A YOUNG woman drove a man who was shot in the head toward Thomond Park where thousands of fans had watched Munster's Heineken Cup clash before flagging down an ambulance.
The woman in her 20s, thought to be the man's girlfriend, raced from the scene of the shooting in the direction of the stadium where fans were still gathered in Limerick city on Friday night.
Searches for the weapon used in the gangland-style shooting are expected to continue today.
Gardai are appealing for information after the 27-year-old man sustained serious injuries when he was shot near the rugby stadium.
The shooting happened at Shanabooley Road, Ballynanty, at around 10.30pm, less than an hour after the venue had hosted the Heineken Cup match between Munster and Northampton.
The victim, who is related to members of the notorious Collopy family, received wounds to his head and upper body when the car he was a passenger in was shot at by a lone gunman. Gardai have already interviewed the man, who is recovering in hospital.
Following the shooting, the woman managed to drive to the Hassett's Cross area where she alerted emergency services, who had been on duty at the match.
"It was just crazy, there were flashing lights and gardai everywhere," said one rugby fan who came upon the aftermath of the shooting.
In the confusion, some fans and locals were allowed to walk past the bullet-riddled car, which had damage to its windscreen and a smashed passenger-side window.
Another match-goer said: "We saw a squad car blocking the road with its blue lights on. We thought it was strange because the majority of fans had left at that stage and traffic was flowing again.
"We saw a car in the middle of the road and there was damage to the windscreen and passenger window.
"We thought it was a crash, but there was a woman on the side of the road with a garda and she was screaming 'he was shot in the head, he was shot in the head'."
The victim was treated for his injuries at the Mid Western Regional Hospital and a Health Service Executive spokesperson described his condition as stable.
Gardai have yet to establish a motive for the attack, but detectives believed it was the first major incident linked to the city's long-running feud in 2010.
Local Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan said he was "horrified" by what happened.
"It shows how reckless and fearless these gangs have become. This shooting in an area literally thronged with people as the crowds attended a sell-out rugby match at Thomond Park is a truly frightening attack," he said.
"It is evidence of the extreme and sinister level to which gangland crime has progressed and the lack of fear they operate within. This attack has filled me with horror and it demands a robust response from the Government," he added.
Gardai at Mayorstone who are investigating the shooting can be reached at (061) 456980.