A senior detective shot several times at close range in Co Tyrone had been involved in a number of high-profile murder investigations in Co Armagh.
An attempted murder investigation has been launched following the shooting incident in Omagh on Wednesday evening.
It is understood two assailants approached the off-duty detective while he was coaching youngsters at a sports complex before fleeing across the border.
Temporary Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said: “The serving officer was shot a number of times at a sports complex in the Killyclogher Road area of Omagh, just before 8pm on Wednesday.
“He has been taken to hospital and is in a critical but stable condition.
“Our investigation is now underway and I would appeal to anyone who was in the area and witnessed what happened or could help with our enquiries to make contact with police.”
An Garda Siochana said they “are working closely in cooperation with our counterparts in the PSNI”.
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Liam Kelly, the chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, said: “This was a callous, cold-blooded and barbaric attempted murder on an off-duty officer.
“The officer is well known and respected in the area and plays an active role in the community. He is also well known within policing circles and is highly regarded by his colleagues.
“These criminals offer nothing but misery, suffering and heartache. They are bereft of any semblance of humanity. They won’t succeed in their evil mission to create lawlessness and anarchy, and we will do all we can to thwart and frustrate them.”
Sinn Fein deputy leader, Michelle O’Neill, said the attack was “outrageous and shameful”.
“My immediate thoughts are with the officer and his family. I unreservedly condemn this reprehensible attempt to murder a police officer,” she said.
DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “Our heart goes out to the family of this courageous police officer and to his colleagues” also saying “these terrorists have nothing to offer and they must be brought to justice.”