Northern Ireland news

'Rory, you were our world' - Funeral takes place for Strabane footballer following sudden death

Strabane's Rory Carlin died last Sunday. A funeral for the 22-year-old was held in the Co Tyrone town's St Mary's Church on Thursday.
Paul Ainsworth

Strabane's Rory Carlin will be remembered as a "skilled sportsman", a funeral mass for the 22-year-old has heard.

The young footballer died last Sunday, just days after he celebrated his birthday, and a funeral took place in Strabane's St Mary's Church on Thursday.

Mourners were told of his love of sport, and how his sudden death left family and friends in "tremendous shock".

His death came less than a day after his club, Strabane Athletic FC, won the North West Saturday Morning League.

He had been due to join teammates for a celebratory trip to Donegal Town, before cancelling.

The following morning, they received what a club spokesperson said was the "heart-breaking news" of their friend's death.

Speaking at Thursday's mass, Melmount Parish priest, Fr Michael Doherty, paid tribute to Rory, describing him as a "talented, speedy and skilled sportsman", and referred to his previous time with Strabane Sigersons GAA club.

His talents were known "especially on the football field, both with Sigersons in his early days, and in more recent times with the trophy winning team at Strabane Athletic," Fr Doherty said.

Describing Rory as a "much loved young man", he said: "The events of last Sunday were a tremendous shock to his family."

Addressing mourners, his brother Ryan Carlin said: "Rory, not only were you my brother, you were my best friend, and it absolutely breaks my heart to think I will never see you again."

He said of his family, including his other brother Shane and parents Karen and Dominic Carlin: "We will cherish all the amazing memories you gave to us."

Holding back tears, he joked: "Me and Shane would never admit it in front of you, but you definitely were the best looking, and by far the better footballer."

He added: "Rory, you were our world, now look down on our family and friends and give us the strength to carry on. Rest east wee bro, until we meet again."

Following the service, a burial was held at St Mary's adjoining cemetery.