Rooney offers sympathies to family as stab victim is buried
MANCHESTER United striker Wayne Rooney has offered his sympathies to the family of "good Samaritan" knife-attack victim Warren O'Connor, who was buried yesterday.
The Premier League player phoned local priest Fr Terry Murray shortly before he officiated at the funeral of the former soldier, who was stabbed after he tried to resolve a row.
Fr Murray has known the football star for some time and said Mr Rooney was so moved by the tragic tale that he asked that his sympathies be passed on to the family.
He also indicated that he would personally write a letter to the family .
Mr O'Connor, a 24-year-old talented sportsman, was pursued and killed after responding to a friend's request to ask a neighbour to reduce the noise coming from a party at an adjacent apartment.
He drove away with his friend's pregnant girlfriend and a three-year-old child but was followed by a gang, who rammed his car and plunged a kitchen knife into his heart, killing him instantly.
Mourners in a packed St Francis of Assisi Church, Priorswood, Dublin, were told that Mr O'Connor's murder "brought a darkness to our community here on the northside". And Fr Murray said he had received a phone call from Wayne Rooney just before the Requiem Mass expressing his sympathies to Mr O'Connor's family and telling them a letter of condolence had also been sent.
Mr O'Connor played for Coolock Town and Killester and was also a huge Man United fan. The colours of his beloved team draped his coffin, alongside a Dublin jersey.
Fr Murray said the local community had gathered at the service "to say that what happened to Warren was wrong and evil" but he reminded the congregation that "though our hearts are very heavy this morning and the pain is tangible in the church, this morning's gathering is a celebration of Warren's life".
He described the dead man, who had just been accepted into the Fire Service, as an "out-and-out gentleman" with a "heart of gold" who was a natural leader, an outstanding sportsman and someone who was always helping those around him.
There was laughter as mourners heard tales of Mr O'Connor's large appetite and the length of time he used to spend in the shower. His mother, Tina, said that what she would miss most about her son was him coming down the stairs saying, "Ma, I'm starving".
Mr O'Connor's sister Carla tearfully described how she had lost her best friend.
A soloist sang songs to his parents, Fran and Tina, and to siblings Carla and Keith. Members of the Fifth Battalion of the Irish Army turned out in uniform to honour their fallen former comrade. Fr Murray noted that the family of Noel Deans -- also murdered in the same area last week -- were at the funeral in a show of solidarity with the O'Connors.