Family speak of heartache over death of cyclist

Francis Doone

Francis Doone

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The family of Francis Doone have described how their world fell apart after the sudden death of the Glenavy GAA manager.

Francis Doone (51) from Gawley’s Gate is believed to have suffered a heart attack as he took part in a memorial cycle event outside Newtownhamilton. Days previously Mr Doone saw his Glenavy side defeat Dunloy in the Antrim Intermediate Championship final.

“To say goodbye to him is the most agonising thing we have and probably will ever have to do, and our lives will never be the same again”

He was cycling with a group from Lissummon Cycling Club when he collapsed on the main Newry Road outside, around 12.45pm. He was given CPR at the scene before being rushed to hospital, but he passed away a short time later.

On her Facebook page, his daughter Deirdre described her father as her ‘hero.’

“In the space of a week, our world has been completely turned upside down,” she said. “Daddy was our rock, the life and soul of our family, the peace keeper, the messer, the worker, the joy, and the wisest man, all at once.

“To say goodbye to him is the most agonising thing we have and probably will ever have to do, and our lives will never be the same again.

“But amid this heartbreak, we have come to see so much good in people, and are overwhelmed by the love and support that we have received.

“We are so blessed to be part of a wonderful community of people and everyone had their part to play in giving big Francie the send off he deserved, whether it be Glenavy GAC, Aldergrove, Aghagallon, old friends and new friends alike.”

She went onto say, “Daddy’s death is such a shock to us all, and it makes us think about how we appreciate the people we have in our lives.

“We will never know the moment or the hour that God will call us to be with him.

“What I can say for our family, is that daddy knew how loved he was, and we knew the love our daddy had for us in return - unconditional love.

“A man of goodness and holiness, but in a quiet and humble way, never wanting the thanks or the glory. What a gift it was to witness this.

“It’s hard to see any explanation or reason in daddy’s death, and it’s probably true that the most difficult days are yet to come for us as a family as the reality of his passing kicks in.

“This life is just a stepping stone. We are only passing through.”

She concluded, “Myself, mother Geraldine, my two sisters Chloe and Erin, and the wider Doone family, will be forever grateful for the love and support shown to us.”