'The positive is his condition hasn't deteriorated' - Family and friends praying for Aaron Devlin
Friends and family of critically ill GAA star Aaron Devlin were last night praying that his meningitis crisis had passed.
Medics told them yesterday that Aaron had entered a decisive phase in the potentially lethal viral illness that left the young Ballinderry player fighting for his life at the weekend.
"Doctors have said that the next few hours will be crucial for Aaron," Ballinderry club official and family friend Adrian McGuckin told the Belfast Telegraph last night.
"What I heard this morning was that there was no change in his condition. The positive in that is that he hasn't deteriorated - which could have been expected."
The speed with which the virus hit the Ulster University postgraduate has devastated the whole GAA community, said Mr McGuckin.
"The shock of what has happened to Aaron has been so great we can hardly take it in," he said.
"He took ill on Friday.
"None of us really thought that much of it.
"Then we heard on Saturday that he'd been brought into hospital for tests - and come Saturday evening at around 6.30pm news started filtering through that Aaron was very unwell, that he had got a virus.
"And by yesterday morning he was fighting for his life.
"Aaron was out playing last week, he's in peak fitness - he's just a big athletic fella lying there."
The small village of Ballinderry has been stunned, said Mr McGuckin, who also coaches the Ulster University Jordanstown GAA team.
"The GAA community is the community in Ballinderry. It's the only thing that really exists in the place, and we're all very much one family. We're stunned by what's happened to him."
Asked how Aaron's family were bearing up under the stress, Mr McGuckin said: "They're not. They're just hoping for the slightest morsel of hope.
"When you get word this morning that his condition has not deteriorated, then you find good in that.
"Those are the small things that you grasp for.
"Aaron is a very intelligent lad, academic - but he's also full of fun, full of craic. You'd never see him without a big smile on his face from one ear to the other."
Meanwhile, a Northern Health Trust spokesperson said that Aaron's condition remained critical.