A poignant presentation in memory of Private Sean Rooney took place before last Friday’s League of Ireland game between Derry City and Dundalk at the Brandywell.
The 24-year-old, who was born in Dundalk and stationed with the 27th Infantry Battalion at Aiken’s Barracks in town, was killed in an ambush in Lebanon last December while on active duty for his country on a UN peacekeeping mission.
Born into a local family with a proud military tradition, Sean attended Gaelscoil Dhun Dealgan and then the Marist secondary school before moving to Newtowncunningham in Donegal as a teenager.
He became a regular at the Brandywell and his link to both clubs was recognised on Friday when his mother Natasha, his stepfather Paul, his brother Callum, his sister Robyn, and his fiancee Holly McConnellogue were presented with a commemorative Dundalk FC shirt with ‘Rooney 24’ on the back and a framed Derry City jersey, signed by the Candystripes squad.
Dundalk chairman Sean O’Connor and his Derry City counterpart Philip O’Doherty, along with Lilywhites head coach Stephen O’Donnell and Candystripes boss Ruaidhri Higgins presented the jerseys to the bereaved family members in front of the Mark Farren Stand.
Speaking at Sean’s funeral in the Holy Family Church in Muirhevnamor in December, Natasha fittingly described her son as a ‘national hero’.
He will never be forgotten.