Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Handball champion critical following tragic accident

Get well wishes, prayers and messages of support continue to flood in for the young Cullyhanna man critically injured after he was knocked down in Crossmaglen early on Tuesday morning last.

Conall McCavitt (20) had spent St. Stephen’s night socializing with friends before he was struck by a car on Cardinal Ó Fiaich Square shortly before 6.20am.  The car, a blue Volkswagen Passat which left the scene, was later recovered in the area of the town’s agricultural mart and police say they are treating the incident as a hit-and-run.  Unsubstantiated reports locally, however, lead to the belief the alleged driver of the car offered assistance to the casualty and was present at the scene when emergency services arrived.

A talented sportsman, Conall sustained serious injuries in the collision and continues to be treated in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast where his condition remains critical.

A former world handball champion, he has been described as one of the sports “brightest stars”, having won the world Under 17 title in 2012 and represented Ireland in the World Games in 2012 and 2013.

The GAA fraternity across the country and further afield has conveyed messages of support to Conall and his family.

John Kelly, the national manager of GAA Handball, said the news of the incident had left the sport devastated.

“The GAA handball community was shocked to hear the news concerning one of our brightest young stars, Conall McCavitt, and our immediate thoughts at this time are with Conall and his family.”

Describing him as an up-and-coming star with a very bright future in the game, Mr Kelly added: “While he is a fierce competitor on the court, off the court Conall is a gentleman who is always available to help out, and is a very popular figure in the handball community.”

Armagh GAA urged people to keep “one of our greatest GAA handballers” in their thoughts and prayers as he “faces his toughest battle”, while an online post by Conall’s local club, St Patrick’s GFC, Cullyhanna, also asked the local community to think of the young man.

“Our entire club and community is wishing one of our brightest young stars, Conall McCavitt, all the best in the days ahead.  Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers,” the post read.

The local community has rallied to offer support and prayers for Conall’s recovery and St. Patrick’s Church in Cullyhanna has been packed to capacity for the nightly recitation of the Rosary offered for his speedy return to good health.

The PSNI confirmed a 20-year-old man was arrested and questioned about the incident before being released on bail pending further enquiries.  The Examiner understands the suspect, who is a close friend of Mr McCavitt, presented voluntarily to Banbridge PSNI station for interview.

Police, meanwhile, have appealed for anyone who was in Crossmaglen town centre early on Tuesday morning 27th December and who witnessed the collision, or anyone with any information about the movements of the offending car or its occupants following the collision to contact officers in Newry on 101 quoting reference number 488 of 27/12/16.  Information can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.