Limerick and the G.A.A. world are in shock this week following the tragic death early on Monday of one of the county’s top referees.

Shane Hourigan, 44, from Rathkeale and a member of the local St. Mary’s/Seán Finns G.A.A. club, died after his car was involved in a two car collision at Reen’s Pike just before 7am. Driving conditions at the time were extremely hazardous. Mr. Hourigan was the only occupant of the car at the time of the accident. There was just one occupant in the other car who was removed to University Hospital Limerick for treatment for his injuries.

A matter of hours before his tragic death Shane had officiated at the All-Ireland Intermediate Clubs Hurling semi-final in Navan featuring The Rower-Inistioge, Kilkenny, and Clooney Gaels, Antrim.

A member of the Munster and National Referees panels, Shane Hourigan took charge of last year’s All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final featuring Kilkenny and Waterford, the Munster Under 21 Hurling Final involving Clare and Tipperary and many more key fixtures at county, provincial and national level.

Leading the tributes to Shane Hourigan this week was G.A.A. president Liam O’Neill who said, “It was with great regret that we learnt of the tragic loss of Shane this morning following a car accident. He was regarded as one of the Association’s most promising up and coming hurling referees and was highly respected by his peers. Our thoughts and prayers and those of the wider GAA membership are with his wife Marie, son Shane, mother Ellen, his immediate family and wide circle of friends at this sad time.”

Speaking on behalf of Comhairle na Mumhan, Cathaoirleach Robert Frost said, “It was with great sadness and shock that we heard of the sudden loss of Shane Hourigan. He made a great contribution to Cumann Lúthchleas Gael and his tragic death at a young age is a huge loss to his family, friends and community. I extend deepest sympathy on behalf of Comhairle na Mumhan and on my own behalf to his family and assure them that our thoughts and prayers are with them at this sad and difficult time.”

A statement from Limerick County Board read, “Shane was one of our premier referees and his achievements in refereeing at both local and national level were a great source of pride to Limerick G.A.A. A member of the St Mary’s Seán Finns G.A.A. Club in Rathkeale where he was a former player, former administrator and loyal supporter he will be remembered as a gentleman, both on and off the field. He was highly respected by players, mentors and officials for his style and diligence in refereeing.”

Local T.D. Dan Neville in a statement said, “I have known Shane since he was a child and value my friendship with him and his extended family. I convey my sympathy to his family and friends.”

Shane is survived by his wife Marie, son Shane, mother Helen, brothers, sisters and extended family.

Shane Hourigan was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery following 12 noon Mass at St. Mary’s Church, Rathkeale, on Wednesday.