BY CHRIS MCNULTY
SUNDAY’S Donegal Intermediate Championship final between Naomh Muire and St Naul’s has been called off as a mark of respect to tragic Conor Boyle.
The 18-year old from Loughanure, who had been an active player with Naomh Muire’s minor and reserve teams this year, died last Friday after a brave two-week battle with injuries sustained in a road traffic accident. Conor had been working in London since completing his Leaving Certificate in June.
His car left the road and struck a lorry and a tree while he was travelling to Doncaster from his work in Surrey. He died, with his parents Hugh and Sheila by his bedside, at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
His funeral takes place in Annagry at 1pm on Sunday. The Intermediate final was scheduled for Sunday at 4pm.
“It’s one of those things that puts sport into perspective,” Naomh Muire manager Danny O’Donnell said.
“There is a black cloud hanging over our community. One of our own, young lads has passed away in tragic circumstances. Sport just has to take a back seat at times like this. We’ll be very respectful of the family and of the situation the parish and the community is in.”
The Naomh Muire manager and squad had been preparing for a game – until it was confirmed this afternoon that it was being postponed.
Mr O’Donnell said: “We have a few lads in particular who would have been very close to Conor and who would have played minor, underage with him through the years.
“I took time out to speak to them individually and gave them the option of not training. We didn’t put any pressure on them, but they all turned up to training. They did it in honour of their friend.
“Everyone will deal with the situation in their own way. The lads have to go through the grieving process and it’ll be a new experience for them.
“Sport plays a huge part in society and I’m a firm believer that sport is a great thing to be involved in. It takes your mind off the turmoils of life. It’s a great outlet. Lads grieving may well find the game as a crutch to lean on.”
Mr Boyle was the third eldest in a family of six.
Naomh Muire’s opponents in the Intermediate final, St Naul’s are no strangers to tragedy themselves. In Decmeber 2007, father and son Liam and Conor Kennedy died from hypothermia when their boat capsised in Donegal Bay.
“As a club, we would like to pay tribute to the Naomh Muire club and remember Conor Boyle – we know what they must be going through as we had a tragedy ourselves to deal with in 2007,” St Naul’s manager Brian McCabe said.
The Intermediate Reserve final between Downings and St Naul’s has also been called off.
The Intermediate Reserve and Intermediate football finals will now take place on Sunday October 13.
Meanwhile, the Senior Reserve Championship final between Gaoth Dobhair and Naomh Conaill will now take place on Saturday at 3pm in O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny. The game had originally been fixed for Naomh Muire’s home ground at The Banks.
The Gaoth Dobhair-Naomh Conaill game will be preceded by the Under 16 League Division 1 semi-final between the same clubs.