Northern Ireland

Strabane Athletic pays tribute following the death of young player Rory Carlin

Rory Carlin died on Saturday
Rory Carlin died on Saturday

A Co Tyrone football club has paid tribute to one of its team members following his death, describing him as a "genuine and lovable lad".

Just hours after winning the North West Saturday Morning League, management and players at Strabane Athletic were given the devastating news that Rory Carlin had died. He turned 22 just a few days ago.

Manager Marcel Griffin, in a social media message on Sunday, said he was "absolutely devastated to hear of the terrible sad loss of one of my Strabane Athletic... squad members". 

"Yesterday saw us win the league title and we celebrated last night with a trip to Donegal Town. Rory Carlin, you would've been proud and should've been there," said the club manager.

"You helped us achieve this accolade, for that we all are grateful. After receiving a late cancellation message, I would never have imagined waking up this morning to hear that you are no longer with us, bud.

Rory, bottom farthest right, with Strabane Athletic
Rory, bottom farthest right, with Strabane Athletic

"Words mean nothing now. To your mum, dad, brothers and wider family circle and close friends I am so so sorry for your loss."

Mr Griffin added: "You were a genuine, polite and lovable lad and you weren't a bad baller on your day as well.

"Your presence will be sadly missed. Until we meet again bud (make sure there's a place in that football club above for me now). Fly high Rory and look over your loved ones over the hardest of days ahead."

Rory was also a former member of the Strabane Sigersons GAC, helping the team win a Tyrone juvenile championship in 2016.

"It's with great sadness that we once again mourn the loss of a young Sigersons Gael with the tragic news of the passing of Rory Carlin," the club said in a statement.

His mother Karen was a founding member of the Sigersons women's team while his brother Ryan also lined out for the club.

"We would like to offer our deepest condolences to the Carlin & Casey families on their very sad loss," the club said.

"The two families have been long-term supporters of our club. His mum Karen was one of the founding players of Sigersons ladies with other family members having strong links to the club.

"There are no words that we can express to console the heartbroken Carlin and Casey Clans at this extremely difficult time other than to urge the entire community to rally behind them and be there for each other.

"Strabane is having a tough time just lately. We are a strong and caring community and I urge you all to please be aware that there are many avenues available if you want to talk."

Three members of the same family, two from Strabane and one from nearby Newtownstewart, died last week after their minivan collided with a lorry on the A5 near Augnacloy.

Strabane councillor Jason Barr said his "thoughts and sincere condolences are with the Carlin Family this evening on the untimely death of their son and brother Rory". 

"Death is very hard to comprehend and deal with especially when it’s sudden and someone so young," Mr Barr said.

"Please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers in the days and weeks ahead. Another sad day for the town of Strabane."