Tributes have poured in for a talented amateur soccer player who died suddenly just a few days after playing for his club, Bellurgan United.
Ciaran Casey, 37, lined out for Bellurgan against local rivals in the Meath and District League, Rock Celtic, last weekend and was admitted to hospital on Thursday where he passed away 12 hours later from a blood clot on his brain. He will be laid to rest today.
According to today’s Irish Daily Star, doctors advised Ciaran’s family that he died from a rare, aggressive form of leukaemia which was never diagnosed. Dad-of-one Casey had complained of a swollen leg following Bellurgan’s match last weekend but it is not known if this triggered his underlying illness.
“Ciaran didn’t even know he was ill in any way,” said a source in today’s Star.
“He played the full game last Sunday. He got a small cut on his leg but he played on and there wasn’t a bother on him.
“He was down at training with his club last Tuesday, though he didn’t take part because his leg was sore.
“But he still expected to be fit to play again at the weekend. When he went to hospital on Thursday, it all happened so quick after that.”
Casey joined Bellurgan in 2000, playing with the club for a remarkable 15 years. On their Facebook page, Bellurgan said that "in grassroots football, it is impossible to put a value on someone like Ciaran Casey.
Ciaran Casey and Bellurgan celebrate winning the Nivea Cup in 2007.
"Ciaran Casey was a whole-hearted footballer who relished the element of competitiveness in a game and who met challenges head on in a fair, uncompromising manner, a truly inspirational figure.
"High amongst Ciaran's finest attributes was his beaming friendly smile allied with an appreciation for anything that was done for him and his fellow footballers.
"As an initial outsider to the Bellurgan area he quickly established a rapport with all club members through his friendly disposition and willingness to get involved in all aspects of the club. Ciaran was a worker who sold Blotto tickets, attended club fund raisers, carried goalposts before and after matches, swept out changing rooms and helped out anyway he could."
League of Ireland champions Dundalk led the tributes to Casey.
“Everybody at Dundalk Football Club joins the local football community in offering our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ciaran Casey. Ciaran was a very well respected footballer and family man who played for Bellurgan United. We were deeply saddened to hear of his sudden death at such a young age just days after playing a match.
“The players, staff, officials and supporters of Dundalk FC send our deepest sympathy to Ciaran’s wife Ciara, daughter Sarah, his parents, family, friends and everybody at Bellurgan FC.”
He will be laid to rest at the Church of the Holy Family in Dundalk today, followed by the burial at St Patrick’s Cemetery.