Former Antrim captain Anto Finnegan has passed away at the age of 48 following a battle with Motor Neurone Disease.
Finnegan played for Antrim for 11 years and captained the Saffrons to a first win in an Ulster Senior Football Championship game in 18 years in 2000.
He was diagnosed with MND in August 2012 and raised awareness around the disease through his campaigning and charity work.
“This world has lost a fine man,” tweeted Finnegan’s club St. Paul’s.
“Our deepest sympathies to Alison, Conall, Ava & the Finnegan & Dowdall families,”
Finnegan made his Antrim senior football debut in 1994 and helped the county win the All-Ireland B title in 1999.
He played his final match for Antrim in 2005 and dedicated his time to raising funds and his charity work after he was diagnosed with MND at the age of 39 in 2012.
West Belfast GAA club St Paul’s led tributes to former player Finnegan while All-Ireland winners Joe Brolly and Dublin’s Brian Fenton were some of the biggest names in GAA who paid their respects on social media.
Mark Carey, secretary at St Paul’s, said the club and the county will “forever keep Anto Finnegan in our memories”.
“While it is a sad day that we have lost Anto, we have to hold onto memories that he gave us,” said Carey.
“Anto made this quote in an interview, and this sums up Anto Finnegan as a person: ‘Enjoy life, every day is a blessing. Live life to the fullest, and if you do something to help someone, then roll up your sleeves and get on with it’.
“That was Anto Finnegan throughout all of his nine years [battling MND]. This is a difficult day for us at St Paul’s, there will be difficult months for us at St Paul’s, but as a club we need to get our arms around the Finnegan family.”