Murder of rugby player 'marks a new low'


THE BRUTAL murder of 28-year-old Limerick man Shane Geoghegan marks a new low in a city "that is hanging its head in shame", its first citizen said yesterday.

Mayor John Gilligan made his remarks as people from across Limerick travelled to City Hall to sign a book of condolences opened in memory of the rugby player whose murder has numbed the local community.

Shane Geoghegan was shot dead just metres from his home in the Clomore area of Kilteragh housing estate in Dooradoyle where he lived with his girlfriend Jenna. He was mistakenly targeted by members of a criminal gang who mistook him for a drug dealer living in the same estate who is aligned to a rival faction.

Speaking about the murder, the mayor said an innocent person had been murdered in Limerick by people "who have nothing to offer the city, only brutality and tears".

"We always knew what these people were capable of doing, but they generally went out and murdered one another. Now they are murdering people without even checking to see if they are murdering the right people. It just goes to show how callous these criminals have become and it does mark a new low in our city," he said.

Mr Geoghegan was reposing at his mother Mary's home in Kilteragh last night where his rugby team-mates and Garryowen club members were invited to pay their respects. He will be buried tomorrow in Mungret Cemetery following 11am Mass in St Joseph's Church in Limerick city. Garryowen Rugby Club has also organised a special Mass in memory of the captain of the thirds team this Friday at 7.30pm.

This is not the first time that tragedy has visited the Geoghegan family.

Shane's younger sister Kate died of cancer when she was just 11 and his grandmother, who ran the Marion Nursing Home in Limerick, died in a road crash in France several years ago.

Shane is survived by his girlfriend Jenna, his brother Anthony and his parents Tom and Mary.

A second book of condolences was opened yesterday at Limerick County Council's headquarters in Dooradoyle, which is located near where he was killed.

Across the road in Garryowen rugby club, friends and players were yesterday still struggling to accept the death of a man described as the "heart and soul" of the well-known rugby club.

Eoghan Prendergast, secretary of the club, said that there was a "numbing shock" within the club following the murder.

"Shane's late uncle David played with us, his uncle John played with us. His uncle, Tony is on the committee here. We can't comprehend this, it is so sudden.

"The younger people looked up to him and the older people in the club, they can't talk. You couldn't meet a finer guy," said Mr Prendergast.

The chairman of Garryowen Rugby Club, Ger Clarke, said: "He was a young fellow making his way in life and playing rugby with Garryowen. He was a lovely human being. It is not something that any of us know how to deal with. Our concern is for his family, his friends and the players.

"The level of shock and trauma that they are going through is something I haven't seen in a long, long time.

"We are doing as well as we can in the circumstances, but our only thoughts are with Shane who we miss dreadfully and his family," he added.

Former team-mate and friend of Shane Geoghegan, Niall Collins who is a Fianna Fáil TD for west Limerick described his murder as an outrage.

"It is the outrage of outrages. Shane Geoghegan was a very genuine and nice guy who came from a respectable family," said Mr Collins.

"He was very popular with his peers and was captain of the Garryowen thirds team. He was never in trouble; he went about his work and enjoyed his social life. He was a very very nice person. This is a complete outrage."

Local Fine Gael Councillor Kevin Kiely, chairman of the joint policing committee in Limerick, said that he wrote to the former minister for justice Brian Lenihan five months ago "warning him that an innocent person would be caught up in this murderous campaign".

Mr Kiely said that he believed Limerick's criminal gangs "are a bigger threat than the IRA" and need to be dealt with accordingly.

"There should be special legislation to strengthen the hands of the gardaí. People involved in gangs should be rounded up and put into prison on the sworn affidavit of a superintendent," said Cllr Kiely.

Fine Gael Limerick East TD Michael Noonan yesterday called on the Government to introduce a law, which would make it a criminal offence to be part of an organised criminal gang.

"I am calling on the Government to look at the possibility of introducing legislation to outlaw membership of a criminal gang. It was done before with the IRA and the INLA and it needs to be done now. The public need it and the gardaí need it," said Mr Noonan.