Tributes have poured in for George Elliott, Ballinamallard, who has been described as “an inspiration” by those who knew him.

Mr. Elliott who was aged 63 passed away at his family home in Ballinamallard on January 1 after a five-year battle with cancer. His funeral took place on Thursday, January 3, at Magheracross Parish Church, Ballinamallard at 1pm.

Mr. Elliott’s son, Paul, said that his father faced his illness with determination every day:

“Dad never complained about anything and he just took everything one day at a time. That was his way throughout the illness. He just got on with it and never complained.”

Mr. Elliott is survived by his wife Gloria and his two sons, Gareth and Paul, with Paul touching on the two loves of his father’s life.

“As much as cancer was part of his life for so long, we prefer to remember him the way that he was. Family and football were huge parts of his life. Football was an absolute passion to the point of an obsession of his. He was so proud to be involved with football and loved it,” he said before explaining the esteem his father was held in within the community:

“There has been a lot of well-wishers in the past two days. There is a big family connection right around Ballinamallard and he would have been very well loved and liked within the community.”

Mr. Elliott was a well-known figure in local football circles and it was in his coaching of youth players where he will be most remembered. He was a driving force at NFC Kesh and was a founding member, and later manager of the Fermanagh Milk Cup while he also worked with FIFA coach, Christophe Moulin at the IFA Fermanagh Centre of Excellence.

It is testament to the impression that Mr. Elliott had on people that he worked with that Mr. Moulin travelled to Northern Ireland and Ballinamallard to visit Mr. Elliott last year.

Denzil McDaniel, former Editor of the Impartial Reporter and a Milk Cup manager, knew Mr. Elliott for over thirty years and described him as a man with “immense courage” and a real “inspiration”.

“As a coach what I will always remember about George was that it was never about him. It was always about the youngsters. He had a love of developing the skills in young players and the thing about it was, this was reciprocated from the players. They loved George and his coaching style and this manner,” said Denzil.

Tributes have been pouring in on social media for Mr. Elliott and alongside his ability as a coach of considerable skill, it is his manner and way with people that is being most fondly remembered.

“You know the saying in football about nice guys finishing last, well George was the exception to that. He was very successful but more than that he was just a complete gentleman. I can’t imagine anyone saying anything negative about George Elliott. A real family man who was an all-round great guy. He faced his illness with tremendous courage and he was a very inspirational man,” Mr. McDaniel concluded.

Another well known figure in local football, Harry McConkey current Ballinamallard first team manager, was a close friend of Mr. Elliott’s having worked with him at the Fermanagh centre of excellence. Mr. McConkey spoke about his last visit with Mr. Elliott:

“I saw him on Christmas Eve, and he just continued to be an inspiration to me. He was so courageous and despite everything he had so much positivity too. And with George he just had a very strong human touch to him. He had a great ability to stay calm and be assured, both in football and in life.”

The service saw family flowers only with donations in lieu if desired to Marie Curie Cancer Care and The Renal Unit, Tyrone County Hospital, Omagh