Two young GAA players killed in single-vehicle accident

TWO young Donegal GAA players were killed in a horrific road accident in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The victims, named locally as life-long friends Gary McLaughlin, 21, from Ballymoney, Burt, and Darren Downey, 19, from Moness, Burt, were killed in a single vehicle crash at Newtowncunningham on the main Letterkenny to Derry Road.

Gardaí were yesterday trying to piece together the men’s last movements after their crashed car was spotted by an early-morning motorist in the laneway of an unoccupied house shortly before 7.30am.

It is understood the men were last seen alive by friends between 6am and 6.30am. Gary McLaughlin had earlier attended a 50th birthday party for his father, Eunan, a local taxi driver.

Burt GAA club secretary Damian Dowds last night extended the club’s sympathies to the families of the victims, who played both hurling and football with the club.

“Gary and Darren were very dedicated players. They played football and hurling all their lives, and over the past couple of years were breaking into our senior teams.

“They would never let the team down, never missed a game and could always be counted on to attend training.”

He described the deceased friends as “larger than life” who were “always buzzing about and having a laugh with their friends”.

The Donegal accident was the second over the bank holiday weekend.

On Saturday, a man, in his late 20s, died when his motorcycle was involved in a collision at De Selby Estate in Tallaght around 3am.

He was taken to Tallaght Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Meanwhile, a new initiative is being launched by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to halve the motorcycle deaths over the next three years, thereby saving 20 lives every year.

The life-saving target is outlined in the RSA’s draft National Motorcycle Safety Action plan. The plan aims to reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities from an average of 47 per year to 20 by 2012.

The plan also seeks to reduce the number of injuries by at least 25% over the three-year period and to reduce the number of casualties in built-up areas by at least 30%.

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