It is with profound sadness and deep regret that Newry City AFC has learned of the untimely passing of former Newry Town goalkeeper Paul Straney.
Paul, then just 23 years old, was a star performer of the Newry 1997/98 First Division title winning team. He also lined out for Newry in a 4-3 defeat of a Manchester United XI in August 1998 in front of a sellout crowd at the Showgrounds.
The following season Paul suffered a horrendous leg break in a game against Ballymena United, but such was the measure of the man, he went on to make a full recovery and made his long awaited return to the Newry first team for a Premiership match away to Omagh Town some 18 months later.
Newry City AFC Chairman Martin McLoughlin was first to lead the tributes for the popular Downpatrick based man.
“We are all deeply saddened by the passing of a real favourite here at the Showgrounds. Paul was a dedicated member of our team when we played in the Intertoto Cup. A true gentleman, who wore our colours proudly.”
Newry first team manager Darren Mullen said: “It’s terrible to think someone so young and full of life has passed away. I didn’t know Paul but have heard nothing but good reports about him. On behalf of all the players and coaching staff I would like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family.”
On Twitter, former Newry centre forward Andy Myler said: “Paul was a great goalkeeper and a great team mate. An unbelievable bloke.”
While another of Paul’s former team mates at Newry in the late 1990s, Jim Barr, added on Facebook, “Shocked and saddened to hear about Paul. He was a great keeper and a great character. R.I.P Paul.”
Newry fan Gareth McCullough echoed both Andy and Jim’s sentiments, saying: “Like everyone else in the Irish League, I am absolutely stunned and saddened by the death of Paul Straney. A great keeper who didn’t mess about on the pitch. Top man too. Part of the brilliant Newry Town team of the late 90s and always fondly remembered at the club.”
While another Newry supporter, Shane Campbell, added, “Very sad news, possibly my first goalkeeping hero back in the early days, lucky enough to be coached by him too, absolute gentleman.”
Newry City players will wear black armbands as a mark of respect in our match away to PSNI tomorrow, while a minute’s silence will be observed in memory of Paul prior to our next home fixture against Lurgan Celtic on Boxing Day.
The thoughts of everyone at Newry City AFC are with Paul’s family and friends at this very sad time. May he Rest in Peace.