GAA family stands firmly behind a family and community in mourning

Published: 20 Sep 2012 13:000 comments

In life Brian óg Maguire gave everything to the GAA.

A pensive Peter Canavan and Fermanagh team headed the guard of honour at Chapel Brae.

In life Brian óg Maguire gave everything to the GAA.

In death, albeit so tragically and untimely, that very organisation which he served with such distinction has not been found wanting in any respect, especially his home club of Lisnaskea Emmetts as they provide a family shorn of a son and brother the support network to somehow get through this tragedy.

We have seen it before, especially in neighbouring Tyrone in recent years.

Not surprisingly, Mickey Harte whose own daughter Michaela was murdered last year while on honeymoon in Mauritius visited the family home and spoke to the members of the family individually.

Harte's strength and resilience in the face of similar tragedy can only be a beacon of hope to family and friends.

The President of the GAA, Liam O'Neill and Director General, Paraic Duffy also visited the wake house as the top administrative men in the GAA highlighted the far reaching impact this young player had already made.

Players such as Aaron Kernan, Armagh and CJ McGourty, Antrim also visited the Maguire family while messages from all over the globe were posted on Facebook and Twitter.

The GAA's Sunday Game also played a tribute to Brian óg and Nevin Spence the young rugby player killed in a farm accident with his father and brother on Saturday evening.

And indeed, there were tributes from all sports and politicians of very different hues.

But it was on the ground in Lisnaskea where the role of the GAA club in the community came into its own.

From the moment the news broke on Thursday, Lisnaskea Emmetts, the Fermanagh senior team and all the clubs in Fermanagh came together not only as a source of support to the family and his girlfriend Meadhbh, but also to themselves, grieving the loss of a good friend, clubmate or respected opponent.

Lisnaskea Emmetts chairman, Collie McCaffrey was to the forefront and witnessed it roll into action.

"There has been an unbelievable response," he explained. "Unfortunately the club has suffered several tragedies before and I think the committee members, the players and young players coming to together is like a form of therapy for themselves.

"We had a rota made up for stewarding and car parking but that was thrown away almost instantly because we found the boys just wanted to about each other, helping out and even enjoying a bit of banter and remembering Brian óg. They certainly all rallied around each other, the Maguire family and it is a source of comfort."

Collie added that the response was county wide as well.

"I must pay tribute to all the clubs in Fermanagh. They turned up in such huge numbers for the guard of honour and many of our boys in the funeral procession said it was very emotional as the cortege made its way up the Chapel Brae to Holy Cross.

"Every club was fantastic, the Maguire's native club of Newtownbutler and neighbouring St. Patrick's have also been a great support. I don't like singling out any club because the support has been universal but Tempo also deserve much credit. It is has been hard for them and no matter what happens in the County Final it will be nothing to celebrate. But they have been great and very understanding in a very difficult position. It has been a strong community effort throughout."

He added: "In our own club Martin Teague, Amy Calder, Patrick Clifford and Brian Armitage worked non stop and we hope in some way it helped the Maguire family. I must also thank the County Board and in particluar PRO Johnny McManus for all their help."

And Collie finished on how this GAA family ethos in the face of difficult times brings out the very best in people, thereby giving hope to all those directly affected by the death of Brian óg Maguire.

"We have a lot of players at all ages be it football, hurling or the ladies section. Sometimes we take the young people for granted but you really get to know people in the face of adversity and there was an awful lot of goodness and togetherness obvious since Thursday. Hopefully it will help everyone, especially the Maguire family moving forward."

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