Tribute pour in for popular young sportswoman killed in Mayo collision

Melissa Patterson and her twin Belinda
Melissa Patterson and her twin Belinda

TRIBUTES have been flooding in for a young twin who was tragically killed in a road crash in Mayo this week.

Melissa Patterson (18), from Castlebar, was out jogging on the N60 Castlebar to Claremorris Road when she was hit by a car being driven by an 83-year-old woman at 5.30pm on Thursday.

She later passed away in hospital.

The community has been left devastated by the popular young sports woman’s death.

Her identical twin Belinda has been left particularly distraught along with her mother Carmel, brother Eamon and sister Samantha.

The twins were due to celerbrate their Leaving Cert results next week.

Melissa attended Davitt College in Castlebar, and was a star for both her local GAA team Castlebar Mitchels and local soccer team Castlebar Town FC.

Michael Gallagher of Castlebar Mitchels said the club was left devastated by Melissa’s death.

“Our hearts are broken, tears are falling like rain and all we can do is sit and hold one another and remember Melissa dancing down the wing in her beloved red and yellow.

“Melissa changed the whole history of our club when she arrived at training one Saturday morning nine years ago. From that moment on, the world was a brighter place and the possibilities were limitless. Football became a central part of life for Melissa and her twin sister Belinda and they, in turn became a central part of the life of the Mitchels.”

Michael said the club grew as the twins did winning county titles and U14 and U16 levels before Melissa captained the minor team to the country league title last year.

“She was already established as a top-class member of the senior team and was renowned for her fighting spirit and savage, gold-plated bravery as the Red and Yellow played with verve and style wherever they went.

“Nobody said it, but Melissa was the heartbeat of the group. She was the pulse that gave the team life and her will to win was something to behold. She was destined for great things – the club was destined for great things – then fate intervened.”

Michael said Melissa was proud to be a Mitchel and the Mitchels were very proud to have her.

“The future was shining like a beacon and then, in the blink of an eye everything changed. How we recover from this will be decided in the coming months and years, but right now we will grieve as a club, we will grieve as a family; we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the wonderful Pattersons and give Melissa the send-off she deserves.”

He said her likes will never be seen again.

Anthony McDonnell, of Castlebar Town FC described the teenager as “one of our best” who had been with the club for over 10 years.

He said Melissa was one of the first girls involved in the club when they started a youth team. “That's what makes this so hard because we built the whole girls side of the club around herself and her sisters and a handful more.

“Melissa was a real determined player and one of the finest right backs you could ever see, she represented Mayo proudly in U16 and U18 Gaynor cups.

“She also represented the Town and I can barely remember her missing a game all the way through her career she was our go to player if we needed a goal we would say to Mel go up front and get us a goal and more often than not she did.

“A fine sportswoman who excelled in whatever she played either in the red and yellow of Castlebar Mitchels or the Black and white of Castlebar Town.

“That cheeky smile and bit of devilment Mel you will be sadly missed.

“Our sympathies go out to her family, friends, boyfriend Gary and all that know and love her.”

Mayo Ladies GAA also paid tribute to the teenager, tweeting: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and team mates of Melissa Patterson. We extend our deepest sympathies to all."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was left “heartbroken” by the death of the young woman from his home town.

Mayo GAA star Aidan O’Shea described the death as “simply horrific”.

Her funeral mass will take place at 11am on Monday at the Church of the Holy Rosary before her burial at Castlebar new cemetery.