Heartbroken teammates of a young GAA player killed in a horror road crash formed a guard of honour at his funeral in Co Tyrone yesterday (Tuesday).
Maurice McCloughan from Fintona and Killian Doherty from Drumquin, both aged 19, died following a crash on the main A5 road between Omagh and Ballygawley on Saturday at around 8am.
The childhood friends, both promising GAA players, had been staying in Greencastle on Friday night and had made the early morning trip home as Mr Doherty was due to work, it has been reported.
The two communities have been plunged into sadness as family and friends struggle to come to terms with their tragic deaths.
And their deaths have sparked a petition for an urgent upgrade to the A5 ‘before any more lives are lost’.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at St Lawrence’s Church in the village of Fintona, about eight miles outside Omagh, to pay their respects as Mr McCloughan was laid to rest.
Both men were well-known in GAA circles – with Mr McCloughan a member of Fintona Pearses and Mr Doherty a senior footballer with Drumquin GAA.
As a tribute to Mr Doherty, members of Fintona Pearses GAC and Fiotona Swifts FC formed guards of honour as the funeral cortege passed by.
Members of Drumquin GAA were also in attendance, with many wearing their football tops as a mark of respect.
There was applause from many of the footballers as the funeral procession made its way from the chapel.
Sinn Fein MLA Barry McElduff, who attended the funeral, said: “The strength of the Fintona community was evident today.
“This double tragedy has touched a whole generation of young people, not just in these two communities, but all over Tyrone.
“It was clear to see at the funeral that the young people who knew Maurice have been deeply affected.
“Everyone stands in solidarity and sympathy with both the McCloughan and Doherty families.”
In a statement, Mr McCloughan’s family said “no words exist to explain the pain”.
They added: “Maurice was the life and soul of every party and loved a good jump about the dance floor.
“It gives us some comfort that Maurice has Killian up there with him.”
Mr Doherty’s funeral will be held tomorrow at St Patrick’s Church, Drumquin at 11am.
The death of Mr Doherty is the second tragedy the family have suffered, with the Irish News reporting that his cousin was killed in a road crash in Co Donegal a year ago.