Local sports club draws community together following McGinley children’s deaths

Rathcoole Football Club offering counselling service to those who knew Conor, Darragh, and Carla

Andrew McGinley pictured with his three children Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3). Rathcoole Football Club has close links to the McGinley family and its members have been deeply affected by the deaths of the children. Photograph: Family Handout/PA Wire

Andrew McGinley pictured with his three children Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3). Rathcoole Football Club has close links to the McGinley family and its members have been deeply affected by the deaths of the children. Photograph: Family Handout/PA Wire

 

Rathcoole Football Club might have been forgiven for cancelling its training sessions this week.

The large southwest Dublin club, which fields about 30 teams, has close links to the McGinley family and its members have been deeply affected by the deaths of Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3), whose bodies were discovered last Friday evening by their father Andrew.

Conor played for the under-10s team and Dara was about to start with the under-8s after going through the club’s kids’ soccer academy, said Rathcoole FC chairman Dave Hennessy.

He explained the decision not to cancel training sessions at the club after the news broke was a deliberate one.

“We made sure not to cancelled any training sessions just to allow the children and the coaches and the parents to come together because the club is such a focal point in the community.”

Training sessions are being treated as an opportunity for the children, coaches and parents to meet and process their grief. The club has brought in counsellors who are available for anyone who wants to avail of them and special attention is being paid to the teammates of Conor and Darragh.

A vigil was held for Conor, Darragh and Carla outside the house where their remains were discovered at Parsons Court in Newcastle, Co Dublin on Friday night. Photograph: Stephen Colllins
A vigil was held for Conor, Darragh and Carla outside the house where their remains were discovered at Parsons Court in Newcastle, Co Dublin on Friday night. Photograph: Stephen Colllins

“That’s been a great help,” said Mr Hennessy. “We have them down there last night and the night before. It has had a huge impact on the community and a big impact on the club itself.”

Coming together

Mr Hennessy said that if there is anything good to come from the tragedy, it is that it has brought the community of Rathcoole together in a way never seen before.

“Everybody has come together and the local businesses have been fantastic.”

Like many in the Rathcoole and Newcastle areas, Mr Hennessy is wary of talking to the media in case it intrudes on the McGinley family’s grief.

“People are curious. One half of me wants to say nothing and the other half wants to acknowledge how great the community has been about coming together,” he said.

“Children are very resilient. But it will take some time to get over this, for the family and for the community.”

The club’s response is just one part of a vast community effort to process the tragedy and offer support to those affected.

Most people want to feel like they are helping in some way, even though there is little they can actually do, said Shelley Kavanagh, who lives close to the McGinley family. This prompted her to set up an online fundraiser for the family, with their permission, which as of Wednesday evening had raised more than €21,000.

All of this will be transferred to Mr McGinley, “probably sometime after the funeral,” Ms Kavanagh said. “The whole of Newcastle, like the rest of the country is in absolute shock. There’s a huge sense of loss and sadness and darkness in the community. Everyone wants to do something. We need to channel that grief.”

Sympathy

Dozens of messages of sympathy have been posted on the fundraising page including many from fathers, Ms Kavanagh said.

“They are coming through from dads who just can’t imagine Andrew’s grief.”

Ms Kavanagh has two children, aged four and five, and has so far managed to keep them from news of the deaths. But older children in the area are aware of it, she said.

“The schools have been fantastic and have sent out links of ways to explain these tragic events to the children. I couldn’t imagine having to explain my two.”