TRIBUTES have been paid to a West Belfast GAA player who died in a tragic road accident in Australia on Monday.

Ryan Straney (27), from the Upper Springfield Road, died in the early hours of Monday following the collision on Sydney’s M1 Pacific Motorway.

It was reported that a 96-year-old man drove a vehicle south in the north-bound lane of the motorway for at least 10 minutes, causing drivers to swerve to avoid a crash and report the vehicle to police.

A collision then occurred at around 4.40am local time, with the elderly driver’s vehicle colliding with two cars and a truck. Ryan, who was in one of the cars, died at the scene, while the 96-year-old man was taken to hospital where he remains in a critical condition.

The driver of the truck, a 35-year-old man, and the 39-year-old driver of the other car, were both treated for minor injuries.

A spokesperson for New South Wales Police said: “An investigation has commenced into the circumstances surrounding the crash. A report will be prepared with the information of the coroner.”

Ryan was a senior Gaelic footballer with club Lámh Dhearg GAC in Hannahstown and had previously played for the Antrim minors squad. He moved to Australia to start work as a civil engineer at the end of last year.

A Lámh Dhearg GAC spokesperson said the club and area was in “deep, deep shock at this tragic news".

A spokesperson for Antrim GAA said: “We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to Lámh Dhearg CLG and the entire community on the shock passing of Ryan Straney.

“Ryan was a member of their senior football team and has been in Australia. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends at this deeply sad time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”

A funeral notice said Ryan died “as the result of a tragic accident” and described him as the “beloved son of Vincent and Sharon, loving brother to Declan and Calum, cherished grandson of Geordie and Theresa.

"He will be sadly missed by his wider family circle and friends at home and abroad."