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Deceased, Niall O’Brien, and one of his hurling heroes, former All-Ireland winning Clare hurler and ex-Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo sourced on Niall O’Brien’s Facebook page

Man arrested in connection with death of Clare club hurler in Greece

Greek police are questioning an Irish man in connection with the death of Clare club hurler, Niall O’Brien, on the island of Ios yesterday, Monday, reports David Raleigh.

Mr O’Brien, 22, from Castletroy, Limerick, who played with Broadford GAA, died after being struck by another male, police said.

The alleged assault took place on the island’s largest town, Chora, which has become popular with Irish tourists.

A 20-year old man was arrested by police and is being questioned on suspicion of striking Mr O’Brien “with his hands”, causing his death.

A police information release sent to this reporter stated the alleged assault resulted in Mr O’Brien “falling on the road”.

Mr O’Brien was “transported by ambulance to the Health Centre of the island” where he was pronounced dead.

Police said investigating officers went to the scene of the alleged assault where they located a male suspect and “brought him to the Police Department”.

Police said the arrested man was to be “taken to the Naxos Prosecutor’s Office” where he may face charges and “a forensic examination was ordered”.

A post mortem is due to be conducted on the body to help determine the cause of death.

Mr O’Brien was a star hurler with Broadford GAA, South East Clare, and a member and employee of Castletroy Golf Club in Limerick.

Paying tribute, Broadford GAA said: “It is with a broken heart that Broadford Hurling Club are in deep mourning at the sad passing of one of our great characters and players, Niall O’Brien.”

Offering condolences to Mr O’Brien’s devastated parents, Mike and Anne, and his brothers Cian, Eoin, Alan, a club spokesperson added: “Niall, along with his three brothers, has given great service to Broadford Hurling Club, Niall has played all grades with the club, having only lined out for a win with our adult teams as recently as last week.”

“Niall was an extremely talented prospect and we will never forget his ‘Man of the Match’ winning performance when scoring 1-11 to win the u21 B county final in 2019.”

“Having completed 3 years, Niall was about to enter his final year in University of Limerick doing Financial Maths. Niall’s large circle of friends will remember him as a hugely popular, larger than life character.”

“Niall was at the centre of every gathering, whether it be sporting or socially, and his good humour and witty comments kept everybody entertained. Broadford and Monaleen will be a much sadder place without him, Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.”

Other clubs, including Ballyea GAA, extended “deepest sympathies” adding, “our hearts and thoughts are with his family, friends, and club mates at this terrible time”.

It had been thought Mr O’Brien was also struck by a car after falling onto the road from the impact of the alleged assault, and police have been asked to clarify this.

Mr O’Brien had been holidaying with a group of 20 friends at the time.

A family friend said: “Niall was a brilliant sportsman, he was a serious hurler, he was huge into golf and gaa, soccer, everything really.”

“He was an unassuming lad, and he had recently recovered from a hernia operation and he was thrilled that he had got the go ahead to play golf again.”

“This is just a terrible tragedy. Niall was the nicest lad you could ever have met, and the whole community just can’t believe what has happened.”

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust confirmed it was liaising with the deceased’s family in order to help arrange to repatriate Mr O’Brien’s remains home for burial following post mortem.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was aware of the case and was providing “consular assistance” to the deceased’s family.

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