The family of Ballinderry GAA star Aaron Devlin has been overwhelmed by the reaction to a fundraising jersey for Meningitis Now, in his honour.
The physiotherapist and talented footballer died at Antrim Area Hospital on July 30 after almost a week-long battle with the brain virus.
The former Derry and Ballinderry player was just 23, and his family’s plight touched the hearts of people across Ireland and the world.
Still trying to come to terms with his loss, Aaron’s brother Ronan said the jersey for Aaron is helping.
He, along with brother Coilin and Aaron’s friend Matthew Nelson, has been hard at work designing the jersey and trying to organise an order system.
“We’re obviously never going to get over it,” Ronan said of his brother’s death, “but we’re trying to learn to live with it.
“Behind it all, it’s keeping us busy and it’s keeping our mind off what happened.”
The idea of a jersey for Aaron came from his Australia-based friend Matthew, who approached Ronan and Coilin. The trio talked designs before floating the idea online.
As well as having Aaron’s age on the back, it will also feature “reminders of him”.
“The whole idea was, first of all, in memory of [Aaron],” Ronan explained, “a legacy you could see on young people around home. It would be nice to see his name about and [have] some sort of memento for us.
“The more we thought about it, we thought we would tie in fundraising for the Meningitis charity, in his memory.”
A decision they came to because of their support.
“Aaron’s was that fast, his illness, that they couldn’t really help enough,” Ronan went on. “But they’ve offered that much - they’ve offered grief counselling and stuff. We could see their value and we would like someone else to benefit from their services.”
Since sharing the news online, Ronan said they have been overwhelmed: “I put it up late on Thursday night and by Friday it had rocketed.
“Originally we thought it would be a small scale local job... but on Facebook there’s almost 700 comments, some ordering multiple jerseys. Lots of people text me outside Facebook as well. Pre-order we are guessing somewhere in the region of 1,000,” he added.
“That’s taking in the whole of Ireland, Australia, a lot from America. It’s nice too that so many local young people looked up to him and want to wear his jersey.”