Gardai are investigating whether a close associate of a major Irish international football star was involved in luring Dublin's latest gun victim to an attempt on his life.
Eddie Staunton (25), a cousin of slain feud murder victim Gary Hutch, was understood to be making a good recovery last night after being shot twice at about 9.55pm on Sunday in Dublin's north inner city.
Sources said the brutal attempted murder has led to a "major increase" in tensions in the locality with fears that some of the Hutch gang may attempt to avenge Staunton's shooting.
Independent.ie can reveal that mobsters are blaming a younger associate of the star Irish footballer for luring Mr Staunton to the shocking incident in which he was shot twice as he was being given first aid following a hit-and-run incident.
The footballer's associate is aged in his early 20s and is a suspected low-level drug dealer.
An older relative of this young man, aged in his 30s, previously had close links to the Kinahan cartel and was involved in laundering money for the international crime gang.
Sources said Sunday night's shooting may be linked to a "deal that went wrong" involving a close pal of Mr Staunton.
This pal is suspected of flooding the north inner city with prescription pills.
Mr Staunton is not involved in crime or the deadly gangland feud between some of his associates and the Kinahan cartel.
"The footballer's close associate is suspected of making a phone call that led to Mr Staunton cycling in the area," a source said last night.
The footballer's associate is known to gardai and was present when Martin O'Rourke (24) was shot in a case of mistaken identity on Sheriff Street in the north inner city last April 14.
However the "tablet dealer" is not suspected of any involvement in this killing of O'Rourke, which caused nationwide outrage.
No arrests have yet been made in relation to Sunday night's non-fatal shooting but it is understood that the gunman was unmasked.
Four shots were fired at Mr Staunton from a small .22 handgun by the driver of the car who had rammed the victim off the road. He was hit in the groin and leg.