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Tragic crash Former GAA player dies in car accident in South Africa

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Shane O'Brien

Shane O'Brien

Shane O'Brien

A former GAA footballer and hurler and DCU graduate who went on to a career with the UN has tragically died following a road accident in South Africa.

Shane O’Brien, who was a member of the Erne Gaels GAA club in Co Fermanagh, died following the accident in Pretoria on Tuesday where he lived and worked with the United Nation’s Refugee Agency.

The native of Belleek initially moved to Geneva several years ago to pursue his career with the UN Refugee Agency.

He completed a Masters’ Degree in International Relations at DCU after graduating from St Michael’s College and Oxford Brookes University where he studied law and French.

But it was on the pitch where he was best known at home through his local club, the Erne Gaels.

He was a member of the Co Fermanagh minor football squad that reached an Ulster final in 2003 as well as the county’s senior squad in 2009 before he emigrated to work with the UN.

Last night, the club paid tribute to him in a statement. It read:

"It is with a deep sense of shock and sadness that we learned of the tragic death of Shane O’Brien from the Erne Gaels club.

"Shane was a member of the Fermanagh minor team that reached the Ulster Final in 2003 and a member of the Fermanagh senior football team in 2009.

"Shane also won a Corn na nÓg title in 1999 with St Michael's College, Enniskillen and a MacRory Cup in 2002. Our deepest sympathies go to the O’Brien family at this time.

"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam."

Former team-mate Ryan McCluskey also offered his condolences on Twitter.

"Another life taken too soon. Had the pleasure of playing alongside this young man. A gentleman and brilliant man. Condolences to Shane’s family and @ErneGaelsGAC club mates. @FermanaghGAA #Rip #perspective."

Following his football career, Shane worked for the Division of International Protection at the agency which helps to repatriate refugees to their homeland or help them to re-settle elsewhere.

He described as unit as "the legal heartbeat of the organisation" which aims to "protect the basic human rights of refugees and ensure that they will not be returned involuntarily to a country where they face persecution and/or harm".

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