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‘GENTLE GIANT’ COLLAPSED AT TRAINING
By JOHN MANNING
Tuesday September 06 2011
SKERRIES is mourning the sudden and tragic loss of a ‘ gentle giant’ who died training for the sport he loved, leaving a soccer club and an entire community in shock. Skerries Town FC has never seen a darker day than last Thursday, when the much-loved Derek Earley, who had played for the club since he was a child, collapsed and died at a light training session. His teammates, club officials, local doctors and paramedics all made desperate attempts to save him but to no avail and later that night on Thursday, September 1, the young footballer was declared dead at Beaumont Hospital. John Gahan, a committee member at Skerries Town, described the feeling the club since the tragic incident, saying: ‘Everyone has been in total shock since this happened. It is a very close club and it has affected the whole community,’ he said. ‘Derek was a big gentle giant who always had a smile on his face and was genuinely popular with everyone who knew him, not only in football, but everywhere he went.’ A ‘GENTLE giant’ is how Derek Earley has been described as the soccer community came together to mourn the loss of the Skerries Town player who tragically collapsed and died during a training session for the club. A routine training session last Thursday turned to tragedy when Derek Earley, who had played for the club since he was a child, collapsed while jogging. John Gahan, a committee member at Skerries Town, described the awful scenes as team-mates and club officials rushed to help the young man after retrieving a defibrillator from the nearby community centre. ‘Derek had been playing indoors for an hour before training which was normal for him and then he went on to training. ‘It was a light session with no real heavy lifting because most of the hard work had been done already. ‘He was just jogging around the field and he collapsed. The lads got a defibrillator from the community centre and tried to bring him round, but they just couldn’t bring him back.’ Soon two local doctors came on the scene and an ambulance arrived quickly and sped off to Beaumont Hospital while medics continued to try to revive him but to no avail. John said that far from showing any signs of ill health before the tragic incident, Derek had been in the form of his life and had a ‘fantastic preseason’. ‘He was in better shape than he’s been for five or six years – he was flying,’ the shocked club official said. The coroner is yet to judge what happened to the Skerries player, but inevitable comparisons are being made to the Sudden Adult Death Syndrome incidents that have plagued sport in recent years, most notably with the high profile death of Conor McAnallen. John said that Derek’s death was being felt across the whole community and thanked the local soccer community for their support since the tragic incident. A huge funeral marked Derek’s passing on Monday, which John described as a ‘ massive tribute’ to the young man. ‘Everyone has been in total shock since this happened. It is a very close club and it has affected the whole community,’ he said. ‘Derek was a big gentle giant who always had a smile on his face and was genuinely popular with everyone who knew him, not only in football, but everywhere he went. ‘He had a wide circle of friends and he loved his football and even the lads who played against him would say the same about him – there was no badness in him.’ John summed up the feelings of many in Skerries and beyond when he gave the sympathies of the club to Derek’s family and said: ‘Life will go on and football will go on I suppose but his family have lost a lad who was very dear to them and who was very dear to all of us.’
– JOHN MANNING
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