Ben Donohoe, middle, holding the shield, with Red Devils mates after winning the local touch comp.
Ben Donohoe, middle, holding the shield, with Red Devils mates after winning the local touch comp.

Ben's memory lives on

BEN DONOHOE was one of Byron Bay’s most popular rugby league players and his memory is set to live on when the Red Devils host Ballina at Red Devil Park, Byron Bay, in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League on Sunday afternoon.

The 20-year-old died in a car accident on July 18 last year, sending shockwaves through the Byron Bay community.

Donohoe scored four tries against Ballina in his final game before his sudden death.

Club stalwart Jeff Barnes will never forget the elusive winger and keen surfer who came to the club as a junior.

“I first coached him when he was nine and he was a natural athlete,” Barnes said.

“Benny had a wicked sense of humour and there was never a dull moment with him.

“He was a legend at Byron Bay High School and there wasn’t much he couldn’t do.”

Byron Bay five-eighth Tobin Cupples is calling on the local community to rally behind the team on Sunday.

“It was devastating at the time and we’re a close-knit team,” he said.

“His mother (Yvonne) comes to every home game, so it would be great to get a big crowd.

“We want to support the family any way we can.”

Donohoe was also gifted off the field.

“Ben was intelligent and tapped into everything he could at school,” Barnes said.

“He started a degree at university on the Gold Coast and was so relaxed in everything he did.

“Ben loved being around his mates and I think that’s why footy appealed to him.

“He was the sort of bloke who would turn up just in time for a game, but then go out and score a handful of tries. It seems like only yesterday he was playing.”

The Red Devils were forced out of first grade this season after the departure of captain-coach Simon Kelly and the nucleus of their 2010 team moved interstate for work.

Brad Purtell stepped in as captain-coach, but left soon after.

An emergency meeting was held with the NRRRL, but the Red Devils ran out of time trying to sign players

Barnes is confident the club will be back on its feet in first grade next season.

“We’ve been busy planning and organising for 2011,” he said.

“We’ll name a coach for next season in a fortnight.”

The announcement is expected to be made after the Red Devils play Casino at home on July 31.

Kick-off this Sunday is 2pm, with drinks at the club afterwards.



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