TRAGIC Galway hurler Niall Donoghue was due to celebrate his 23rd birthday tomorrow – just two days after he was found dead.
The Kilbeacanty clubman died suddenly on Wednesday evening at around 7pm.
Donoghue played at right-half back against Kilkenny in last year’s All-Ireland final, and was also on the Leinster SHC winning Galway side.
He won an All-Ireland u21 medal in 2011 before graduating to the senior panel under Anthony Cunnigham.
GAA stars across Ireland – as well as One Direction singer Niall Horan – have taken to Twitter to pay tribute to Donoghue.
“Galway GAA is in shock with the news of the tragic, and untimely, death of Niall Donoghue,” Galway County Board said in a statement.
“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.”
Cork hurler and footballer Eoin Cadogan tweeted: “Awful to hear of the passing of Niall Donoghue. At only 22 years of age another star of our games taken away tragically. May he rest in peace.”
Kilkenny corner-back Paul Murphy tweeted: “Thoughts are with the family and friends of Niall Donoghue. Gutted to hear the news. Great man and great respect for him. #RIP #Galway”