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18 Aug 2022

Tributes paid following the death of 'inspirational' County Derry Gael

Colm McGurk's GAA club announced the news this evening.

Tributes paid following the death of 'inspirational' County Derry Gael

Lavey legend Colm McGurk.

Tributes have been paid online following the death of 'inspirational' County Derry Gael Colm McGurk.

Mr McGurk's GAA club, Erin's Own Lavey, posted news of his death via social media this evening, sparking an outpouring of grief for the popular Gulladuff man.

"The words 'Collie has passed' has spread across our community today," they said.

"Erin's Own Lavey are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Colm McGurk. The thoughts and prayers of our entire community are with his wife, Sinéad, daughters Orla, Aoife and Méabh, his son John, and the entire McGurk family."

The club outlined the distinguished sporting achievements that Colm achieved won in both football and hurling; four Derry senior football championships, twelve senior hurling championships, two Ulster club football championships and one All-Ireland senior club football championship.

Also a decorated player with Queen's University Belfast, Mr McGurk won a Sigerson medal and was selected on the combined universities hurling team, while with Derry he won Ulster and All-Ireland football championships and Ulster hurling championships.

However, the club said 'Collie's' influence reached much further than simply his playing achievements.

"Despite being an All-Ireland winner with club and county, Collie McGurk represents something greater than sport and Gaelic games," they said.

"With his insatiable spirit, energy and lust for life, Collie McGurk was not made for defeat in any walk of life. No challenge, big or small, ever went unmet and his focus was always on the next challenge, the next task. On tomorrow. 

"Having managed Derry senior hurlers, Collie was currently guiding a group of young Lavey minor hurlers on a path he had journeyed, playing a game he had so much passion for.

"Director of an award-winning firm of architects, Collie McGurk literally transformed the modern landscape of our club, our community and many similar communities throughout Ulster and Ireland.

"No words will ever do justice to the life and memory of Colm McGurk, but we must try. A brave, generous, determined, talented, kind, altruistic, inspirational and loving man with an irresistible life force has left us.

"His unbreakable spirit and legacy of service to his family, community and county will endure."

Collie McGurk closing in to make the hook on Antrim's John Carson in the 1999 Ulster SHC final at Casement Park, Belfast. Pic by Matt Browne/Sportsfile.

Derry GAA Chairperson John Keenan led the county's tributes to Mr McGurk, describing him as a 'giant of Derry GAA'.

"His ambition for his club and county matched his energy and drive to improve and develop our community and its people," he said.

"Colm McGurk's influence can be found on the blueprints of many areas of the GAA in Derry and Ulster.

"An All-Ireland winner with Derry in 1993 and an Ulster hurling winner in 2000, our former senior hurling manager, a competition sponsor and the chief architect on the Owenbeg complex opened in 2013, Colm had been working with Derry GAA in recent months on plans to further progress our facilities at Owenbeg for player development.

"Colm McGurk brought energy and passion to everything that he did. He was terrific company and will be very sadly missed.

"On behalf of Derry GAA, I want to offer our deepest sympathies to Sinead and the family of Colm McGurk, as well as to the wider community of Erin's Own Lavey."

Clubs around Derry have also begun to add their own tributes, with St Colm's Ballinascreen describing him as a 'true Gael' and Magherafelt, where Mr McGurk's daughter Meabh played senior football, said his 'passion and enthusiasm were infectious'.

Queen's University GAA Club said they were 'saddened' to learn of Mr McGurk's passing.

"Collie was a fierce competitor and wholehearted player who achieved significant success on and off the fields of play," they said.

"By 1990, he was a dual star in intervarsity championships, and he scored a goal from wing half forward in the Sigerson Cup Final against St Mary’s in Santry that year (emulating his brother Anthony’s success 19 years earlier).

"Collie also featured in six Fitzgibbon Cup campaigns, including the 1986 finals vs UCC.

"The McGurk family are one of the great dynasties of Gaelic Football, and we are proud of their extensive association with Queen’s.

"We appreciate that this is heartbreaking news for them, his club and county and all who knew Collie. We extend our sympathy to his wife Sinéad, his daughters Orla, Aoife and Meabh, his son John, and to the entire McGurk family circle."

The most profound words came from Lavey Chairperson Paddy Chivers.

"Pound for pound he was probably the bravest Lavey man of all time," he said.

Funeral arrangements for Mr McGurk will follow.

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