THE 47 year-old stab victim who died following an assault in Ballynahinch during the early hours of Sunday morning was a former manager of Dromara Village football team.
David Mills from Dundrum had been celebrating following a win on the cricket grounds in Drumaness when he was attacked around 12.45am in the Dromore Street area of the town.
A 30 year-old man has since been arrested in connection with the incident which took place close to a hot food bar.
Mr Mills, who was well known in football circles, having previously played with Glentoran and Portadown teams, was rushed to hospital with serious head injuries but died some nine hours later at 10 o’clock on Sunday morning.
A spokesperson for the Dromara club said Mr Mills had managed the side from 2001 until 2003 during which time the club experienced one of its most successful periods, reaching the semi-finals of the Border Cup and narrowly missing out on promotion to the premier section of the amateur league.
“During this time Dromara Village was considered at its best with high calibre players such as Damian McParland and Andy Kilmartin among the players,” he said. “Davy was a true gentleman and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
Another former team-mate, Banbridge man Paul Evans, also paid tribute to the sportsman he had played alongside when the two were both signed to Portadown in the early to mid-nineties.
“Davy was a very charistmatic character; a great player and just one of the guys,” said Paul. “He loved a joke and banter in the changing rooms, but on the field Davy was a competitive player; he was a tough tackler and a winner through and through. It is very shocking to think what happened.”
Local SDLP councillor, Patsy Toman, said Mr Mills was from a “great sporting family” and had travelled with a group of friends to Ballynahinch for some takeaway food when “some sort of altercation” occurred.
And adding his voice to the tributes, Ulster Unionist MLA John McCallister said the local community was in shock following the sudden death and he urged anyone with information to contact the police immediately.