A  MURDER investigation has been launched after the death of an 18-year-old Gaelic footballer who was assaulted after Christmas.

Fionntán McGarvey was assaulted outside a licenced premises on Finaghy Road North around 1am on December 27.

A 21-year-old man was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of murder has been released on bail pending further inquiries.

In a statement Fionntán’s family said: “We are devastated to lose our beautiful son Fionntán but take comfort that his wish to donate his organs will provide other families with hope at our time of deep loss.

“The family is grateful for the many messages of sympathy and support we have received. We would ask for privacy at this most difficult time.”

Detective Chief Inspector Raymond Phelan said: “We believe that Fionntán was assaulted outside licensed premises around 1am on Monday 27 December.

“Police attended and Fionntán was brought to hospital for treatment to his injuries. Tragically, despite treatment, he died this morning.

“I know there was a large crowd of people in the area at the time and I am appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the assault, or have any information to come forward. I am also appealing to anyone with mobile phone or dash-cam footage that could help with enquiries to contact police on 101 quoting reference 184 of 27/12/21.”

Fionntán played Gaelic football for St Brigid’s GAC in South Belfast. 

In a statement the club said: “It is with a great sadness that we announce the tragic passing of Fionntán McGarvey, a member of our U20 and Senior Football Panel.

“The club passes on its condolences to Fionntán’s parents, Lorcan and Aveen, his brothers Caolan and Daire, and his sister, Sorcha.

"Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam.”

Tributes have also been paid to the Queen's student by Queen's GAA and Aquinas Football Club.