THE heartbroken family of a Clonoe student who died after being struck by a stolen car in Liverpool two years ago, say they have taken comfort from the glowing tributes made to him by his large circle of friends.
Andrew O’Neill, aged 20, had been studying at John Moores University in the city for just over a month when he was fatally injured while returning from a night out.
Now, as his family prepare to mark the occasion of his second anniversary, fond memories of the popular and bubbly young man continue to give them comfort.
A chartered surveying student, Andrew was also a talented hurler, having played as a minor for the Tyrone team, as well as helping his local club, Naomh Colum Cille, to win their first ever county honours in 2005.
At the time of his tragic death, Andrew’s former coach, Eamonn McGirr, said the young man was “one of life’s true characters”.
“He was the life and soul of the dressing room”, explained Mr McGirr.
“He was a gifted hurler and loved the sport; he even played for the university. No-one can believe what has happened.”
Countless tributes to Andrew, fondly known as ‘Chubby’, have also been left on a Facebook page dedicated to his memory.
Mairead Doyle and Shona McAleer, fellow students living in the Atlantic Point halls, off Leeds Street, said: “We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Chubby’s family and friends back at home.
“Knowing Andrew has been an absolute pleasure. We will never forget his brilliant sense of humour and great outlook on life.
“There was never a dull moment when Chubby was around, he was always up for the ‘craic’.
“Atlantic Point won’t be the same without him. He will live on in our memories forever.
“A true friend and one of the kindest lads about.”
Flatmates of the building surveying student – Connlith Magee, Natasha McGinn and Aisling McArdle – said: “He’s only been gone now a few days and our flat isn’t the same without him. We hadn’t known him long but in the time that we did spend with him it felt like we’d known him for years.”