There were amazing scenes last night at an amazing club in Derry. Declan Brown of Bellaghy Wolfe Tones was introduced as a second-half substitute and helped his club secure a famous one-point victory over Newbridge in the Derry Senior Championship. Earlier that day, Declan buried his father Damian, a beloved figure at the club.
Declan was introduced in the 60th minute with Bellaghy trailing by 1-5 to 0-7. The match finished 0-9 to 1-5 to Bellaghy. In the moments after the final whistle, Brown's teammates flooded the pitch to embrace their grieving teammate.
Bellaghy goalkeeper Peter Stewart kicks a 65th minute winner against Newbridge. On the final whistle seconds later they all sprint to Declan Brown, who buried his father Damian this morning and came on late in the game. The emotional connection of a GAA community is unrivalled pic.twitter.com/BJrZoNA27C
— Cahair O'Kane (@CahairOKane1) October 12, 2021
The Brown family are deeply rooted in the history of the Bellaghy Wolfe Tones. Damian Brown was a proud Bellaghy clubman and footballer who sadly died on Friday after a short illness. Damian's father Séan was club chairman when he was kidnapped and murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1997. He was abducted while locking the grounds of the club.
We are deeply saddened to learn of the untimely passing of our former player, manager & clubman Damian Brown. A tenacious defender on the pitch & a gentleman of great character off it. His loss will be felt by everyone who knew him. (Continued).. pic.twitter.com/KGX3b2VKw4
— Bellaghy Wolfe Tones GAC (@BellaghyGAC) October 9, 2021
Some win for Bellaghy, coming through one of only a couple of tight games this round.
Massive emotion at the end the whole show getting round Decy, that’s what the GAA is all about you can’t buy that!
Family. Club. Community.#DerrySFC #GAA
— OB (@OdhranBradley) October 12, 2021
That was more than just a game of football. A much needed lift to the community and parish. Special club 💙🤍 @BellaghyGAC pic.twitter.com/K5C7Nht9fr
— Ruairí McElwee (@RuairiMcElwee) October 13, 2021
The Brown family have long campaigned for an inquest into Séan's death and Damian had acted as family spokesman . According to the Irish News, Damian 'attended about 30 preliminary inquests over the years.'
Balls.ie travelled to Bellaghy last year to learn about the history of the extraordinary club.
A visit to Bellaghy
Bellaghy Wolfe Tones are the most successful football team in Derry however it's the role of the club off the pitch that means so much to the people of Bellaghy.
Sports Direct proudly supports grassroots GAA with their partnership with @BellaghyGAC.#BornToPlay pic.twitter.com/uwyu83Ga0q
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) March 18, 2020
Derry All-Ireland winner Damian Cassidy paid tribute to Damian Brown, and stated that the Brown family is “synonymous” with the Bellaghy GAA club.
"Damian would have had a long battle with the murder of his father and seemed to be the driver and was certainly the spokesman for the family in trying to get justice for the family."
"He was a strong personality and a very determined character.”
Declan’s involvement in last night's victory over Newbridge highlights that the GAA can bring the best out of people even in the worst of times.