Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
The integrity, decency and dedication of Tyrone hurling star Damian Casey has been honoured at the young man’s funeral in Dungannon on Sunday afternoon.
Mourners gathered at St Patrick’s Church for the funeral of the 29-year-old, whose life was described as filled with “abundant achievement, with constant commitment and a total desire to give his best to everything he did”.
Damian had been attending a friend’s wedding in Spain when he died in an incident in a swimming pool last Saturday.
The Dungannon man played for the Tyrone senior hurling team and at inter-county level for the Eoghan Ruadh GAA club.
Tributes poured in from sporting organisations for the player, regarded as one of the county’s best hurlers, after the tragic news broke.
His teammates, wearing club and county jerseys, formed a guard of honour outside St Patrick’s Church as mourners arrived for the service on Sunday.
The Very Rev Dean Kevin Donaghy told mourners that Damian Casey’s life was “packed with goodness and decency, with earnest effort and abundant achievement, with constant commitment and a total desire to give his best to everything he did, in family life, in school and university, in sport and play, and in a successful but all-too-short working life”.
“He had indeed come to perfection in so short a while,” he said.
Damian was described as a “dynamic” sportsman, “an inspirational leader” and “a man of integrity and honour”.
“In his teenage years, it was clear that Damian could have been every bit as good a footballer as he was a hurler, but you couldn’t do both, and Damian’s choice was the hurling,” he said.
“In all his games as a hurler, he was never once sent off the field of play. That says a lot about his character and temperament.”
Mourners heard of how in his last appearance for his county team in the Nicky Rackard Cup final held in Croke Park last month, he captained the team and scored 14 points to lead Tyrone to victory, in a “classic example of his outstanding performance on the field”.
“Every death of a young person in the prime of life confronts us with surprise and draws us into shock and disbelief. And yet we’re called also today to celebrate the life of Damian as a person, as a family member, as a sportsman, as a businessman, as a good friend and as a good example to so many in his community and far beyond.”
Prayers were said giving thanks for Damian’s life, for those mourning Damian’s passing, for those who have supported Damian’s family in the wake of his death, and for those at his hurling club.