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Thursday 21 November 2019

Gardai fear boxer killed in hit-and-run horror was targeted in attack

Kevin Sheehy boxing in Dublin last year. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Kevin Sheehy boxing in Dublin last year. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Gardai investigating a hit-and-run incident which claimed the life of a talented Irish boxer believe the victim was targeted deliberately.

Two men were arrested in the midlands and were last night due to be brought to a garda station in Limerick to be interviewed over the death of Kevin Sheehy (20), from John Carew Park, Limerick.

Gardai believe the two men, aged 18 and 28, were in the car when it struck Mr Sheehy and fatally injured him.

"This investigation has progressed very quickly and resulted in two suspects being arrested by gardai in the midlands," a source told the Herald.

"They will be processed before being transferred to Limerick for questioning in relation to the murder of Kevin Sheehy."

Catastrophic

Sources said that, as part of several lines of inquiry, gardai are probing if Mr Sheehy was targeted when he was struck by a 4x4 Mitsubishi Shogun.

They are also satisfied this vehicle is the same vehicle they recovered on the city's northside yesterday and forensic examinations will be carried out.

A source said that the vehicle was not stolen.

Mr Sheehy's body was discovered at around 4.40am yesterday at Hyde Road on the south of Limerick city, after he had suffered catastrophic injuries.

It is believed Mr Sheehy was at, or near, a house party taking place in the area in the early hours of yesterday morning.

A strong line of inquiry is that the promising boxer, who was not involved in crime, became involved in a dispute in the vicinity of this house party.

Gardai are still attempting to establish how many people were involved in the hit-and-run, and believe a number of people were in the area at the time of the incident.

At a media briefing at Roxboro Road Garda station, Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche, who oversees garda operations across the Limerick Division, called for "calm" in the local community, and issued a reminder to people that gardai were actively investigating the matter.

Mr Sheehy was due to become a father in five weeks' time, and he had set his sights on representing Ireland in boxing at the 2024 Olympics.

According to sources, the probe is following several lines of inquiry, including that Mr Sheehy may have been followed after leaving a house near Hyde Road, shortly before he died.

Asked if gardai believed the hit-and-run was a deliberate act, Chief Supt Roche told reporters yesterday: "We are still looking at the circumstances of that, and when we know more, we will be able to tell you."

Chief Supt Roche said gardai had recovered a vehicle with "English registration", which they believe was involved.

"We have recovered the vehicle, it wasn't burned out, and it's been removed for a technical examination," he said.

"The vehicle involved was a black SUV Mitsubishi with a partial reg WV 52."

Chief Supt Roche said the car "failed to remain at the scene and crossed the city after the incident".

The black SUV was "found abandoned on the northside of the city near the Gaelic grounds, in a residential area".

Chief Supt Roche appealed for witnesses to contact gardai locally on 061-214340 or via the Garda Confidential Line on 1800-666-111.

The State Pathologist is due to conduct a post-mortem examination on Mr Sheehy's body at University Hospital Limerick today.

Mr Sheehy is survived by his parents, Kevin and Tracey, and his two sisters.

His fiancee Emma - expecting the couple's baby girl - was yesterday being comforted by family and friends.

Mr Sheehy's boxing coach Ken Moore broke down as he paid a heartfelt tribute to the "very talented" 20-year-old Olympic hopeful.

"He was the type of kid you could make a hundred tributes to," Mr Moore said.

"He was loved by everyone. He was very, very talented.

"In these sort of situations, everyone says he was a special person, but this kid just had something special. He had that X-factor.

"He's the best fighter I've trained since Andy Lee.

"He was special. It wasn't just his skills - he was so dedicated.

"As an athlete, he was very special, he was five times Irish champion, he is a current under-22 champion, which he has held for the last two years, even though he is only 20 years of age," Mr Moore added.

Senseless

"He was tipped by Bernard Dunne of High Performance as an athlete they were looking at for the 2024 Olympics.

"He had every-thing going for him. The guy was never in trouble a day in his life, even though he was from a rough area."

He described Mr Sheehy's death as "just senseless".

"Boxing was his life and his life was changing, because in five weeks' time he was due to have a baby girl. He's only 20, but he's been with Emma, his fiancee, since they were 15," he said.

"They were having a baby and it was all set up good for them."

Mr Moore said Mr Sheehy had just taken a break from boxing after he celebrated being crowned the Hull Box Cup heavyweight champion two weeks ago.

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