Darryl Heatley R.I.P.
By Seamus McAleenan:
The Tír na nÓg club in Randalstown and the wider GAA community in Antrim
has been plunged into shock and sadness as news spread on Wednesday
evening of the sudden death of Darryl Heatley at just 38 years of age.
Darryl had represented the club in both hurling and football right
through the age-groups to senior level, and captained many of their
teams through his career.
His potential as an outstanding under-age hurler was recognised in his
early teens and he represented Antrim through to minor level. At
schools’ level he was a leading player for St Louis Ballymena in both
codes, winning a Colleges’ All-star at left-half back in hurling in
1998, the same year that he wore the same number 7 in Croke Park for the
school in the All-Ireland Colleges’ Senior B football final.
Alongside his brothers Cathal and Connor he was the mainstay of the Tír
na nÓg senior team for almost two decades, following in the well-worn
footsteps of their father Leo, their uncles and of course their
grandfather Bobby who was one of the key men keeping hurling going in
the club more than half a century ago.
Darryl made huge contributions through campaigns that netted an Antrim
Intermediate football title at the turn of the Millennium, an Antrim
Junior hurling title in 2002 and latterly in 2013 an Ulster Division 2
hurling title. He was the 2002 winning hurling captain.
When he stepped away from the playing, he coached the Creggan camogie
side to the Antrim Intermediate final in 2015 alongside his father Leo
with whom he enjoyed a special father-son relationship centred around
the camán and sliotar. He was most recently involved with his cousin
Robert Graham in taking the Tír na nÓg minor hurlers.
The Heatley name is closely linked to the game of hurling in Tír na nÓg
and they have made a big contribution to the GAA. Before Leo had
finished his playing career he was a respected referee, officiating at
all levels in Antrim and on the Ulster schools’ circuit in all codes.
Leo also served several terms as club chairman, Chairman of south-west
Antrim GAA Council and delegate to the County Board. Darryl seemed to be
preparing to make a similar contribution before his untimely passing.
Darryl will be missed by the whole Tír na nÓg club and the wider GAA
community, but will be more sorely missed by his family, his wife of
less than four years, Oonagh (née Kearney), his parents Leo and
Geraldine, brothers Cathal and Connor, sister Leona (Doran), the wider
Heatley, Kearney, O’Loan and Walsh families and his many friends.
Darryl’s funeral Mass will take place on Sunday at 2pm in St MacNissi’s
Church Randalstown with burial immediately afterwards in the adjoining
We at the Saffron Gael extend our sympathy at this sad time.
Leaba i measc na laochra Gael go raibh aige.