The uncle of Alan Hawe has spoken of the raw emotion that the family are struggling to cope with in the wake of the Ballyjamesduff tragedy.
Nicholas Hawe spoke to the Irish Independent in the small village of Windgap in rural Kilkenny last night.
"It's just difficult at the moment…it's all very raw," he said.
Mr Hawe is one of the founding members of Alan's beloved Windgap Handball Club, where the father of three was heavily involved in the sport.
He was an accomplished athlete who was committed to the game and reaped the rewards - winning several trophies over his career.
"Alan would have won a number of titles," his devastated uncle Nicholas said.
"He played from about eight years of age. He won provincial and other titles.
"He played with his brother and his cousin Niall."
Other devastated locals revealed that he was "really proud" of his roots and was well liked in the community.
Villagers said that Alan was "born and raised" in the area and only left when he sought a career in teaching.
"Although he hasn't really lived here for more than 10 years, people still remember him," said one local.
"His family are rooted in the area. The Hawes are really lovely people… it's just terrible."
A small number of villagers visited Saint Nicholas's Church to say a prayer for the Hawe family.
Michael O'Shea, the secretary of the Windgap Handball Club, also paid tribute to Alan, describing him as a "proud" man.
"Since he took up his post (in Cavan), I haven't come across him in recent years," Mr O'Shea told the Irish Independent.
"We're in shock. The club and the whole country's thoughts are with the family.
"Alan's father and his uncles would have been involved in the sport over the years.
"They are a great family for the handball. He was a great player and always participated to the fullest. He will be sadly missed."