A YOUNG Irish footballer who fell ill and died in hospital after a match yesterday has been described as "popular and friendly" by his club.
Aaron O'Kelly, 12, played as a goalkeeper for Ardmore Rovers in Bray, Co. Wicklow and was recently honoured as their player of the year.
Following the club's game on Saturday, the youngster fell ill at his home on Herbert Road in Bray and the emergency services were called.
Aaron was taken by ambulance to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, where he tragically passed away.
It is understood that the 12-year-old had been poorly recently but felt well enough to participate in his club's underage match yesterday.
In a statement, Ardmore Rovers said they were greatly saddened by the death of their talented goalkeeper – who helped his team win the Dublin District Schoolboys League before Christmas.
“Aaron O’Kelly epitomised the spirit of the club and was a very popular and friendly figure in his team,” a club spokesman said.
“His dad, Paul has managed Aaron’s team for several years and is a valued member of our club.
“Ardmore Rovers would like to send their condolences to members of the O’Kelly family at this very sad time.”
Aaron's sudden passing has left his family distraught and shocked the local community in Bray.
Local councillor Michael O’Connor said: “It’s an absolute tragedy and heartbreaking for the poor family.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and his friends. It’s such a young age and for that to happen is simply heartbreaking.
“The local area is in shock over the news.”
Gardaí in Bray said they are treating Aaron Kelly's death as a tragedy.