‘An amazing footballer who looked out for all’

Kevin's remains are carried into a packed St Mary's Church in Tamnaherin  on Tuesday.
Kevin's remains are carried into a packed St Mary's Church in Tamnaherin on Tuesday.

Kevin King was an amazingly talented footballer who treated everyone with respect and packed a lot into his short life, mourners at his funeral have been told.

St Mary’s Church in Tamnaherin was packed to capacity as hundreds upon hundreds turned out despite the driving rain to pay their last respects to the popular 22-year-old.

The late Slaughtmanus GAA player Kevin King pictured here in the 2014 Championship final. Photo by Dessie Loughery

The late Slaughtmanus GAA player Kevin King pictured here in the 2014 Championship final. Photo by Dessie Loughery

Slaughtmanus GAA player Kevin died suddenly after collapsing just minutes into an indoor soccer game in Campsie on Thursday night.

Club officials and members were stationed along the route as the funeral cortege made its way to the church, passing by the clubhouse and pitches when Kevin had honed his skills since boyhood.

Boys and girls from the club, in their green jerseys, formed a guard of honour at the entrance to the church, standing with their arms draped around each other’s shoulders and heads bowed as the coffin passed by.

Fr. Noel McDermott, in his Homily, said that Kevin’s parents John and Margaret, elder brother Martin and wider family “deeply appreciate the prompt attention he was given at Campsie on Thursday evening, and by the ambulance staff and paramedics who brought him to Altnagelvin Hospital where, under the wonderful direction of Mr McNeil, every possible assistance was rendered by the medical team there in the attempt to save his life”.

The funeral procession makes its way past Slaughtmanus GAC, where Kevin was a player.

The funeral procession makes its way past Slaughtmanus GAC, where Kevin was a player.

“There is great comfort,” he added, “in knowing that everything that could have been done was done.”

Speaking about Kevin’s talent, Fr McDermott said: “God gifted Kevin with an amazing skill as a footballer and he developed that skill to near enough perfection.

“Kevin’s very presence on the pitch seemed to energise and encourage his team mates.

“He was a source of great encouragement to the younger people in the club too.”

St Mary's GAA Slaughmanus club officials and marshals pictured along the route as Kevin King's remains are brought to St Mary's Church in Tamnaherin for Funeral Mass.

St Mary's GAA Slaughmanus club officials and marshals pictured along the route as Kevin King's remains are brought to St Mary's Church in Tamnaherin for Funeral Mass.

“But”, he added, “Football was not Kevin’s only gift. God also gifted him with a kindly, thoughtful nature; with an ability to get to know people and make friends with them; with an unassuming personality; with a lovely sense of his own worth that allowed him to treat everyone with courtesy and respect and to look out for anyone who might be feeling excluded or left out.”

To smiles from those in the congregation who knew Kevin well, Fr McDermott also related: “Of course God also blessed Kevin with good looks- the family were telling me that when he would be going out he would be so particular about his appearance and what he was wearing. And then when he was ready he would come into the living room and say to his mother, ‘tell me this - am I beautiful or am I beautiful!’

Fr McDermott spoke of the health condition which had meant Kevin had had to stop playing gaelic earlier this year.

“The past number of months had been an anxious time for Kevin as he worried about his health and its implications for his career as a footballer,” he said.

He also related how Kevin’s aunt Geraldine had given him a Miraculous Medal that belonged to his granny Proctor and he wore this along with a Scapular all the time.

“And of Thursday evening,” Fr McDermott said, “as he was about to leave this world and return to God, in whom he so firmly believed, Kevin received the Last Sacraments of the Church. He was still wearing his Miraculous Medal and his Scapular around his neck.”

Burial took place afterwards on Tuesday afternoon in the cemetery adjoining St Mary’s Church.