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Shock as Galway hurling star Niall dies at age of 22

THE GAA world is reeling following the tragic death of All-Ireland star Niall Donoghue.

The 22-year-old Galway hurler was found dead at his home in the village of Kilbeacanty yesterday.

He would have celebrated his 23rd birthday tomorrow.

Local priest Fr Patrick Callanan said: "He had his whole life ahead of him. It's just very sad for the family and the whole community. I was with them last night. Devastation is the word I'd use."

Niall's heartbroken father Francis and sister Orla are now being comforted by friends and relatives as they await the return of Niall's younger brother Shane who is travelling home from Australia.

The young hurler had been an integral part of the Galway hurling team and played in the All-Ireland final last year. He had also helped the county secure glory in the 2011 Under-21 All-Ireland.

Family friend and secretary of the Galway Hurling Board Pat Kearney said that the village was in shock. "There are no words that can describe it. The whole place is in shock, the parish and the club," he said.

Mr Kearney, who was a fellow clubman of the young hurler at Kilbeacanty, paid tribute to the family who were all deeply involved in hurling.

He said: "Our thoughts are with Francie and Shane and Orla. Niall's mother passed away a few years ago and Francie raised the family and did trojan work.

"He was a very talented hurler who had a great career behind him and a promising future ahead of him."


A statement from Galway GAA said: "Galway GAA is in shock with the news of the tragic, and untimely death of Niall Donoghue.

"On behalf of the entire Galway GAA community, at home and abroad, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to Niall's family and especially his father Francis, brother Shane, sister Orla, uncles, aunts, and all his relatives.

"We offer all our condolences also to the members of Niall's club and Parish, Kilbeacanty, to his fellow inter-county panellists on the Galway hurling team, and to his many friends and colleagues.

"Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam uasal dílis."

In a player's profile piece for the Galway Hurling Supporters Club last year Niall Donoghue had spoken of his dream of winning an All-Ireland Senior title, admitting that it was his best motivator.

He also advised younger players to "train hard, even harder when things are going bad and you will get rewarded eventually". His excellent performances throughout the 2012 Championship earned the young hurler an All Star nomination.

The family are now finalising funeral arrangements for the young man.