'His friends are totally devastated' - Community in shock after Irishman (19) drowns in holiday resort pool
A fortieth birthday celebration in Spain ended in tragedy for an Irish family when a 19-year-old man died in a freak swimming pool accident.
Tributes were paid yesterday to talented footballer Gregory Long, from Rylane, Co Cork, who died despite desperate efforts by hotel staff in the Costa del Sol to revive him.
Mr Long was with 18 friends and family members, including his mother Trish and cousins, for a 40th birthday celebration at the Apartamentos Buensol resort in Torremolinos.
The party was for his mother's best friend.
The teen was spotted by shocked hotel staff floating face down in the deep end of the resort swimming pool at 7pm on Wednesday evening, shortly after he arrived.
A staff member dived into the pool and helped drag Mr Long out of the water. Frantic efforts by paramedics to revive him at the scene failed.
Mr Long, who is survived by his mother, older brother Mark, and sister Aisling, was well-known within the Rylane and Coachford community.
He was a sports fanatic and played soccer with Rylane, as well as both hurling and Gaelic football with Aghabullogue GAA.
His former soccer coach, Willie Dennehy, said the entire area was shocked by the tragedy.
"I first heard about the accident when my son, who is the same age and one of Gregory's best friends, received a text about it," he said.
"He was such a popular young lad. He was very laid back but on the playing pitch he was a rock of strength.
"Gregory was one of a group of young players who helped our soccer club rise in the ranks from (First) Division to Premium League and he played a central role in defence, as well as being our sub goalie.
"His friends are totally devastated. There is a group of about 11 of them all around the same age, who live within a mile or two of each other, and they were very close."
As a mark of respect, Rylane has cancelled matches planned for next Sunday and Tuesday.
Aghabullogue GAA club echoed that sense of shock.
Aghabullogue U-21 coach Danny Buckley said Gregory was one of their most committed players. "He was a fantastic athlete, a very skilled footballer, really committed to training and could play in any position on the team," he said.
"We had just finished training and were tidying up on Wednesday night when the news about his death started to filter through. Everyone was devastated and in such a state of shock.
"What we will remember most about Gregory was his sense of humour - he always seemed to be smiling and was such a great young lad to have around."
Mr Long attended Coachford Community College and, poignantly, had posted a message on Facebook for his girlfriend just hours before he departed Cork for Spain.
A post-mortem examination was due to take place last night at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Malaga.
A full investigation is now under way by the Guardia Civil but Spanish authorities said the incident is being treated as a tragic accident.
The complex is a short walk from La Carihuela Beach in Torremolinos and features two pools, one for adults and one for children, as well as a solarium and gardens. The complex is particularly popular with Irish holidaymakers.
Spanish paramedics said everything possible was done to revive the young man but he was pronounced dead at the scene before he could be rushed to a nearby hospital.
Guests at the hotel were shocked by the tragedy.
Several dozen Irish guests had checked into the complex just hours before the freak accident. "Everyone is in a state of shock at the hotel," one local said.
"It was terrible. Some of the guests at the hotel have decided to check out because they're so upset.
"You can imagine the trauma his poor family are going through."