Northern Ireland news

Young Co Down gaelic footballer Niall Laverty dies suddenly

OUTSTANDING: Niall Laverty, front row, far left, after winning the MacLarnon cup final with St Patrick’s, Downpatrick Picture: Hugh Russell

A YOUNG gaelic footballer has been remembered as "outstanding, thoughtful, caring, lovable" following his death.

Niall Laverty (19) from Saul in Co Down died suddenly on Thursday.

A past pupil of St Patrick's Grammar School in Downpatrick, he was due to begin a sports studies degree at Ulster University this month.

Niall was vice-captain of his school's gaelic football team, which won this year's MacLarnon Cup.

In a statement, the school said he would be "deeply missed".

"Niall made an immediate impact on the Red High family when he walked through the gates in September 2012," a spokesman said.

"Staff and students got to know a bubbly, funny, and kind young man with a great love of sport, place, family and friends.

"Niall progressed through his time in the Red High showing great sporting ability. He was captain of many teams throughout the school and was a true inspiration to his teammates. A team player in every sense, he was selfless in his displays and always helped wherever he could."

He added that this culminated in his performances on the MacLarnon winning squad.

"Niall put the team first and did any job asked of him. His coaches had no hesitation in awarding him player of the year on a team of outstanding players," he said.

"Niall was an outstanding young man, thoughtful, caring, lovable and was a close friend to many of our former and current pupils."

Outside school, he was a member of both Saul and Ballygalget clubs as well as Ballynagross FC.

Several GAA clubs posted tributes online.

A spokesperson for Ballynagross FC said that Niall was a "charming and outgoing young man".

"As a footballer Niall was exceptional, as a person he was a superstar. Niall touched the lives of those lucky enough to have met him," he said.

His funeral is to take place at St Patrick's Church in Saul on Sunday.

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