Wednesday 21 February 2018

Tributes paid to 'warrior' GAA hero (38) who died just hours after winning club cup match

'He was a committed and dedicated player on the field and a gentleman off the field'

Brendan Reilly
Brendan Reilly

Alan O'Keeffe

The death of a Louth Gaelic footballer has stunned fans throughout the county.

Club footballer and former inter-county player Brendan 'Benny' Reilly died suddenly after playing a match on Saturday.

The former cornerback for Co Louth had lined out at centre half back for the Naomh Mairtin club based in Monasterboice in a match against Saint Mary's club in Ardee.

He played a pivotal role in his club's stunning 5-9 to 1-10 victory in the Cardinal O'Donnell Cup semi-final game.

A father of three young children who had a career in sales, Mr Reilly took ill on his way home from the match.

He and his wife Lisa had recently celebrated the birth of their youngest child.

Tributes were paid to the 38-year-old player as a true leader in a formidable club team which have a large number of younger players.

Louth GAA county board chairman Des Halpenny extended the sympathy of the entire GAA community to his family last night.

"The people of the Ballybailie and Monasterboice areas and all GAA fans in Co Louth are deeply saddened to learn of his passing," Mr Halpenny told the Irish Independent.

"He played minor, under-21, and senior level for his county.

"He was a committed and dedicated player on the field and a gentleman off the field," said Mr Halpenny, who was captain of the John Mitchell's club team some years ago when Mr Reilly was vice-captain.

He was reported to be central to the Naomh Mairtin club's impressive 2017 Louth Senior Football Championship campaign.

He played a crucial role in his team's quarter-final replay win against Dreadnots in Drogheda last weekend.

His club are due to face Dundalk Gaels next Saturday.

Mr Reilly played his underage football with the John Mitchels club and he won a junior league and championship double alongside his brothers Shane, Barry and Alan in 1998.

He transferred to Naomh Mairtin club in 2008 and became an integral part of the side at senior level in subsequent years.

Many of Louth's clubs took to social media to offer their condolences.

Friends and fans described him as "a warrior" and "a gent".

John Mitchell's club posted a lengthy tribute to their former club player on Facebook yesterday.

"Our community and area have been shocked and saddened by the tragic and sudden passing at such a young age, of our former player and clubman Brendan (Benny) Reilly," stated a club spokesperson.

His late father Eugene had been a founder member of the club.

"His displays at club level earned him a call-up to the Louth senior squad where he wore the county jersey with pride and proved an able opponent," said the spokesperson.

Last night's Louth minor football championship semi- final meeting between Naomh Mairtin and Geraldines was postponed as a mark of respect.

Irish Independent

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