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'No words' Tributes to Kilkenny boy (13) who died after sliotar accident in school

It appears that the sliotar hit Harry in the head while he was playing with friends in the school yard at lunch at his secondary school, St Kieran’s College in Kilkenny city.

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St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny

St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny

St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny

A Kilkenny schoolboy who died in a freak accident after being struck by a sliotar at his school was a promising young hurler who dreamed of playing for the famous Kilkenny Cats hurling squad one day.

He was named locally yesterday evening as Harry Byrne (13) from Gowran, Co Kilkenny.

Local councillor Denis Hynes lives just down the road from the Byrne family home and knew Harry well as a neighbour and his former soccer coach at the Bridge United football club in nearby Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny.

He said Harry’s family, including his two brothers and two sisters and parents Annette and Fergal Byrne are absolutely devastated after Harry was taken off life support at a hospital in Dublin on Tuesday.

He was initially rushed to St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny after he suffered catastrophic head injuries following the accident on Monday.

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Stock photo: Sportsfile

Stock photo: Sportsfile

Stock photo: Sportsfile

While the cause of the accident remains under investigation, it appears that the sliotar hit Harry in the head while he was playing with friends in the school yard at lunch at his secondary school, St Kieran’s College in Kilkenny city.

Mr Hynes said the entire community is in shock.

"People have no words,” he said.

He described Harry as a popular and likeable young man who was “full of energy” and loved sports, especially hurling.

"No question, hurling was his first love,” he told Independent.ie.

Harry’s under-13 hurling club, the Young Irelands in Gowran, won the A1 championship last month for the second consecutive year and Harry had just recently tried out for Kilkenny County under-13 development team and was anxiously awaiting word to see if he made the team, he said.

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Club chairman Denis Quinlan said all training sessions and fixtures have been cancelled as a mark of respect to Harry and his family.

"We’re all shell shocked,” he told Independent.ie.

"It’s unprecedented,” he said of the nature of the accident.

"There’s no template for something like this.”

"As a club we want to do as much as we can to help the family,” he said.

He said Harry was “a grand young fella” who as recently as last week was out selling programmes for the club to raise funds.

He said Harry, who typically played half forward for the club, was a promising young player whose death has left his fellow teammates bereft.

Meanwhile, St Kieran’s College issued a statement tonight on the tragedy.

It read: “St Kieran’s College deeply regrets that a tragic accident happened at lunchtime yesterday involving a young student of our school. The accident occurred while the students were playing normally.

“This is a terrible tragedy for his family, friends, parish and all in our school community. You will understand the need for privacy at this time.

“Prayers and offers of support have been pouring in and are greatly appreciated.”

The statement added: “Psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service are present with us in the school supporting and advising teachers in their efforts to care for our students at this time. The school continues to be open to parents, to support them and to offer them advice and guidance.

"Each and every one of our students are precious to us – we pray for each other today – May St Kieran be for us a support at this time.”

Gardaí confirmed that they are treating the incident as a “tragic accident” and are investigating the circumstances of the incident.

A file will be prepared for the Coroner’s Court in due course, the force said in a statement.

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