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Community 'numb with grief' as funeral of Monaghan under-20s GAA captain takes place

The 19-year-old died in a car crash last Friday night.

Mourners attend the funeral for Monaghan GAA U20 star Brendan Og Duffy at St McCartan's Cathedral in Monaghan town.
Mourners attend the funeral for Monaghan GAA U20 star Brendan Og Duffy at St McCartan's Cathedral in Monaghan town.
Image: PA

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid today to under-20s Monaghan GAA captain Brendan Ógie Ó Dufaigh, whose funeral took place this morning.

The 19-year-old was killed in a car crash in Clontibret on Friday night, just hours after he had captained Monaghan’s football U20 side to victory in an Ulster championship semi-final against Donegal.

Ahead of the service, teammates formed a guard of honour as the young footballer’s coffin, draped in a Monaghan flag, was carried into the church.

At his funeral this morning at St Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan, mourners heard the community is “numb with grief”.

“Today we have many questions; we have the whys, the hows and the where,” the Canon Paddy McGinn said in his homily.

“The hows; how could this happen to Ógie? The wheres; where are you, God today? Pious platitudes are not much use to us at this time. We know we cannot solve the mystery. 

“All we can do is huddle in grief around the remains of shattered dreams and what might have been.”

brendan-og-duffy-funeral The Order of Service as mourners attend the funeral for Monaghan GAA U20 star Brendan Og Duffy at St McCartan's Cathedral in Monaghan town. Source: PA

Ó Dufaigh was selected captain of the Monaghan minor team in 2018 with 24 out of 29 on the team voting for him.

After matches the Ó Dufaigh household was often the headquarters of the team and “at one stage nine kit bags were counted in the hallway after a particular match”.

He was the only player that ever played every minute of every match in the league and in the championship that year. A substitute on an opposing team was introduced in a league match, let’s say to limit or to restrict Ógie’s influence on the game – in other words, take him out. But that substitute probably regretted his approach to Ógie and came out second best of that particular altercation.

This year he was selected as captain of the 2021 under-20s team. 

Despite his talent, he was always humble, the church heard.

“He never played up a match or a game, all he would ever say was; ‘I had a good enough game’. That was the only compliment he could give to himself himself.”

Symbols brought to the altar included a cross and chain depicting his faith, a hammer to represent his work in Kingspan, football jerseys and a family portrait, as he was described as “a source of fun and laughter to all family members”.

Mourners heard of Ó Dufaigh’s dedication to his faith, serving as an alter server as a boy at the church in which his funeral took place. He had his rosary beads and cross in the side pocket of his kit bag last Friday night, Canon McGinn said. 

“He lived his faith by a life of love and care and kindness for you, his family, and all around him.”

Canon McGinn said the 19-year-old was a hard worker, not just on the pitch.

“When Covid restrictions were introduced in March 2020, and schools closed, he phoned Grove Turkeys and started working with them the following morning at 6 o’clock,” he said.

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“He stayed there until the holidays were announced in July. Ógie was not interested in holidays, and he moved to Kingspan the following day, were he worked until last Thursday.

“When closed for Covid after Christmas, he moved to welding iron gates until Kingspan reopened. He was a hard worker, working 12 hour shifts.

“He would come home at 6.30, eat his daily steak and two turkey burgers while the other family members were reduced to mince. He still managed to make the County GAA Centre at Cloghan or the Harps grounds here in town for training at 8 o’clock. Ógie used his home gym on the seldom night he had no training.”

brendan-og-duffy-funeral Mourners attend the funeral for Monaghan GAA U20 star Brendan Og Duffy at St McCartan's Cathedral in Monaghan town. Source: PA

Mel McMorrow, Vice Chair of the Monaghan Harps GAA club, speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland earlier, said the community has seen “an outpouring of grief on a scale we never thought was possible”.

“It gives us a measure of how highly regarded Ógie was but also how much he was loved, he is irreplaceable.”

“There was always a bit of divilment about Ógie, he was always at the centre of any craic going on, he had a lovely smile that made you feel genuinely glad to meet him. More than that Ógie was a wonderful young man who added to every life that he touched,” he said.

We all feel very privileged to have been part of his life. Ógie had the ability to always make time for people, he was equally chatty to young and old, he made everyone feel like they were his friend, it’s very hard to describe.

“Something we noticed from a very young age was that his teammates naturally gravitated towards him, I’ve never seen it before and I don’t think I’ll ever seen it again. I think he was a born leader. Not a man for big, extravagant speeches or thumping tables but when he led others followed. Every young person in our club idolised him and every person wanted to be him.”

GAA president Larry McCarthy attended the mass while Taoiseach Micheal Martin was represented by Defence Forces Commandant Caroline Burke.

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