and prayers to the young man's friends, team mates, the St Brigid's club, and "most of all his family at this most difficult time".

Mr McGarvey also played soccer for south Belfast's Aquinas FC. A spokesperson said he had been involved from the age of seven.

PSNI Detective Inspector Raymond Phelan said of the date of the incident: "I know there was a large number of people in the area at the time and I am appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the assault, or have any information to come forward."

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