NewsCrime Desk

Limerick feud has been reignited after gun attack on Keane

Two hitmen fired handguns at Christy Keane as he was sitting in his car
Two hitmen fired handguns at Christy Keane as he was sitting in his car

CRIME boss Christy Keane’s deadly rivals struck at their arch enemy at his weakest point in years.

The infamous Limerick gangster is lucky to have survived the gun attack this week as his bitter enemies in the McCarthy faction took their chance to settle old scores.

Four of his key men, including two convicted killers, are on bail and currently banned from entering the city.

Also his loose-cannon son Liam is still behind bars and not due for release until next year.

The Keane faction is currently outgunned by the McCarthy mob whose leaders are the prime suspects behind the attack.

“They’ve taken their eye off the ball, they’re not as interested in the feud,” said a Sunday World source this week.

The Keanes were previously backed by the Collopys but the two families are no longer aligned with each other. The crime gang’s power base has been seriously weakened, according to sources.

“The Island Field isn’t what is used to be for them. They have people who do things for them but they’re only kids,” said a source.

“The Keanes have no one behind them, they don’t have anyone who’d be able to go into the heart of Moyross,” our source added.

Christy Keane

We can reveal that the man arrested in connection with the shooting used to work as a baker for the father of Owen Tracey, who is closely aligned with the Keanes.

Noel Price is also well-known to gardaí but is low down on the underworld’s pecking order.

The 37-year-old was recently released from jail after serving time for hijacking a car which he drove away with a toddler still in the vehicle.

He is not thought to have been the gunman but he has feud-related convictions and served a ten-year sentence for a petrol bomb attack on a house in Clonlara in County Clare.

The target of the arson attack was the home of Philip Tracey whose son Owen survived the 2003 ambush in which Kieran Keane was killed to avenge Eddie Ryan’s murder.

A woman was also arrested this week by investigating gardaí and there is nothing to suggest at this stage that anyone quizzed had any involvement in the bid to kill Keane.

The early-morning ambush has shattered the fragile peace in the city that last saw a gangland murder in 2012.

But there is little doubt among the underworld and gardaí alike that the Keane faction won’t let the gun attack go unpunished. Hours after the gunmen’s assault, one Sunday World source said bluntly: “The feud is back on.”

Gardaí are working to track down the two gunmen who attacked Keane last Monday in the grounds of the University of Limerick.

Keane has a lot of enemies and there are several gangsters who would be happy to see him dead.

Sunday World sources claim that the McCarthy clan are the likely culprits behind the gun attack.

The man regarded as the leader of the clan, ‘Red’ Larry McCarthy, served a long stretch in prison in the UK for possession of guns.

He was caught red-handed in a flat which was described in court as a gun “supermarket.”

Since his return to Limerick in 2011 the soccer-mad gangster has kept a low profile and claims to be no longer involved in crime.

Christy Keane had been waiting to start a gym session when the gunmen approached his Nissan Navara shooting their handguns last Monday morning.

Sources say he had been a regular at the gym parking in the same place every morning before his work-out.

“There was no sense of taking any personal security precautions – he was a sitting duck,” said a source.

However, Keane’s fitness levels helped save his life.

The veteran gangster managed to run from his attackers and reached a running track 100 metres away where an off-duty nurse exercising gave him vital first aid.

He was operated on to repair bullet damage to an artery in his chest while another round clipped a lung.

Two other rounds fired by the would-be assassins hit him in the arms, according to Sunday World sources.

Although regarded as being clear of immediate danger he was later treated in the high dependency unit of the University Hospital Limerick.

He has since been moved to hospital in Cork.

Ironically the lethal gang warfare started with another failed attack on Keane in 2000 when his former enforcer Eddie Ryan tried to shoot him.

His gun jammed but Ryan’s fate was sealed and two years later he was gunned down in a hail of automatic gunfire in the Moose Bar.

Ryan was the first to die in the feud that has since claimed at least 18 lives and left dozens languishing in prison.

The Dundon brothers, three of whom are serving life in jail, were once the most violent gang in Limerick.

While Ger Dundon is reported to be re-establishing the family business between the UK and Limerick they are not suspected of being behind the attack.

In the past gangland assassinations in Limerick have been marked by wild parties, bonfires and gloating graffiti.

Despite the relative calm of recent years trouble has been brewing between the criminal factions in and tension increased since the start of this year.