TRIBUTES have been paid to Arnie Clarke, originally from Antrim, who died following a tragic accident at Tullymore Forest Park in County Down on Thursday.
Mr Clarke, who was 56, had formerly worked at Michelin in Ballymena.
He was well-known in sporting circles in Antrim with tributes paid to him by clubs including Antrim FC and St Comgall’s GAA.
Media reports on Thursday night said it was believed Mr Clarke had been trying to save a dog in a river at the forest park.
On the FC Antrim Facebook page Gerard McAuley said: “Arnie sadly passed away on Thursday the 13th of February in very sudden circumstances.
“Arnie played a lot of games for the club and was a tenacious battler in our midfield for a number of few years, he was a great trainer and all round club man.
“There was few harder midfielders in the BSML and he was always up for any challenge on and off the pitch. He did not like to be beat also on or off it.
“While living in France he would often ask about fc results and was due to finish in a couple of months. He will be missed by all who knew him! He was a football man a football supporter and loved leeds United.”
The Facebook post added: ‘A minute’s silence will be held ahead of Saturday’s game as a mark of respect.
‘You just never know what tomorrow holds….
‘Rest in peace Arnie’.
A post on the St Comgall’s GAA Club Facebook page said: ‘It is with great sadness and a very heavy heart that I try and put a few words together about our very good friend Arnie Clarke.
‘He came through the juvenile ranks at the club and was a senior by 17/18. Probably the smallest half back line with Paul Taggart and Alan Porter, but speed ,fitness and tenacity seen them through.
‘He never missed training and always loved a challenge both on and off the pitch, would back down to no-one from the day he got into the senior team.
‘Arnie always loved the craic after the game was over, the boys would have went to Dunloy,Waterfoot ,Cushendall or wherever there was a bit of music on a Sunday night.
‘Even now at 56 Arnie had always looked after himself and could be seen walking his beloved dog when he was home from France, only had a few more months to do with Michelin and he would have been home for good. RIP my good friend and friend of St Comgalls GAC.’
The following notice was on the Funeral Times website:
‘Clarke, Antrim, 13th February, suddenly as a result of an accident. Arnold Robert (Arnie), dearly beloved son of Robert and Margaret, partner of Nicola and father of Tony, Kane and Kelsea, brother of Martin, Sean and Aidan.
‘Funeral arrangements later. All enquiries contract Marrions Funeral Directors – 07885301584 / 028 9447 2487
‘On his soul sweet Jesus have mercy. Deeply regretted by his sorrowing father, mother, brothers, sisters-in-law, partner, grand-children and extended family circle.’