A GAA club has paid a glowing tribute to former footballer, hurler and handball player Gary Reilly who was tragically found dead in Los Angeles.
r Reilly was found after going missing for more than a week while travelling around Southern California.
Gary Reilly (28), from Ballinlough, Co Meath, was last seen on a midnight bus on May 5 travelling from Bakersfield to Los Angeles, a journey of two hours.
Friends were aware he made it to Santa Clarita on the outskirts of Los Angeles before getting off the bus but he had not been seen or heard from since.
A report from the Los Angeles coroner states that Mr Reilly died on May 5. The circumstances of his death are not as yet known.
Meanwhile, Mr Reilly’s former GAA club in Ballinlough paid tribute to him as not only a talented sportsman, but a gentle, fun-loving, popular young man who was “one of the nicest gentlemen you could ever meet.”
In a post on the Ballinlough GAA’s Facebook today, a club member wrote: “I’m growing so weary of writing these things but life is the cruellest game sometimes. I often wonder how the young people of Crossakiel and the surrounding areas manage to get up and keep going after all the blows they have taken over the last few years, and now we are being knocked to our knees all over again.
“Gary Reilly was one of the nicest gentlemen you could ever meet, the only son to wonderful parents and adored brother and uncle to his sister Suzanna and her children.
“Gary’s sporting life followed the same path as those others we lost far too soon, excelling at underage football, hurling and handball before making the step up to adult level and making his mark there too.
“He was a part of the victorious U-17 Ballinlough side that claimed the Division 4 title in 2011 and again for St.Oliver’s when they claimed a MFC in 2012, before regularly lining out for the Lough at adult level, providing an aerial presence in midfield and propelling our U-21 side to their Final of 2014.
“He was also pivotal on the team that reached the Junior D Final of the same year where they narrowly lost out to Clann na nGael, but he was to taste success when he was an instrumental part of the team that claimed B’League Honours in 2017.
“He was to make his mark in the Intermediate Championship of 2018 too when he regularly started or came off the bench for Ballinlough, and his point shortly after being introduced in the 2018 IFC Semi-Final was the kickstarter to our lads over- seeing Oldcastle and booking their place in the County Final.
“Gary was also known as a skilled hurler lining out at wing back on the U-21 Championship winning Kilskyre/Moylagh team of 2013 and was a part of the IHC team that reached the Semi-Final stage the same year. That team went one step further in 2014 with Gary featuring at wing back or corner forward throughout the campaign but they were to fall just short as Dunderry held on to win by three points on County Final day.
“Handball was another love of Gary’s, and how couldn’t it be with his father and uncles all instrumental in the construction, development and support of Crossakiel Handball Club since it’s inception, and Gary maintained the fine Reilly tradition by taking to the court to represent the club throughout his teenage years,” the post read.
“A tall, strong imposing figure on the field belied the gentle natured and fun loving man that was Gary. He was a great man for a chat and a bit of craic, and with a wanderlust for life he was equally comfortable amongst strangers as he was friends, of which he had many.
“There are no words to describe the grief that those friends and his family are feeling at this desperately sad time and we can only pray that somehow we will once again lift ourselves up off our knees, and in time we will be able to remember and cherish all the good times we had with Gary.
“He’s gone above now to the waiting arms of his buddies Ricky & Jimmy and I’ve no doubt his uncle Hugh Sheen will have a pint of the black stuff waiting for him too.
“Rest in Peace Gary, you will be fondly remembered and so sadly missed by all of us. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”