By Noel BakerSenior Reporter and Social Affairs Correspondent
Amid the hoop dreams and life goals, words to stop you right in your tracks: “I would give absolutely everything just to spend just one more minute with him.”
The tragic and unexpected death of Liam Chandler, a talented young sportsman who had already represented his country at basketball, has shaken many in Cork sporting circles, but the tribute paid to him yesterday by his friend, Ciaran Adams, highlighted the visceral sense of loss felt among his peers.
Ciaran plays with St Michael’s GAA Club and Liam was making his name with Neptune on the basketball court, but the moving tribute posted on Instagram showed that the pair had more than sport in common.
“Lost a county final by a point and also lost an unbelievable friend in the same weekend,” it began.
“Depression is such a strange thing that can hit absolutely anyone, at any time, and the worst thing is that nobody will ever know about it unless you tell them. For me to lose a friend and not know what he went through, not know his suffering, not understand his thoughts, is soul-destroying.”
The post was shared by St Michael’s GAA and quickly went viral. Alongside it was a Facebook page, ‘Remembering Liam Chandler’, and fond words of remembrance and condolence from any number of local sports clubs.
Many were directed at Neptune Basketball Club, which, in a post on its Facebook page, said: “Everyone at the club is heartbroken.”
It also posted a photograph of Liam’s clubmates on the court, aligned behind a homemade shrine bearing his number 32 jersey and candles below it proclaiming ‘Liam 32’. Liam was laid to rest on Sunday in his native Lisgoold following a funeral Mass in the local church.
That same sense of flickering light in the gloom was apparent in Ciaran’s words.
“I would give absolutely everything just to spend just one more minute with him,” the young man wrote. “Speaking out is the most important thing of all and even though it’s hard, people will respect you so much more after and will only think about how brave you were.
“Sport helps so much with that. Playing with teams are as close as family. Winning, losing, celebrating, suffering. It all helps because even when you lose the biggest of games ye’re all still together as one, not alone, not isolated, not left hurting, because you’re still part of something. You either heal as a team, or crumble as individuals.
“Rest in peace Liam, it’ll never be the same sitting in a classroom without you but I hope you’re looking down on us happy at last.
“You’ll always be remembered as a giant of the game.”
No doubt true, and if the powerful words written in his honour are any guide, he’s not alone.
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