Aghalee man dies during cycling event

Francie Doone.
Francie Doone.

Tributes were paid to Glenavy GAA manager Francis Doone, described as a ‘true giant of a man with a heart of gold,’ who died suddenly following a charity cycle in Newry on Sunday.

Francis (51) of Derryola Bridge Road in Aghalee, is believed to have suffered a suspected heart attack just days after the St Joseph’s GAA team won a major trophy beating Dunloy in the Antrim Intermediate Championship final.

A plumber by trade and former midfield player at the club, Francis was also manager of the senior team.

He died while taking part in the ‘Ride On For Raff’ memorial charity cycle event in aid of Leukaemia Research on the Newry Road, outside Newtownhamilton, at around 12.45pm. He was a member of the Apollo Cycling Team.

Despite efforts to revive him he was taken to hospital, but sadly died a short time later.

A spokesperson from St Joseph’s GAA club said: “At least half of the championship panel had been coached by Francie.

“He was a role model in the club and always kept himself superbly fit, never drank or smoked and was respected by everyone in the club. Always willing to help anyone at any time.”

The spokesperson continued, “The club members would like to pass on their condolences to his wife Geraldine and daughters Breige, Chloe and Erin. Also our condolences to his parents James and Gemma.”

Chairman of Apollo Cycling Team Paul McCormac said Francis, was a ‘lovely man and great character within the club,’ “He will be sadly missed by all his friends at Apollo,“ he said.

His funeral was on Wednesday at St. Joseph’s, Glenavy.