Sport GAA

Monday 20 November 2017

Tragedy of hurler James Long (13) who died after sending winning goal text to mum

'We were down by two points and I came on at corner-forward and scored a rasper of a goal . . . I'll tell you about it in the morn'

James Long
scored the
winning goal for
his team before
he died suddenly
yesterday
morning from a
suspected
asthma attack
James Long scored the winning goal for his team before he died suddenly yesterday morning from a suspected asthma attack

Barry Duggan

A TEENAGE boy who scored the winning goal for his hurling team in a crucial game died hours later from a suspected asthma attack.

James Long (13), from Limerick, was rushed from his home to hospital on Wednesday night after he became unwell, but died a short time later despite the best efforts of medical staff.

His heartbroken mother has revealed her son was delighted to come on as a substitute and score the winning goal for the Kilmallock U14 hurling team in the closing minutes of a local championship match against Patrickswell.

His mother Barbara told the Irish Independent she was still trying to come to terms with the death of her youngest child.

James texted his mother after he scored the winning goal in the match.

"It's still on my phone. He was absolutely delighted with himself -- made up after the game," she said

James's final text to his mother read: "We were down by two (points) and I came on in corner-forward and scored a rasper of a goal and then we were one up . . . I'll tell you about it in the morn (morning)."

Unfortunately, after arriving home, James became unwell. He was later rushed to University Hospital Limerick.

But he died there yesterday morning from a suspected asthma attack.

Barbara said her son was mad into sport.

"He always wanted to be right in the thick of it. He loved hurling and football. He always wanted to be playing where the action was. He was a great player and always did his best no matter what he played," she said.

"He wanted to be in the forwards all the time -- he'd never come back and defend when he was meant to. The managers used to be always roaring at him, 'Position, James'," she smiled.

"He had a funny nickname. 'Choccie Chip' is what he christened himself," she added.

Kilmallock mentor Bernie Savage brought James to and from his last hurling game.

"There was James, Luke Staunton and Jason Enright -- the same three lads with me all the time. They were in great form."

With his team two points down on a scoreline of 1-9 to 1-11, James came on as a substitute with 10 minutes left and lined out against players a year older than him.

"He came on corner-forward. He got his chance with only two minutes left. Donal Barry behind the goals roared at him to take a point, but James stuck it. It was the score that put us ahead.

"We always tell them when they are going for goal to hit it at head height. That is exactly what he did. We stopped for ice creams and Lucozades on the way home and I dropped James at his home around 9.45pm.

"He jumped out of the car, smiled and the last thing he said to me was, 'Head height, Bernie'," Mr Savage said.

Hugged

Close friend Luke Staunton (14) was playing full-forward alongside James when he scored. He recalled the goal for Barbara in her home yesterday.

"He put his arms around me and hugged me. He said he had to make up for a chance he got earlier. It was a great goal," Luke said.

James and Luke used to walk greyhounds for Eamon Cronin in Kilmallock and attended coursing meetings across the country.

James had just completed first year at Colaiste Iosaef secondary school in Kilmallock. His sister Kate (18) finished her Leaving Certificate earlier this week and another sister, Sarah (16), has completed transition year.

School principal Sean Twomey said James was one of the fittest students in school and his personality made him stand out.

A Manchester United fan, he played on the first-year soccer team which won the FAI North Munster soccer title.

"James was an outgoing, bubbly student. He was a loveable rogue and you couldn't miss him around the school corridors with his distinctive red hair and roguish charm. He was popular with students and staff and will be really missed," Mr Twomey said.

Irish Independent

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