Tributes paid as talented soccer player (12) dies after collapse at home
Tributes have poured in for a talented 12-year-old soccer player who died suddenly after being hospitalised with a high fever.
Aaron O'Kelly, from the Herbert Road area of Bray, Co Wicklow, had taken ill at home earlier in the week with a high temperature.
On Saturday he collapsed at his home and was taken to Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin where he tragically passed away.
It is understood that Aaron had a pulse when emergency services arrived at his family's home, but he died in hospital after being rushed there by ambulance.
Aaron was a talented goalkeeper with his local Ardmore Rovers club, where his dad Paul is a valued member and coach.
The club paid tribute to Aaron on its Facebook page, leading to an outpouring of messages of sympathy from the local and wider community.
"Ardmore Rovers football club is greatly saddened by the news of the passing of one of its young footballers, Aaron O'Kelly, aged 12.
"Aaron epitomised the spirit of the club and he was a very popular and friendly figure in his team.
"As goalkeeper, he helped his under 12 team win its DDSL league before Christmas as well as picking up the Player of the Year award in the same season," said the club.
"His dad Paul, has managed Aaron's team for several years and is a valued member of our club.
"Ardmore Rovers and all its members would like to send its condolences to the O'Kelly family at this very sad time," it added.
Responding to the statement the Bray community expressed its own grief.
"Heartbroken. A beautiful angel taken too soon. May he rest in peace. My condolences to the O'Kelly and Wells family and friends," wrote Emma Bassett.
"Aaron was a lovely young man and a fantastic goalie. He will be very sadly missed by all his team mates. Thinking of Paul and all his family at this sad time x," said Paula Doyle Kelemen.
Local sources said the O'Kelly family have been "floored" by their son's death, and are also consoling a younger sibling.
"They are all devastated. It has just been an awful shock," said one Bray resident.
Aaron's former school, Cronan Naofa in Bray, also released a statement following Aaron's death.
"We are heartbroken to hear of the sudden passing of Aaron O'Kelly, one of our past pupils who left our school at the end of last June," it said.
"He was a wonderful young man who has left this world far too soon, all our thoughts and prayers are with his family. May he rest in peace," it added.
The FAI also issued a statement, passing on their condolences to the family and friends of Aaron.
"The thoughts and prayers from members of the Football Family are with Aaron's family and friends at this difficult time.
"We will remember Aaron at our next home Republic of Ireland men's senior international."
Other football clubs also sent messages of sorrow to Ardmore Rovers yesterday.
A statement from local club Bray Wanderers read: "Bray Wanderers FC would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family of young Aaron O'Kelly who passed away yesterday.
"Goalkeeper Aaron was a member of Ardmore Rovers U12s here in Bray.
"During this difficult period we also keep Aaron's friends and team mates in Ardmore Rovers in our thoughts. RIP Aaron."
Another message said: "Condolences from all of us at St Maelruans FC ... very tragic news, RIP Aaron."
Shelbourne and Tolka Rovers football clubs also expressed condolence. The O'Kelly family now face the heartbreaking task of organising Aaron's funeral.
Bray Sinn Féin councillor Michael O'Connor offered his condolences to the family.
"It's an absolute tragedy and heartbreaking for the poor family," he said.
The HSE and Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin said they were not in a position to comment on individual cases.