Tribute was paid to Tyrone’s cast star Damian Casey after he died in an accident in Spain.
As far as is known, Mr. Casey (age 29) came to the wedding, where he was supposed to be the best man.
He died in a pool accident.
Considered Tyrone’s greatest hurler, he helped his home county to Nicky Rackard Cup glory just last month. He also played for the Eoghan Ruad Club, Dungannon.
The Gaelic Players Association stated: “Damian excelled as a person and as a leader. On the field, he was a wizard of rare skill. He was one of us. He was among the best of us.”
Announcing his death, Tyrone G.A.A. said: “Heartbreak and grief can come in many forms, but they are especially brutal when caused by the sudden death of someone young, talented, outgoing and in the prime of life.
“Accordingly, the Gaelic Tyrone is completely shaken by the news of the tragic death of Damian Casey, an excellent thrower who is now at the peak of his powers.”
Mr. Casey was first named to the Tyrone senior team in 2012.
The forward started his county’s first game that season, and surprisingly, he’s started every game for Tyrone since—100 games in total. To put that into context, Galway Harling midfielder David Burke (32) will set the record for most appearances in his district with 63 appearances when they play against Cork later today.
Incredibly, in 100 games, Damian Casey scored in every game.
Tyrone County Chairman Michael Kerr said: “This breaking news is incredible.
“The one who brought honor, delight and simple, direct joy to our entire county and far beyond its borders, is gone, and it is so difficult to accept.
“Very difficult days lie ahead for Sean, Susan, Louise and Katherine, for Damian’s wider family circle and many friends and associates, for his teammates and for the Gaels of Dungannon and Tyrone.
“We express our deepest sympathy to them, and now we must focus on providing the support and comfort that will be so badly needed.”
Tyrone GAA added: “Damian Casey was a special gift for Tyrone and for throwing. We have become richer because of his presence and poorer because of his departure.”
On May 21, Mr. Casey played a major role when Tyrone beat Roscommon by five points in the final of the Nicky Rackard Cup at Croke Park. That day, he scored 14 of the team’s 1-21 points.
In the semi-finals, he scored an impressive 1-12 record, which also brought him over 400 championship points.
It was the second time he won the trophy, as captain of Tyrone’s first team to lift him in 2014, when he delivered what has been described as an “inspirational” performance, scoring eight points in Crocker’s game against Fingal.
In total, the marksman scored 39 goals and scored 908 league and championship points for Tyrone — or 1,025 points — in his ten years of service.
Mr. Casey’s results make him one of the nation’s deadliest forwards in recent years, and his stats rival the league’s greats, including Cork’s Patrick Horgan, who holds the senior scoring record.
In fact, Horgan’s average per game is roughly 8.4, while Damian Casey had a 10.01 at the time of his last performance.
Today, tributes are pouring in from all over the GAA world and beyond.
Mr Casey was a former Dungannon Clarkes GAA player. His father Sean was the former chairman of the Clarkes.
A spokesman said: “Damian was a former Clarks player and was a hugely popular member of our club for many years, although it was as a hurler that he really made a name for himself by becoming one of the top players. to ever decorate our ancient game.
“For years, we have proudly watched as Damian has shown off the heroic performances of Tyrone and his club Eoghan Ruad, lighting up countless games with his skill, passion and leadership. We know how special he was to everyone at Eoghan Ruadh and we offer them our sincere condolences.
“Damian was a true champion and behaved both on and off the field. He was greatly loved and greatly respected by all who knew him, and his departure is a terrible loss for our society.”
He was a former student of St. Patrick’s Academy at Dungannon.
The school said in a statement: “We are saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Damian Casey RIP. Damian was an amazing athlete and the highest scoring thrower of the Academy and Tyrone. He represented both with grace and skill.”
Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew said the Dungannon community was “heartbroken”, adding: “Thinking of his devastated parents and sisters, his family and friends, his teammates and all those who loved him.”
Dungannon’s adviser Barry Monteith said, “Damian was great among us and Tyrone’s greatest thrower. We are honored to share his time with us at Dungannon and Tyrone.”
Dungannon broadcaster Adrian Logan said: “He was a top notch hurler and a great guy. Everyone is visibly and completely heartbroken, devastated and distraught.
“From the victory celebration in Croke Park to this. He was such a decent and good guy and also a great athlete.”
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph last month, Casey said: “I grew up dreaming of playing for Dungannon & Tyrone all my life.”
Of his remarkable scoring record, he said: “The point is to take a deep breath, take a step back from the ball and look at the ball, look at the posts. A couple of steps forward, a couple more breaths. Such things.
“Opposition teams will scream and roar, opposition fans will stand behind you. But it’s about having this set routine, repeating it every time, and then repeating.
“It comes naturally, whether it’s the first minute of the game or the 70th minute of the game. Everything should be smooth and natural. And, hopefully, after that the ball will fly over the crossbar.