An avid Linfield and Northern Ireland fan with a life-threatening illness was able to meet one of his footballing heroes before he died.
Conor Ennis from Kircubbin passed away on Saturday in the Ulster Hospital with one of the highlights of his life coming in his last days when he received a visit from former Northern Ireland striker David Healy.
The 36-year-old, who was born with spina bifida, had never been to a Linfield game due to his condition but followed them passionately from afar.
His interest in the club became even more intense when his favourite NI player David Healy became manager.
Kevin Fox, whose wife is Conor’s cousin, set up the meeting with the help of Linfield chairman Roy McGivern.
Mr Fox said: “His sister had given him his Linfield goalkeeper’s top to put on just before they arrived and told him to expect a special visitor.
“He was in metaphorical heaven when he met David Healy.
“I don’t think there’s a single nurse or doctor in the hospital who wasn’t regaled with the story of David Healy coming to see him.
“We can’t thank the club enough for arranging the visit. Conor’s smile on the day said it all.”
The visit to Conor’s bedside in the Ulster Hospital involved manager Healy along with assistant manager Ross Oliver and kit man Gary Eccles.
Linfield chairman Mr McGivern said: “They brought him a signed Linfield top. His family contacted the club afterwards to say it really perked him up.
“They said it brought so much joy to Conor and the picture of the visit was pride of place in his room.
“It was the least we could do to help in some small way. We always like to think the club are a family.”
Linfield boss Healy, who is Northern Ireland’s leading goalscorer, had invited Conor to watch Linfield as a VIP guest but sadly his condition deteriorated further and he wasn’t able to accept the offer.
Conor had spent much of the last year in hospital being treated for leukaemia though he was not aware how serious his condition was and always maintained a cheery outlook.
His funeral is due to take place today at Mt St Joseph’s Church, Ballycran at noon.
He will be buried in the adjoining cemetery following Requiem Mass.
He was the son of the late Mary and a much-loved brother of Dolores, Siobhan and Fionnuala.
The family have said donations in lieu of flowers can be made to Cancer Research.