The Irish sports world has been left reeling by the sudden death of Niall Donoghue, a top class Galway hurler, who took part in last year’s All Ireland Final.

Donoghue (22), who played in the half back line and at midfield for Galway was found dead around 7pm on Wednesday evening. The young player was a key member of the Galway team that almost won the All Ireland last year but were defeated by Kilkenny in a replay. He was considered one of the most talented hurlers of his generation.

Local parish priest Father Patrick Callanan told the Irish Independent, "I was there last night with the family. The father is devastated and the brother is coming home from Australia and his sister is in college in Athlone, and she just came home last night."

"They're only getting it together at this stage," he said.

"It's very tragic for the family and for all of his hurling members who played with him."

"They are all very shocked. It only happened last night"

"They always do something here for a funeral especially for something like this."

He said Niall's mother died "around 17 or 18 years ago" following a battle with cancer.

"It's very sad."

Pat Kearney, Galway Hurling Board Secretary, said the entire county was devastated by the tragic death.

He said the prayers of the entire community went out to Niall's family and community.

“He was a very talented hurler who had a promising future ahead of him,” he said.

He would have celebrated his 23rd birthday on Friday.