GAA fan found dead after vicious attack had 'bright future'

A murder probe has been launched into the death of avid GAA fan Joe Deacy. Photo: Ger Keville

Ryan Nugent and Ken Foy

A young man who was killed in a "fatal beating" was a regular visitor to Ireland who was here to see his friends.

Joseph 'Joe' Deacy had been over from St Albans, England, and is understood to have relatives in Ireland.

Mr Deacy was an avid Mayo GAA supporter, who would travel over to Ireland as often as he could for games.

A friend said he would have been hell-bent on taking in their All-Ireland semi-final clash with Kerry at Croke Park this weekend.

Mr Deacy was found lying with serious head injuries in the garden of the Co Mayo home where he was staying.

He was found by a passer-by at around 6am on Saturday and was rushed to Mayo General Hospital, before being transferred to Beaumont Hospital, where he died on Sunday evening.

It is understood gardai launched the murder investigation after stories of his last moments didn't match with the injuries sustained, identified in a post-mortem conducted by State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy.

The victim was found in the driveway of a friend's home in Gortnasillagh, Swinford.

Superintendent Tony Healy, of Claremorris Garda Station, told the Herald Mr Deacy had been out with friends in Kiltimagh the night before.


"He was on holiday, he had some friends here in Ireland," said Supt Healy.

"He would be over and back here quite regularly and had a circle of friends he'd visit."

It is understood the most substantial injuries sustained by Mr Deacy were to the head.

Gardai are trawling CCTV and are asking taxi drivers or other witnesses to help determine what happened to Mr Deacy before he was found.

"He had been socialising in Kiltimagh town and would have returned to the house he was staying at in Gortnasillagh, Swinford," said Supt Healy.

A forensic examination of the scene has been carried out and an incident room has been established at Claremorris Garda Station.

A family liaison officer has been appointed in the case.

Mr Deacy's GAA club in London, St Colmcilles, paid tribute to him, saying he was a rising star.

"It is with a heavy heart that we have to report the sad news of the passing of a member of the St Colmcilles family, a player, our teammate, our friend, Joe Deacy," the club said.

"At 21 years of age, Joe had a bright future ahead of him. He had an amazing energy and a real lust for life.

"He was a great friend and people were drawn to his character, his humour and outlook on life.

"Joe loved playing Gaelic football and being a part of the senior team here at St Colmcilles. He had fantastic ability, great pace and was always a threat in front of goal.

"He has been a key member of the squad in recent years and has been very important to the success that the team has achieved recently.

"It is difficult to say goodbye to anyone at any age but, when it happens to someone so young, it is especially difficult. He will be sorely missed by us all.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Joe's family and friends at this time.

"You will always be remembered by all of us here at the club, your friends and teammates. Rest in peace Joe."

Friend Carrick Sammon, from London, also paid tribute to the tragic victim, saying: "Genuinely one of the friendliest people on the planet, who always wanted everybody to get along and have a good time."