Northern Ireland

Co Tyrone Gael Matty McGuigan remembered for 'unwavering spirit'

Matty McGuigan had moved to Australia last week
Matty McGuigan had moved to Australia last week Matty McGuigan had moved to Australia last week

A young Tyrone Gaelic footballer who died suddenly just days after arriving in Australia has been remembered for his "unwavering spirit".

Matty McGuigan (24) passed away after falling ill at the weekend.

From Cookstown, he was a former captain of Kildress Wolfe Tones and later managed the club's minors.

His sudden passing is the second tragedy to hit the Kildress club in recent months.

In September, nine-year-old Ronan Wilson, a youth team player with the club, died after a hit and run incident in Bundoran, Co Donegal.

Matty was a former pupil at Holy Trinity College in Cookstown and moved to Australia with his partner Clodagh in the last week.

He was previously part of the Tyrone minor squad.

Tyrone GAA described him as one of the county’s most outstanding forwards.

"Matty represented Tyrone as a member of the county minor squad in 2017 and since then had developed into one of the county’s most outstanding forwards with his club Kildress Wolfe Tones," a statement said.

“Matty's contributions to his team were nothing short of extraordinary, and his legacy as a player will forever be etched in the hearts of those who had the privilege of witnessing his prowess on the field.

“His commitment to the game and his unwavering spirit has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on Kildress Wolfe Tones and the broader community in Tyrone."

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His brother Darragh posted a tribute on social media.

“Forever young, love you forever. Very grateful to have you as a brother for 27 years of my life, don’t know how this has happened or why - I’ll never understand.”

The club said: “We are absolutely devastated here in Kildress tonight with the sad news of Matty’s death."

The club added: “Rest in peace Matty, you truly were one of a kind.”

After moving to Australia in recent days, Matty had joined the Cormac McAnallen’s GAA club in Sydney.

It is named after the former Tyrone captain who also died tragically young in 2004.

The club said: “Matty had only recently arrived in Sydney with his girlfriend Clodagh, and in his short time spent here, had touched the lives of many that were fortunate enough to encountered him.

“Matty’s love for Gaelic football and his extreme talent was one of many qualities he was well known for. His commitment and dedication to the game was to be admired by many and we all were looking forward to him being our team mate and part of our club.

“Matthew will forever leave an imprint on the hearts of all those that knew him and his charming smile and kindness will be greatly missed.”

Matty also played soccer for Cookstown Olympic FC.

The club said today they were “devastated” by his passing.

"Matty was a fantastic footballer, but more importantly he was a fantastic person. He always showed up with a smile on his face and played the full game with that same smile,” the club said.

It added: “Heaven has gained an angel, and again taken the best from us far too soon. RIP Matty.”