Mourners form sea of red at funeral of young footballer Aaron (12)
The young Bray footballer who died suddenly last week has been remembered as someone who overcame childhood shyness and anxiety to turn into a young man with growing talent and confidence.
Aaron O’Kelly became ill last Wednesday, and took a turn for the worst at his home of in Bray, Co Wicklow, on Saturday.
He was rushed to hospital but sadly passed away with his family at his bedside.
Aaron would have celebrated his 13th birthday yesterday but was instead reposing at his home.
At his funeral today in St. Fergal's Church, Ballywaltrim, Aaron’s father Paul described their shock at Aaron’s death, saying it was initially thought he had the winter vomiting bug.
He praised the first responders, ambulance crew, and the Gardai for their help and assistance in treating Aaron when he took ill.
“Aaron suffered from nervousness and anxiety when he was younger, and didn't like to be the centre of attention,” said Paul.
He said that as he got older he got over this, and that the teachers in St Cronan’s school, as well as the members of the Ardmore Rovers football club, were instrumental in this.
Paul spoke of Aaron's love of football, saying that his wife Sharon taught him how tackle in the back garden.
“She built that young man brick by brick,” he explained.
There was an outpouring of grief and support for the O’Kelly family in the wake of the shocking news of Aaron’s death.
Republic of Ireland and Middlesborough goal keeper Darren Randolph, who played with Ardmore in his early days, took to social media to pay his respects.
"Shocked & saddened today to hear of the death of young goalkeeper Aaron O’Kelly, only 12 yrs of age. At my old club, Ardmore Rovers FC. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP," he wrote.
Mourners wore red at the request of the family, and members of Ardmore Rovers formed a guard of honour at the church.
Symbols of Aaron’s life brought to the altar to represent his life included a football, a basketball, a set of toy Nerf guns, and a gaming controller.
Aaron’s sister Eleanor sang a hymn and comforted her little brother Robert throughout the funeral mass.
Aaron’s remains were brought to Springfield Cemetery in Bray for burial.