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Shock as soccer player drops dead at training

TRIBUTES have poured in for a popular Dublin soccer player who died during a training session.

Derek Earley, a star player for Skerries Town in the Leinster Senior League, collapsed and died during a training session.

The squad was half an hour into their session when they set out to do some jogging. Derek collapsed soon afterwards and despite the attentions of club officials and the ambulance service, he could not be revived.

Derek, who turned 30 just two months ago, was one of the most respected players in the club having risen through the schoolboy ranks to the club's first team.

Roughly 1,200 mourners turned up at St Patrick's Church in Skerries on Monday where Derek's funeral mass was conducted by Parish Priest Fr Richard Hyland, whose vestments featured a red stripe to recognise Derek's lifelong support of Liverpool FC.

Liverpool club anthem You'll Never Walk Alone was played in the church. Derek regularly travelled to Merseyside with family members to watch his favourite side in action.

Club secretary Carl Ryan said: "The whole club is in shock and disbelief. Derek came up through the ranks and played his entire career with Skerries. It's hard to believe what has happened."

Having joined the club as an eight-year-old, Derek, from Greenlawns in Skerries, remained steadfastly loyal throughout his playing career and spent 22 years as a centre forward with the Hoops.

He was an electrician and a fitness fanatic, and regularly played five-a-side games with the clubs over-35s before training with his own team-mates at Skerries Community Centre.

The club is planning to commemorate Derek in some permanent manner.

On Saturday the Skerries over-35s will play against the Division 1C Leinster Senior League team in a memorial game in honour of their friend.