When the news filtered through that 13-year-old Oisin McGrath's condition appeared hopeless, the tight-knit community of Belcoo in Co Fermanagh was plunged into even greater shock and sadness.
The nightmare had begun earlier in the week when Oisin's playground injury sparked deep concern among the pupils and teachers of St Michael's College in Enniskillen - an all-boys grammar school.
As parents waited outside the school to collect their sons yesterday afternoon, they spoke of their shock that young Oisin was fighting for life in hospital.
Hundreds of pupils were spilling through the grammar school gates yesterday but the usual hustle and bustle of finishing another school day was replaced with a palpably sombre mood.
One parent, Patricia Glynn from Derrygonnelly, said: "No one can believe something like this has happened.
"My son is just a first year pupil and he's quite shocked about it.
"I only found out through him when he came home from school yesterday."
An Enniskillen mother, whose son was in the same second year class as Oisin, said her thoughts go out to both families affected by the tragedy, including the family of the 17-year-old boy who was arrested for an alleged assault and later released.
The mother, who does not want to be named, said: "It is a big shock for everyone. When you send your kids to school you think they are safe, you don't expect this to happen.
"You think when you send them to school they should come home the same way the go out. I thought it was a safe place.
"My son is friendly with Oisin and he's been very quiet about it and asking me questions," she said.
Parent teacher meetings for Oisin's year were also cancelled yesterday as the school and the community rallied behind his family to offer their support.
One Enniskillen mother said: "It's a shocking incident. You just feel very sorry for Oisin and his family. My son, who is in Oisin's year, has been OK but he finds it hard to believe how it escalated so quickly.
"It's really sad and my heart goes out to the parents of both boys.
"It's been all over social networking sites; it's very sad," she added. "At the end of the day kids will be kids and these things happen but I may think differently if it was my son. I've said prayers for both families."
Hundreds of people gathered for a Mass and vigil for Oisin in his home village of Belcoo last night.
The Mass had to be moved to a bigger church after so many people came to a previous vigil the night before.
Parish priest Father Seamus Quinn, who had come from Oisin's bedside, said he could offer little hope to those who were praying the teenager would survive.