Gardaí investigating a fatal hit-and-run in Limerick in which promising young boxer Kevin Sheehy was killed, have appealed for calm.
Garda sources said that, as part of several lines of inquiry, they were investigating if Kevin Sheehy, (20), from John Carew Park, Limerick, was specifically targeted. they also confirm they are monitoring all airports and ferry ports in the hunt for the hit-and-run driver.
At a media briefing at Roxboro Road garda station, Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche, who oversees garda operations across the entire Limerick Division, called on the driver of a black Mitsubishi Shogun SUV to make contact with gardaí.
He also called for “calm” in the local community, where Mr Sheehy’s body was discovered, and issued a reminder to people that gardaí were actively investigating the matter.
Gardaí do not believe Mr Sheehy was involved in criminality.
He was due to become a father in five weeks, and he had set his sights on representing Ireland in boxing in the 2024 Olympics.
Mr Sheehy’s body was discovered around 4.40am at Hyde Road on the south of Limerick city, after he had suffered catastrophic injuries following a hit-and-run.
Asked if gardaí believed the hit-and-run was a deliberate act, Chief Supt Roche told reporters: “We are still looking at the circumstances of that and when we know more we will be able to tell you.”
He said gardaí were “building up a profile of (the deceased’s) movements”, and “looking at house-to-house enquiries, gathering all sorts of CCTV in the area, including from any premises he may have visited."
Chief Supt Roche told reporters that gardaí were “carrying out an investigation into a very serious incident which occurred at Hyde Road at 4.40am approximately”.
“In the course of this incident a young man was knocked down and fatally injured. He was pronounced dead at the scene and removed to hospital.”
Chief Roche said: “We have recovered the vehicle - it wasn't burned out, and it has been removed for a technical examination. The vehicle involved was a black SUV Mitsubishi with a partial reg WV 52.”
Chief 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 north side of the city near the Gaelic Grounds, in a residential area”.
Chief Roche appealed for witnesses to contact gardai locally on 061214340 or via the Garda Confidential Line on 1800-666-111.
Appealing directly to the SUV driver to make contact with gardaí, Chief Roche said: “I would also ask that the driver of this vehicle come to Roxboro Road garda station or any garda station, and talk to us about what happened.”
“We would also appeal to members of the public, especially in the Hyde Road area and in Limerick city, to remain calm and that this matter is under investigation by the gardaí here in Limerick.”
He added: “I offer my condolences to the family for this tragedy...and to support them in any way that we can, and I would ask the people of Limerick to also offer support.”
The State Pathologist is due to conduct a post mortem on Mr Sheehy’s body at university Hospital Limerick, tomorrow.
Mr Sheehy, who was one of three siblings, is survived by his parents, Kevin and Tracey, and his two sisters.
'Never in trouble a day in his life'
Kevin Sheehy’s boxing coach, Ken Moore, broke down as he paid a heartfelt tribute to the “very talented” 20-year Olympic hopeful who was knocked down and killed Monday.
“He was the type of kid you could make a hundred tributes to. He was loved by everyone. He was very very talented,” Mr Moore said.
“In these sort of situations everyone says (the deceased) 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 continued.
“He was special. It wasn't just his skills - he was so dedicated,” Mr Moore added.
“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.”
“He was tipped by Bernard Dunne High Performance as an athlete they were looking at for the 2024 Olympics. He had everything going for him. The guy was never in trouble a day in his life, even though he was from a rough area,” Mr Moore said.
He described Mr Sheehy’s death as “just senseless, 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 with Emma, his fiancé, since they were 15.”
“They were having a baby and it was all set up good for them.”
'He wanted to live right for his baby girl'
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.
“He had a couple of weeks off, because we are just back from England where he won another big international competition. He was getting four or five weeks off from me before we went back and made a serious assault on the league title,” Mr Moore said.
“It had been his goal to win the Hull Championship which he did. He told me over there that he hadn’t drank (alcohol) in 11 weeks in the build-up to it, because he wanted to get this right and because he wanted to live right, and because he wanted to succeed in his sport - not only for himself, but for his family and for his baby girl.”
Mr Sheehy, one of three siblings, is survived by his parents Kevin Sheehy snr and Tracey Tully, along with his two sisters.
“He was just a great kid, he really was. I loved him. It’s a sad day,” a tearful Mr Moore added.
Hyde Road, Limerick city
Mr Sheehy is knocked down by a black Mitsubishi SUV with UK registration plates which included “WV 52”.
Location near the Gaelic Grounds, Ennis Road, Limerick
Black Mitsubishi SUV discovered and taken into garda custody for a forensic examination