Cooney: Ciarán's passing has struck a chord with everyone

Wicklow footballers formed a guard of honour this evening as the remains of Garda Ciarán Jones were brought to St. Brigid's Church in Manor Kilbride.

Wicklow footballers formed a guard of honour this evening as the remains of Garda Ciarán Jones were brought to St. Brigid's Church in Manor Kilbride.

GAA President Christy Cooney, who is in Australia with the Ireland International Rules squad, has expressed his sympathies and those of the Association to the family of Jones.

The 25-year-old died while assisting a motorist at a damaged bridge in Wicklow during the flooding that affected many parts of the country on Monday.

Paying tribute to the young Gaelic footballer, Cooney said: "Ciarán's passing has struck a chord with everyone, including those of us here in Australia.

"He lost his life doing what he did every day - looking out for others - and it is a tribute to the character of the man that he was off duty on Monday night when he got into difficulty.

"Speaking to those who knew him, he was highly regarded, a free spirit, the life and soul of his club (Kilbride) and someone who energised people.

"I offer my heartfelt condolences to this family and wide circle of friends and of course his club where he will also be sorely missed."

The Kilbride clubman built a solid reputation as a very skilful, free-taking forward and spent two seasons as a member of the Wicklow senior panel in 2007 and 2008.

Paddy Dalton, the Gaelic Players Association representative with the Wicklow footballers, spoke of Ciarán as being 'a real gentleman' and 'a person who was always in good humour and had a smile on his face'.

"He was an excellent footballer, he had great style and as (our former manager) Mick O'Dwyer said, he had a great strike of a ball," explained Dalton.

"I watched him playing with Kilbride in a relegation game in Baltinglass a few weeks back, after our own club had been involved in the Wicklow semi-final. I think he kicked most of his side's scores that day, nine or ten points.

"He was a great fellow to meet in the dressing room, always had a joke, always keeping everyone in good spirits. I was fortunate to also meet Ciarán socially in Dublin regularly and he was brilliant company.

"It is a terrible tragedy and I'd like to offer my condolences on behalf of the Wicklow panel to Ciarán's family, his girlfriend Clare and everyone associated with Ciarán and the Jones family.

"Knowing him, we certainly weren’t surprised that Ciarán put his life on the line on Monday night to help others, he was that type of man."

GPA Chief Executive Dessie Farrell also commented: "Ciarán's bravery in the face of great danger reflected the type of character he was and I have been contacted personally by lot of players who wished to convey their sympathies to his family, friends, his Garda colleagues and Kilbride club-mates. Ar dheis Dé go raibh anam Chiaráin."

Jones' funeral mass will take place tomorrow at St. Brigid's Church at 12pm, followed by the burial in the adjoining cemetery.

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