Family devastated after death of ‘football-mad’ boy, aged 11

Tragic Stephen McElroy who died suddenly
Tragic Stephen McElroy who died suddenly

Tributes are pouring in for tragic 11-year-old Stephen McElroy who died suddenly at the weekend.

The Rathfriland Football Club Youth member from Ballyward in Co Down died after feeling unwell on Saturday.

After being taken to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry he died the following day (March 29).

Family member Karen Power told the News Letter that the Primary Seven schoolboy’s parents Pattie and Paul were “devastated at their sons death”.

She said Stephen, who also played GAA for Leitrim, had been “best buds” with his younger brother Ryan.

“He had just got an A in his transfer test and was due to start Saint Colmans in September,” she added. “He was an extremely intelligent wee boy.

“Apart from football he loved helping his dad out on the farm, especially now when it is lambing season.”

On Monday night Rathfriland Football Youth posted a message on Facebook to inform members of the youngster’s death.

More than 50 messages of condolence were added to the post which read: “Many of you may already have heard but it is with a heavy heart we inform you of the death of our U11 player Stephen McElroy.

“Stephen has been a member of Rathfriland Football Club Youth for a number of seasons and had become a very valued and popular member. His talents on the football pitch were endless, a speedy left winger, striker and occasional left back.”

It added: “Stephen will be sorely missed by all. We are all devastated. Words cannot convey the sense of loss and we feel privileged to have known Stephen.

“As a mark of respect there will be no youth training this week or youth matches on Saturday.”

A PSNI spokeswoman said police “received a report of the sudden death of an 11-year-boy at Daisy Hill Hospital on the afternoon of March 29, 2015”.

She said his death is not being treated as suspicious.

His funeral will be held on Wednesday at noon in Saint Patrick’s Church, Gargory outside Banbridge.