Heartbreak at loss of cheerful and kind Aaron
Young goalkeeper (12) to be laid to rest in Bray tomorrow
Bray boy Aaron O'Kelly was a 'cheerful, bouncy and a mischievous child' his family has said.
He was kind and patient, didn't like being in the limelight and would shy away from photos and attention. He loved his family and friends and being cuddled up in a cosy blanket at home with his mum, Sharon Wells, a local crafter.
Aaron died suddenly last Saturday following a short illness. He was brought to Crumlin Children's Hospital after being taken ill at his Herbert Road home.
He will repose at home this afternoon (Wednesday, January 10) on what would have been his 13th birthday.
'We have received great comfort from the messages of support that have come from Aaron's teammates, their families and the wider Ardmore Rovers family,' his dad Paul said in a statement, issued via the club, on behalf of Aaron's whole family.
'Playing for his team and representing his club was a huge part of his short life and an incredible source of happiness for him.
'We would like the funeral to celebrate Aaron's life and would ask people to wear splashes of red, which was Aaron's favourite colour. Ardmore jerseys will be a welcome sight.
'While we are broken, we realise that the gift we had of Aaron in our life for such a short period outweighs the pain we now feel. Thank you all for your support.'
Aaron will be sadly missed by his parents Sharon and Paul, sister Eleanor, brother Robert, grandparents Bridie and Brian Wells and Jane and Eddie O'Kelly.
He will be remembered and greatly missed by his friends and teammates in Ardmore Rovers.
Aaron's favourite colour was always red as he had a warm, cosy red hat which he wore for years. His friends and family will wear red on Thursday for his funeral, to celebrate his life.
He was a goalkeeper with his club and an avid Liverpool fan. He also loved basketball, American-style barbecues, baking with his sister Eleanor and playing computer games with his brother Robert and his cousins.
He was a first year student at Woodbrook College in Bray and a past pupil of St Cronan's School.
Aaron's family said that they would like to express their deep gratitude to the Bray First Responders, the team at Crumlin Children's Hospital and the emergency services for all of their efforts and assistance. The family would encourage everybody to support these important organisations in whatever way they can.
Aaron's family have also welcomed the many messages of support that they have received and are grateful for the warmth shown by so many people.
'Aaron epitomised the spirit of the club and he was a very popular and friendly figure in his team,' said Ardmore Rovers in a statement.
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.
'His dad Paul has managed Aaron's team for several years and is a valued member of our club,' read the statement. 'Ardmore Rovers and all its members would like to send condolences to the O'Kelly family at this very sad time.'
Ireland and Middlesborough goalkeeper Darren Randolph, a former Ardmore Rovers player, added his voice to those deeply saddened by the tragedy.
'Shocked and saddened today to hear of the death of young goalkeeper, Aaron O'Kelly. Only 12 yrs of age, in my old club, Ardmore Rovers FC. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP,' he wrote on Facebook.
St Cronan's National School said that Aaron was 'a wonderful young man who has left this world far too soon.'
The FAI has announced that it will hold a special tribute ahead of Ireland's next home game for the Bray boy.
'The Football Association of Ireland wishes to pass on its condolences to the family and friends of Aaron O'Kelly,' said the FAI in a statement.
'Only 12 years old, Aaron passed away after falling ill. He was a member of Ardmore Rovers in County Wicklow, where he recently won the Player of the Year award.
'A pupil at St Cronan's Primary School in Bray, Aaron was a popular figure and deemed to be a very talented goalkeeper after helping Ardmore to DDSL success before last Christmas. 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,' said the FAI statement.
Bray Emmets GAA club also offered its condolences to Aaron's family. 'Aaron spent some time with us in Bray in our academy. Bray Emmets club and its members would like to send their condolences to the O'Kelly family at this very sad time.'
Bray Wanderers also sympathised. 'Bray Wanderers FC would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family of young Aaron O'Kelly.
'Goalkeeper Aaron was a member of Ardmore Rovers U12s here in Bray.
'During this difficult period we also keep Aaron's friends and teammates in Ardmore Rovers in our thoughts.'
A spokesman for Ardmore Rovers said that football and sports clubs from all over Ireland and as far as the UK have been sending their messages of sympathy and support.
Aaron's funeral Mass will take place at St Fergal's tomorrow (Thursday, January 11) at noon, followed by interment in Springfield Cemetery.
Donations to Bray First Responders are requested in lieu of flowers.