TRIBUTES have been paid to a young Irishman who passed away in Australia at the weekend, just days after arriving from Ireland.
Matthew McGuigan, 24, from Co. Tyrone died on Saturday after falling ill, having only arrived in Sydney during the previous week.
Tributes have since flooded in for the former Tyrone Minor footballer, while a fundraiser to support his family has raised more than £40,000.
'The best of us'
Mr McGuigan's former club Kildress Wolfe Tones described him as a 'shining light' as they expressed their shock at his passing.
"Our Club and Parish are now dark places following the totally traumatising death of our so dear Mattie McGuigan," they posted on Facebook about the Cookstown native.
"Our shining light and Captain on the field of play, and bringing distinction to us with the badge of honour that is the Tyrone jersey, Mattie maintained those unrivalled standards off it.
"He managed underage teams, helped with events, sat on our Committee, represented our players, sold tickets across Ulster in our record-breaking draw, and even chaired the elections at last week's AGM.
"And all with the class, style, wisdom, good-naturedness, humour and integrity that others take decades to develop — if ever. Gifted with talent that he then carried so well.
“He brought our Club, and everybody in it or associated with it, joy, delight, leadership, example, fun, and hard, hard work. Just the best of us."
It is with deep regret and profound sadness that Coiste Chontae Thír Eoghain has learned of the death of Matthew McGuigan, Cill Dreasa.
Is le croí trom agus mórbhrón a d'fhoghlaim Coiste Chontae Thír Eoghain faoi bhás Mhaitiú Mhig Uiginn, Cill Dreasa.
Matty represented Tyrone… pic.twitter.com/I0d5li7Z0J
— Tyrone GAA (@TyroneGAALive) December 2, 2023
Cormac McAnallens, the club Mr McGuigan was to play for in Sydney, are to hold a memorial Mass on Thursday to pay their respects and provide support for the Irish community in the city.
In a statement, the club said that in his short time in Australia, Mr McGuigan 'touched the lives of many that were fortunate enough to have encountered him'.
"Matty's love for Gaelic football and his extreme talent was one of many qualities he was well known for," it added.
"His commitment and dedication to the game was to be admired by many and we all were looking forward to him being our team mate and part of our club.
"Matthew will forever leave an imprint on the hearts of all those that knew him and his charming smile and kindness will be greatly missed."
Meanwhile, Tyrone GAA described Mr McGuigan as an 'extraordinary' player.
"Matty represented Tyrone as a member of the County Minor squad in 2017 and since then had developed into one of the County's most outstanding forwards with his club Kildress Wolfe Tones," read a statement.
"Matty's contributions to his team were nothing short of extraordinary, and his legacy as a player will forever be etched in the hearts of those who had the privilege of witnessing his prowess on the field.
"His commitment to the game and his unwavering spirit has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on Kildress Wolfe Tones and the broader community in Tyrone."
An online fundraiser to support Mr McGuigan’s family has so far raised £42,000, exceeding its £3,000 goal.
"The McGuigan family are all in our thoughts and prayers," read the GoFundMe appeal.
"We would like to help them out in any way we can as no words can express the sorrow and the heartache we feel for them after receiving the terrible news of Matty's untimely passing."
Thursday’s memorial service is being held at St Brigid's Church in Coogee, Sydney at 6.30pm local time (7.30am GMT).
Those in Ireland can watch the service online from 6.25pm AEDT (7.25am GMT) by clicking here.
Donations to the GoFundMe can be made by clicking here.