30/08/2011

Sports World Faces Up To Tragedies

Sporting tragedies have been flooding Northern Ireland over the past few days with the NI Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín moved to express her sadness at a series of sporting deaths over the weekend.

She spoke out after Len Ganley, the legendary snooker referee, died at his home in Lurgan.

Commenting on the death, the Sinn Fein Minister said: "Len Ganley was undoubtedly one of the great characters in snooker and a very familiar face - well known even to those who had very little interest in the game.

"For someone not to be a player but still to be so universally recognised and respected says a lot about the man.

"Len Ganley was highly regarded for his professionalism as a referee and for his tireless charity fundraising. He did much for the sport he loved and will be sorely missed," she said, adding, "I wish to send my heartfelt condolences to his family."

The Minister added: "It has also been a sad weekend for the sport of motorcycling, with the tragic deaths of two riders in two separate events.

"Adrian McFarland died on Saturday in the Czech Republic and Wayne Hamilton died on Monday on the Isle of Man.

"Both were young men, with Wayne only starting out on a promising career in the sport. My sincere sympathies go out to both families at this very difficult time," she said.

The Minister further said: "It is also with great sadness that I learned of the tragic death of Ards cricketer Peter Ritchie.

"It is yet another death of a young sportsman in tragic circumstances and again my thoughts are with his family at this time," the Minister said.

One of the motorcyclists has since been described as an "up and coming superstar" by one of the sport's legends.

Wayne Hamilton, 20, from Portadown, died after a crash in the Junior Manx Grand Prix race on Monday.

He had won the Newcomers 'A' Race at the Manx Grand Prix on Saturday.

Phillip McCallen, who has 11 Isle of Man TT wins, told BBC NI that Mr Hamilton had been set to enter the "bigger league".

Meanwhile, the SDLP West Tyrone MLA Joe Byrne has said the local sporting community is shocked following the death of Plumbridge motorbike racer Adrian McFarland in a race in the Czech Republic.

Mr Byrne said his death was a shock to the local community and the sporting community.

"I would like to express my sympathies and those of the people I represent to not only Mr McFarland's family and close friends but also the local motorbike racing fraternity, a very close knit community.

"The motorbike community has had to deal with many tragedies yet this does not make it any easier to cope with," he said.

(BMcC/GK)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

04 November 2019
Other News In Brief
NIFRS Launches L'Derry Volunteer Programme The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service has launched a Volunteer programme at Crescent Link Fire Station in L'Derry. The programme is made up of 12 members of the public who volunteer their time to provide fire safety advice in their community.
14 May 2008
Maze 'Ignored' As UK Sports Cabinet Meets
While controversy continues to surround the proposed creation of a Northern Ireland Sports Stadium - most recently with news that local sports chiefs said there was no viable alternative to the original proposal for the former Maze prison outside Lisburn - a high profile delegation is today in Belfast to discuss Northern Ireland's overall sporting
02 May 2018
Suspicious Object Found In L'Derry
A suspicious object found in L'Derry has sparked a security alert. The object was discovered in the Drumleck Drive area just after 8am on Wednesday, 02 May. A number of people have been evacuated from their homes and police officers have sealed off the area. The residents are being accommodated in the Shantallow Community Centre.
03 October 2003
Former Sports Minister hits out at football comments
Former Sports Minister, Michael McGimpsey has hit out at comments made by the Alliance Party in which it said not enough was being done at club level to deal with the problem of sectarianism in Irish League football.
19 July 2011
Belfast Launches Olympic Countdown Events
Belfast City Council is to mark the one year countdown to the London 2012 Olympics with a weekend of events at the City Hall and Ormeau Park.