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 being missing for more than a week while traveling through Southern California.
Gary Reilly, 28, of Ballinlough, Co. Meath, was last seen on May 5 on a midnight bus traveling from Bakersfield to Los Angeles, a two-hour drive.
Friends knew he had made it to Santa Clarita on the outskirts of Los Angeles before he got off the bus, but he hadn’t been seen or heard from since.
A Los Angeles coroner’s report states that Mr. Reilly died on May 5. The circumstances of his death are not yet known.
Meanwhile, Mr Reilly’s former GAA club in Ballinlough recognized him not only as a talented sportsman but also as a gentle, fun-loving, popular young man who was “one of the nicest gentlemen you could ever meet”.
In a post on Ballinlough GAA’s Facebook today, a club member wrote: “I get so tired of writing these things but life is sometimes the cruelest game. I often wonder how the young people of Crossakiel and the surrounding area manage to get up and carry on after all the beatings they have taken in recent years and now we are being brought to our knees again.
“Gary Reilly was one of the nicest gentlemen one could ever meet, the only son of wonderful parents and a dear brother and uncle to his sister Suzanna and her children.
“Gary’s sporting life followed the same path as the others we lost far too soon, excelling at youth football, hurling and handball before making the step up to adult level and making a name for himself there too.
“He was part of the victorious Ballinlough Under-17 side that lifted the Division 4 title in 2011 and again for St.Oliver’s when they clinched an MFC in 2012 before competing regularly for the Lough at adult level and for a Air presence ensured in midfield and propelled our U-21 team to the 2014 final.
“He was also pivotal for the team that reached the Junior D final that same year where they narrowly lost to Clann na nGael, but he was to succeed as he was an important part of the team that won B’League Honours 2017
“He would also make his name in the 2018 Intermediate Championship as he regularly started and came on for Ballinlough and his point shortly after his appearance in the 2018 IFC semi-final was the kick starter for our boys who oversee Oldcastle and the booking of theirs place in the County Final.
“Gary was also known as an experienced slinger, having been on the outside line for the U-21 Championship-winning team Kilskyre/Moylagh in 2013 and being part of the IHC team that reached the semi-finals that same year. That team took it a step further in 2014 with Gary appearing as a full-back or corner forward throughout the season, but they fell just short as Dunderry won by three points on County Finals day.
“Handball was another love of Gary’s and how could it not be that his father and uncles have been instrumental in the establishment, development and support of Crossakiel Handball Club since its inception and Gary carried on the fine Reilly tradition of by taking to the pitch to represent the club during his teenage years,” the post reads.
“A tall, strong, imposing figure on the field belied the mild-mannered, fun-loving man that Gary was. He was a great man for a chat and a little craziness, and with a wanderlust for life he was as comfortable among strangers as he was with friends, of whom he had many.
“There are no words to describe the sorrow this friends and his family are feeling at this desperately sad time and we can only pray that somehow we can get off our knees and remember in time and cherish all the good times we had with Gary.
“He’s now gone to his buddies Ricky & Jimmy’s waiting arms and I have no doubt his uncle Hugh Sheen will have a pint of the black stuff waiting for him too.
“Rest in peace Gary, we will all remember you fondly and miss you so badly. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.”