Family and friends of missing sportswoman Karen Coyles were steeling themselves for the worst as search teams continue to comb the coastline close to where she was last seen.
The 47-year-old disappeared from her hometown of Ballycastle on Sunday evening.
The search for the champion camogie player has been narrowed down to a rocky stretch of coast after a specialist police sniffer dog traced her final movements to the cliff top above.
Family friend Seamus Blaney, who said Ms Coyles' father Rab was "devastated", admitted hope was fading. He added: "The community is coming to the reckoning that she's gone. But nobody can believe that this has happened, and why."
Independent councillor Mr Blaney claimed the popular member of McQuillan's GAA club was a credit to her community. He said: "She was one of the best, outgoing girls you would have met, she always had a smile on her face. She was so into her sport, she was forever finding one gimmick or another to raise funds for the camogie club."
Unmarried Ms Coyles captained the winning team in the all-Ireland camogie Sevens tournament in Dublin on Sunday and the alarm was raised when she failed to turn up for work at the research institute at the University of Ulster's Coleraine campus on Monday.
Her car, a silver Volkswagen Golf, was found at the McQuillan's club.
Hundreds of local people initially joined in the search for Ms Coyles but they were stood down on Wednesday as the operation focused on the dangerous coastal area.
Sean Fitzpatrick, police commander for the area, appealed for information about her last movements.
He said: "Police are still investigating Karen's disappearance as a missing person inquiry and will continue to search for her with all partner agencies. We would appeal for members of the public with any information in relation to Karen's movements from Sunday night until Monday morning to contact us."