Some of the juvenile teams collecting commemorative medals to mark the official opening of Derek Brady Park - the home of Bohermeen Celtic FC.

'It's bittersweet, it's emotional, but above all that, we have a future for our kids to play'

The securing of six acres of land in Bohermeen in 2017 and its development into two immaculately maintained soccer pitches and facilities was formally recognised last Sunday week when the grounds were officially opened in honour of a lost, loved son of the parish.

The ribbon was cut and a beautifully hand crafted plaque was revealed at Derek Brady Park by Derek's mother Marie and father Liam, in the presence of siblings, David, Alan and Susan as well as President of the FAI, Gerry McAnaney and Cathaoirleach, Meath Co Council, Cllr Tommy Reilly, Navan Mayor, Cllr Eddie Fennessy and Deputy Damien English TD.

Derek was just 22 years old when he was tragically killed in a car accident on the streets of Taipei in Northern Taiwan on October 19th, 1996. News of his passing rocked the community as local TD Damien English recalled.

"I know this is a dream come true for you, the Brady family, but I know for the community, as a club, this means so much to have this facility right here in the centre of the parish. I think above all, the passion that drove it on, was doing it in Derek's memory.

"In this community, we remember that devastating day in 1996 and hearing the terrible news of Derek's passing and so to turn that dreadful tragedy into a major positive for our parish was so important. Derek achieved so much in his young life, but for any of us, it's about making an impact and Derek's impact was these pitches, these facilities and this presence here for our kids for many, many more years to come."

Derek, the youngest of the Brady family, spent over three days on a life support machine following his accident, before Liam and Marie, who flew out to Taipei to be at their son's bedside unselfishly decided to donate his organs, a gesture that gave six other people life.

Before his untimely death, Derek and a few friends had established the first ever Asian Gaelic Games, which was and is a landmark event for the Irish community in that part of the world. Derek was one of the pillars of An Cumann Luthchleas Gael Taipei and doggedly ensured that the tournament was professionally organised while making close-knit friendships and bonds.

When he returned home, any chance to put on a jersey and play for the parish was seized.

Derek’s brother David, chairperson of Bohermeen Celtic said: "I remember when we were about 16 and we wanted to play a bit of football so we set up our own team and whoever had a brother was automatically in because it doubled the numbers.

"We used to play a Kells team called Headfort Grove and that was the start of it but we never had a home. In 2017, we purchased land beside the school and church in Bohermeen. We levelled three fields and have six acres now and about 300 members."

Addressing the gathering of players, coaches, committee, sponsors and supporters, David paid tribute to all who donned those first jerseys and took those first tentative steps in establishing Bohermeen Cetic.

"To the kids of the late 80s; Shane Thornton, Shane Kavanagh, Derek Cassidy, Paul Cassidy, Noel O'Reilly, Alan Coffey, Justin Travers, Paudie Travers, James Brennan, Paul 'Scruffy' Martin, Stephen Carey, Derek Brady, David Brady, Davy Fay, you guys were the start, you began this journey, you poured the foundations. We didn't know it at the time, but you guys are what we built the foundations of this club on and thank you so, so much for that.”

The horrendous weather conditions failed to dampen the enthusiasm of dozens of kids from U7s to U18s who queued to collect their commemorative medals recognising the emotional occasion and the passion of a determined young man who made such a mark on the world in his short 22-year life and the family that drove on to ensure his name and what he stood for would never be forgotten in his native parish.

Blessing the pitches, Bohermeen PP, Fr Andy Doyle who lives less than a kick of a ball away in the neighbouring parochial house wished the club every success and congratulated the committee on doing "such wonderful work in setting up this great facility."

"It's great to see and hear the young people getting such enjoyment from these facilities and we ask the Lord's blessing for all their efforts on these pitches."

David Brady spoke of the family's pride at the park being officially named in his late brother's honour. "Myself, Alan, Susan, Mam and Dad are so, so honoured and proud that the Bohermeen Celtic committee agreed to name these grounds after Derek.

"Derek was a fiercely determined young man with a strong willingness to get things done and nothing phased him. He would be so proud of what we have achieved today, but with Derek's dry humour, he would say 'it took you long enough, didn't it!'

"Derek loved playing for Bohermeen Celtic and anytime he was home, from college or overseas, there was nothing more he enjoyed than pulling on a Bohermeen jersey. When we had the medal presentation and we saw all the kids from all the juvenile teams collecting their medals, I know he would have been so thrilled. To see some of his friends who now have kids of their own playing for the club and coming up to get their medals would have just delighted him."

"It's bittersweet, it's sad, it's emotional, it's all that but above all that, we have a future for our kids to play. It's a magnificent ground and it's only going to get better. We have a home called Derek Brady Park."

FAI President, Gerry McAnaney praised the club and its members for all they had achieved. "Derek left these shores here for foreign lands and made his name in business and on the football and GAA field and is unfortunately no longer with us and I know the Brady family and everyone here are thinking of him but his legacy and the legacy of all the family and community here lives on through these facilities.”

Cathaoirleach of Meath Co Council, Cllr Tommy Reilly said he was honoured to be invited to the official opening. "To Liam, Marie, David, Susan and Alan, it has to be a proud day for you, I know the loss of Derek was heartfelt but thank god, this has been done and it's a credit to you, David and the great committee you have around you. I want to wish you the best of luck.”

- Bohermeen Celtic is counting down to it's major fundraising event 'The Oscarz' when seven films produced and starring the club members and supporters will be screened. The event takes place in the Knightsbrook Hotel on Saturday 7th October and tickets, priced €25 are on sale via the club's social media platforms or any Ctte member.