Ulster centre Nevin Spence has been killed alongside his brother and their father in a farming tragedy which also injured their sister in Northern Ireland.
The 22-year-old rose to prominence playing for Ulster Rugby and was a rising star in Ireland's international rugby scene but died on Saturday after falling into a slurry tank.
Emergency crews went to the family farm in Drumlough Road outside Hillsborough, Co Down, shortly after 6pm on Saturday following reports that four people had fallen into the slurry pit. Following a lengthy rescue operation it was confirmed that three men had died and a woman was taken to hospital for treatment for the inhalation of fumes.
Nevin Spence was a member of the Ulster Rugby squad that reached the European Heineken cup final last season, and he was predicted to have a glittering international career ahead of him.
Rugby players and other sporting stars paid tribute to the young player on social media as news emerged of his involvement in the tragedy. Spence's Ulster team-mate, fly-half Ian Humphreys, wrote: "Devastated to hear the news about Nevin Spence and his brother and dad. Prayers with all his family... RIP Nev, you'll never be forgotten..."
Rory McIlroy, golf's world number one, wrote on his Twitter account: "Just heard the tragic news of Nevin Spence and his family. Makes you cherish every day you have on this Earth."
Former Wales winger Shane Williams was also among those to pay their respects on the social media site, writing: "My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Nevin Spence. A tragic loss. A class act on the field also. RIP."
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said it responded to a 999 call at about 6.15pm following reports that at least three people had fallen into a slurry tank. It said it immediately sent three rapid response paramedics, four accident and emergency vehicles and an ambulance service doctor to the scene.
A spokesman for the ambulance service said: "Three were unconscious and NIAS paramedics commenced resuscitation efforts immediately assisted by other ambulance personnel.
"One of the four showed initial signs of responding to the efforts of the crews and was transported immediately to the nearby Lagan Valley Hospital, where unfortunately he died a short time later. Despite the best efforts of all involved the other two men died at the scene."