The body of Antrim camogie captain Karen Coyles has been found off the Scottish coastline – after she went missing on the night she led her team to All-Ireland Sevens glory. Camogie is the female version of Irish hurling.
The 47-year-old Coyles disappeared just hours after she had captained the McQuilan’s GAA club from Ballycastle in Antrim to victory in the annual camogie Sevens in Dublin.
A body washed up on the Mull of Kintyre on Thursday has now been identified as that of the missing GAA star.
Karen had disappeared on September 11th. The alarm was raised after she failed to turn up for work at the University of Ulster’s Research Institute in Coleraine the following day.
A major search was launched in Ballycastle Harbour and in and around Rathlin Island.
Her car was later found at the gates of the McQuillan’s GAA club where she played camogie as a goalkeeper.
Scottish police informed the Coyles family of the discovery and confirmed her identity on Saturday.
A spokesman for the family said: “We are devastated at the loss of a beautiful, talented and beloved daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt and friend but are comforted in the knowledge that Karen is now safe in the arms of her beloved mother and will always and forever be in our hearts.
“We are eternally grateful to the Community Rescue Service, PSNI, Coast Guard, RNLI Redbay, Dundalk Sub-Aqua Search and Rescue, Mourne Underwater Search Team, Erne Search and Recovery Team, Ulster Seaplane Association and local boatowners who were relentless in their endeavours to find Karen.
“There are no words adequate to express our gratitude to McQuillan’s GAA Club, which opened its doors providing a safe haven, comfort and sustenance to family, friends and searchers.”
Work colleague Professor Hugh McKenna from the University of Ulster told reporters that the college was ‘saddened and shocked to hear of Karen’s death.
“She was a highly valued, popular and respected member of staff who made an excellent contribution to the work of the School of Biomedical Sciences Research Institute,” he said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Karen’s family at this tragic time.”