MMA star James Gallagher has made an Aughabrack schoolboy’s dream come true by paying him a visit.
Joseph Kerlin, a pupil at Knockavoe School, recently wrote to the ‘Strabanimal’ to tell him he was a huge fan.
In his heartfelt letter the 16-year-old said he hoped Gallagher would go on to become the biggest MMA star on the planet.
So moved was 20-year-old James by the gesture that he posted Joseph’s letter on his social media page and it quickly attracted thousands of likes and messages from around the world.
Gallagher, who recently saw off Israeli fighter Kirill Medvedovsky to maintain his unbeaten professional record, is already on his way to becoming a global sporting sensation.
But recently he took time out of his busy schedule to make Joseph’s dream come true by visiting him at his home in the townland of Stroanbrack near Aughabrack.
The Strabanimal enjoyed a light-hearted spar and a laugh with his pal and was only too happy to pose for photographs.
Joseph’s mum Ann said the visit had made her son’s week.
“Joseph really enjoyed it. He only found out the evening before that James was coming to visit so he was very excited. It meant an awful lot to him,” said Ann.
The Knockavoe schoolboy penned his letter to his sporting hero without the knowledge of his parents. Because he is on the autism spectrum he only learned to read two years ago and has only been writing for eight months.
His mum added, “We knew nothing about the letter because he wrote it down in his room. He gave it to TJ Browne who taxis him to school everyday and he made sure it got to James.
“Joseph couldn’t believe it when he came through the door and he hasn’t stopped smiling since.”