Northern Ireland news

Fionntán McGarvey death: Minute's silence to be held before soccer games

Fionntán McGarvey in action for St Brigid's GAC, Belfast. Picture by John McIlwaine

A MINUTE'S silence will be held before youth soccer games in south Belfast over the weekend following the death of a rising sporting star.

Fionntán McGarvey (18) was assaulted outside the Devenish Complex on Finaghy Road North in Belfast in the early hours of December 27.

He died in the Royal Victoria Hospital on Thursday.

Police launched a murder investigation and arrested a 21-year-old man.

The man was later released on bail pending further police inquiries.

Mr McGarvey was a student at Queen's University Belfast.

A talented sportsman, he played for both St Brigid's GAC in south Belfast and Queen's.

He also played soccer for Aquinas FC.

In a statement, the South Belfast Youth Football Invitational League (SBYFL) asked all clubs and officials to hold a minute's silence before every game this weekend.

"On behalf of the South Belfast Youth Football League we would like to offer our deepest sympathies to the family, friends & everyone involved at Aquinas FC following the sudden passing of player Fionntán McGarvey," the statement read.

"Fionntán represented the club from the age of seven, playing right through every age group in the SBYFL before playing for the club's senior side."

The family of five-year-old west Belfast boy Dáithí Mac Gabhann, who is waiting for a heart transplant, thanked the McGarvey family for carrying out Fionntán's wish to donate his organs.

"Thinking of others in their time of tragedy makes the McGarvey family, as well as Fionntán, superheroes," the Mac Gabhann family said.

"Sending our sincere condolences to Fionntán’s friends and the whole McGarvey family at this very sad time."

Mr McGarvey was also a member of Olympia Swimming Club.

The club said its members were "deeply saddened" by Mr McGarvey's death.

"As with all members of the McGarvey family, Fionntán was a much loved member of Olympia and we express our heartfelt sympathies to Fionntán’s parents, Lorcan and Aveen, his brothers Caolán and Dáire and his sister Sorcha," a statement read.

Mr McGarvey's friends paid warm tributes to him online.

One wrote: "Life is so, so precious. Hug your mates that bit tighter today and tell you love them. Fionntán always did that to me. RIP my brother."

Requiem Mass for Mr McGarvey will be celebrated at St Brigid's Church near his home on Derryvolgie Avenue in south Belfast at noon on Monday.

The family has asked for donations to be made to the Regional Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital instead of flowers.

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