Birmingham-based GAA player named as victim of Tunisian terrorist massacre

Owen Richards, Adrian Evans, Patrick Evans and Joel Richards

Owen Richards, Adrian Evans, Patrick Evans and Joel Richards

One of those killed in the horrific Tunisian terrorist massacre, in which at least 39 tourists were killed, was a talented Gaelic footballer who played for Birmingham-based James Connolly’s GFC.

Joel Richards, aged 22, died along two other members of his family – his grandfather Patrick Evans and uncle Adrian Evans – though his brother Owen survived the attack, despite being shot in the shoulder.

Owen and Joel lived in Wednesbury with their mum Suzy, aged 46.

Owen was found by medics sitting on grass near the beach where at least 15 Britons were shot dead by IS fanatic Seifeddine Rezgui after his three relatives were murdered in front of him.

The student murdered at least 39 holidaymakers with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle before being shot dead by Tunisian police.

In a statement released on Saturday June 27 by James Connollys GFC the club said: “James Connolly’s GFC is devastated to learn of the death of one of our players, Joel Richards, during the horrific attack in Tunisia.

Describing Mr Richards as an “exceptionally talented footballer,” the club said he “ represented both club and county with conviction on numerous occasions.”

“Details of his funeral arrangements will follow; our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.”

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”

Joel was also an active soccer referee and a member of Birmingham County FA’s youth council.

In a statement, Birmingham FA said: “A young, talented referee with the world at his feet, he was highly thought-of and will be sadly missed. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this tragic time.”

Owen Richards and Brother Joel Richards

Owen Richards and Brother Joel Richards

Joel, Owen, Adrian and Patrick had all recently travelled to Wembley to watch Walsall against Bristol City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.

Walsall FC issued a statement saying it was “devastated” by the deaths, adding that it was happy to facilitate a request by supporters to lay scarves outside Bescot Stadium on Monday June 29.

The statement went on to say: “The club offer its full support to the families at this tragic time. However, out of respect to Patrick, Adrian and Joel, and their families, the club do not feel it is appropriate to make any further comment at this time whilst family and friends are coming to terms with their tragic loss.”

Joel’s death was not the only GAA one related to the Tunisian massacre.

Lorna Carty from Robinstown, Co Meath, who was the first Irish victim confirmed to have died in the attack was also deeply involved with the GAA. She was shot dead as she sunbathed on the beach in Sousse.

A JustGiving page has been set up to raise funds for Owen Richards, who was hailed a hero for helping an injured British woman, despite losing three of his own family.

The JustGiving appeal has been set up by the Darren Wright Foundation, which helps children with a disability or life limiting illness. The total has been set at £500. The page says: “This fund is to show support and love to a great individual at this sad time.”

Medic Fakher Ben Amor, from the Cliniques Les Oliviers hospital where at least 23 wounded British patients received treatment, helped Owen when he was admitted.

Mr Amor said: “He had a small injury to his shoulder. He was talking about a bullet coming over his shoulder.

“He was talking about his mother who is in England and he spoke to her on the phone.

“When we found him he was with another woman, he was helping her because she had an injury to her back.

“He was crying and he was wearing shorts and t-shirt. He was really shocked and upset.”