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Sunday 20 October 2019

Gas blast kills footballer in Australia

Edel O'Connell

A TIGHT-knit community is in mourning for a talented footballer who died following an explosion in Australia after moving there only a few months ago.

Paddy Bird (24), from Baileborough, Co Cavan, died when a gas cylinder which was loaded in the rear of a van exploded in Darwin yesterday.

He was the second Irishman to die in such a manner in recent months after moving to Australia for work.

Kieran Tynan (22), of Lisacul, Ballaghadereen, Roscommon, was working as a farmhand at New Norcia, near Perth, when a gas bottle exploded causing a fire which claimed his life in November.

It is understood Mr Bird, who was a refrigerator mechanic, was loading up a work van with gas bottles in a rear-loading space.

It appears the gas in one of the bottles ignited, causing an explosion which killed the young tradesman. The blast was so powerful it blew off the roof of the garage and a steel garden fence.

It was the second refrigeration gas cylinder explosion this week in Australia. A Melbourne-based refrigerator mechanic Joe Cosentino was killed in a similar blast on Tuesday.

Tributes poured in for the Bailieborough Shamrocks footballer yesterday from his home town.

Chairman of Baileborough GAA, John Rooney, described Mr Bird as "an outstanding forward and a highly regarded young man".

Mr Bird played for his native Bailieborough and also represented Cavan at Under 21 and junior level. He moved to Australia last September.

Mr Rooney said the entire community was in shock after the accident. Hundreds of Mr Bird's friends paid tribute to him on his Facebook page yesterday.

"We'd like to express our deepest sympathies towards his family at this very tough time, especially coming up to Christmas," Mr Rooney said.

Mr Bird is survived by his parents, Frank and Kathleen, and his sister and brother Julie and Francie.

Local parish priest Fr John Murphy said the family were traumatised by the tragedy. "What can you say when something like this happens? It is a terrible tragedy for the family, particularly when Paddy was so far away from home, everyone is in shock.

It is unclear when Mr Bird's remains can be returned to Ireland.

Irish Independent

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