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Schoolboy dies playing football

16 March 09 09:49 GMT

The death of a 16-year-old schoolboy who collapsed playing soccer at the weekend, has prompted fresh calls for heart screening for young people.

Oisin McGuinness died following a match in Newry on Saturday morning.

His family have asked for donations to be made to Sads - the Sudden Adult Death Syndrome charity.

The death echoes that of Tyrone GAA star Cormac McAnallen whose mother has called for a cardiac screening programme from the age 11 or 12 years.

Cormac died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition - Sads - at the age of 24.

This is a mysterious adult version of cot death syndrome which often strikes active and athletic people between the ages of 15 and 35.

The McAnallen family set up a trust following their son's death and have been distributing defibrillators to clubs, leisure centres and schools.

Cormac's mother, Bridget, has called for widespread screening of young people so that those at risk of the disease can be found and treated.

"We have distributed a lot of defibrillators, but I do not feel that these are the complete answer," she said.

"What needs to be done is a screening programme from the age of about 11 or 12."

Mrs McAnallen said screening would prove a "cheap and non-invasive" answer. She said it was "utterly sad and tragic" that young people died in this way.

Oisin McGuinness was a fifth year pupil at Abbey Grammar CBS and was also a talented Gaelic footballer and hurler.

Local priest, Fr Terry Rafferty visited the McGuinness family on Sunday evening.

He said Oisin's parents, Joan and John were "totally heartbroken" and trying to come to terms with their son's death.

"He goes out to a football match and you just expect him to come home again," he said.

"This young man was extremely fit. All his team members were telling me of his high fitness level.

"Initial reports suggest this was cardiomyopathy which is a kind of heart muscle disease. It seems to be something which affects elite athletes - an unexplainable attack on the heart."

Fr Rafferty said Cameroon footballer Marc-Vivien Foe, 28, died in 2003 after collapsing during an international match in France. He suffered from the condition.

Rugby player John McCall, a student at Royal Armagh School, was just 18 when he collapsed and died during a match for Ireland in March 2004.

Dermot McGovern, the principal of Abbey Grammar, said everyone was shocked and saddened to hear the news of his death.

"Oisin was playing soccer for a local club. Towards the end of the match, he collapsed and, unfortunately, died some time later," he said.

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