An uncle of Tipperary hurler Dillon Quirke has said the 24-year-old “lived and died for hurling”.
Dillon died at Tipperary University Hospital yesterday evening after he collapsed 28 minutes into a match between his club Clonoulty-Rossmore and Kilruane MacDonaghs.
He was rushed to hospital by ambulance having been treated by medical staff at the game but sadly passed away.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, his uncle, Andrew Fryday, chairman of Clonoulty-Rossmore, broke down in tears as he paid tribute to his nephew.
“Dillon was the heart and soul of our club. As captain of the senior team, he was our leading inspiration.
"As a person he was the perfect gentleman and the absolute dream of what any young man should be.
"This was also his breakthrough year in sport. He was coming into his time as a player at a club and county level. We were building the club around him for the next ten or 15 years,” he said.
“As a family we are all broken hearted and devastated. He was an outstanding young man who lived and died for hurling.”
He also paid tribute to those who came to Dillon’s aid after he collapsed
“I have to pay tribute to the compassion shown by the team we were playing against yesterday. When it happened, the player who was marking him put Dillon into the recovery position. He tried to look after him as best he could.
"And for those 20 minutes that Dillon played [before he collapsed] he was absolutely outstanding. He was the leader of the team.
"He had two sisters Shannon and Kellie. His mother and father have lost their only son,” said Mr Fryday.
Dillon's funeral will take place at St John the Baptist Church, Clonoulty, at noon on Tuesday.
President Michael D Higgins led nationwide tributes to Dillon, saying: “This is an inestimable loss not only to his family and friends but to his entire community to which he was making such a contribution.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was “shocked and saddened by the passing of Dillon Quirke”.
The untimely passing of Dillon has shocked the GAA community and many of the sport’s leading lights have paid tribute to the gifted inter-county star.
GAA president Larry McCarthy also offered his sympathies to Dillon’s family and friends. He said: “There is a huge sense of shock across the GAA community at the tragic loss of Dillon who had already achieved so much in his young life.
“He was a young man in his prime with so much potential and promise and on behalf of the GAA family I would like to extend my sympathies to Dillon’s parents, Dan and Hazel, and his sisters, Shannon and Kellie, at what is an unimaginably difficult time.”
"My deepest sympathies to all his family, friends, his teammates, and all the community in Tipperary,” he added.
Former Tipperary hurler and journalist Shane Stapleton said: “Impossible to get one's head around the tragedy this evening in Tipperary. RIP Dillon Quirke. Lovely lad who I interviewed after he scored 0-4 v Waterford in 2020 league, when he said: ‘I waited all my life for this, it’s a dream come true’. Taken too soon,” Shane said.
Kilruane MacDonaghs, the club Dillon faced on Friday night, said its members are devastated at his death.
“All in the Kilruane MacDonaghs Club are devastated at the tragic passing of Dillon Quirke. Sympathy to the Dillon's family & @ClonRossGAA. God Bless & Comfort his family and friends. No words.”
Buff Egan, a well-known GAA media personality, said Dillon’s death was “heartbreaking”.
“Heartbreaking to hear of the death of Clonoulty and Tipperary senior hurler Dillon Quirke who collapsed during a Tipperary SHC game with his club this evening. Devastating that a young man of 24 with his whole life ahead of him has sadly left this World. Rest in Peace Dillon,” he said.
Former Tipp hurler Shane McGrath said the sporting community of Tipperary is “numb” following Dillon’s death.
“Tragic news of the passing of Dillon Quirke. The sporting community in Tipp are numb. A brilliant talent who was only getting better & better for club & county. All thoughts & prayers are with his family & friends in @ClonRossGAA. The bed of heaven to Dillon”.
The Tipperary County Board also paid tribute to Dillon and, as a mark of respect, all GAA games scheduled to be played this weekend in Tipperary have been postponed.
“Tipperary GAA extends its heartfelt and sincere sympathies to Dan, Hazel, Shannon, Kellie and the extended Quirke family. Also to the Clonoulty Rossmore GAA Club and his teammates on the sad and tragic passing of Clonoulty Rossmore and Tipperary hurler Dillon Quirke.
“Dillon became ill during Friday evening’s County Senior Hurling Championship game between Clonoulty Rossmore and Kilruane MacDonaghs in Semple Stadium and was taken to Tipperary University Hospital in Clonmel where he passed away. Tipperary GAA wish to thank all those who attended to Dillon in Semple Stadium and in Tipperary University Hospital this evening.
“As a mark of respect to Dillon, Tipperary GAA have called off all games due to take place in the County Hurling Championships this weekend,” Jonathan Cullen, Tipperary GAA PRO said in a statement.
Munster GAA chairman Ger Ryan said Dillon was an “outstanding player” who “epitomised all that is good in sport displaying skill, courage and sportsmanship in abundance” and who had won “many accolades during his all too brief hurling career”.
RTÉ Sport presenter Jacqui Hurley described Dillon’s death as a “young like taken far too soon”.
Dozens of GAA clubs and organisations and thousands of supporters expressed their condolences online, as the country comes to terms with the loss of a young hurler with a bright future on and off the pitch.