Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Boy of 10 who died dreaming of being a GAA star

Patrick Breen's big ambition was to play for his county

The 10-year-old Tyrone boy who collapsed and died while playing gaelic football dreamt of playing for his county - just like the team's late captain Cormac McAnallen.

Patrick Breen told his teacher of his big ambition on Monday, the day before his death.

Just three years ago GAA star Cormac, who was an All Ireland winner with Tyrone, died suddenly at his home.

Principal at Envagh Primary School Orla Duffy, who had also taught Patrick for the past three years, described the youngster as "the star" of the school's GAA team.

Patrick, from the Dregish townland outside Drumquin, had been training with the recently formed Michael Cusack's Under-13s team on Tuesday night when he collapsed on the pitch.

It emerged that a defibrillator machine, used to try and resuscitate the youngster, had been supplied to the club by a trust set up after Cormac's death.


Drumquin, Omagh, Co Tryone
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Distraught officials at a Tyrone GAA camp last night spoke of their frantic efforts to save the young boy who collapsed and died during a training session.

Emergency treatment was given to little Patrick Breen at the scene and he was taken to Erne Hospital in Enniskillen, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

It is the latest sporting tragedy to hit the county, following the death of captain and former All-Ireland winner Cormac McAnallen three years ago.

Patrick, who was the second youngest in a family of six children, played for Michael Cusacks Under-13 team. He had been taking part in the training session with his team-mates for a match due to take place tonight. That match has been called off as a mark of respect.

According to eyewitnesses, the boy was not involved in any collision but fell to the ground during the session involving two clubs from the area, Drumquin and Dregish.

One of two coaches present attempted CPR before a doctor was called to the scene. It is believed a defibrillator was used on the young boy.

Club secretary Noel Donnelly told of the frantic efforts to save Patrick's life and said his death was a "desperate tragedy".

"The under-13s had been training on Tuesday night at Drumquin and around five minutes from the end of the session, Patrick collapsed to the ground," he said last night.

"The ball wasn't in the vicinity of the area and there's no indication that it was a collision or delayed trauma or anything.

"Once our attention was drawn to him we ran over but there were no vital signs of life. Fortunately, one of the coaches had been trained in first aid and he began to check the airways and looked for the other vital signs before beginning CPR.

"Since the death of Cormac McAnallen all clubs in Tyrone have access to defibrillators. We used that and continued CPR for about 25 minutes or so, until the ambulance arrived.

"There was a second defibrillator at a nearby doctor's surgery and we had access to the doctor's notes.

"I'm told that CPR was continued during the journey to the Erne Hospital in Fermanagh, where attempts were made to revive him, but unfortunately those efforts came to no avail.

"Everything was done that could be done for the wee lad. It's just another desperate tragedy."

Earlier this week a Tyrone GAA club championship match had to be abandoned when county star Paul Quinn suffered a seizure during the game.

The quarter-final tie between Errigal Ciaran and Donaghmore was called off at half-time last Saturday evening when the Errigal centre-half needed emergency treatment after collapsing in the changing rooms.

Mr Quinn was being tended to by medics for breathing difficulties when he began to lose consciousness. Fortunately, the prompt actions of medical staff, including a qualified doctor playing for the Donaghmore team, prevented a potential fatality.

He has since been released from hospital, and earlier this week praised the actions of medical officials at the game.

"Donaghmore's Seamus Mulgrew, Damian McCartan, the Order of Malta and everyone else were all so good," he said. "It's a physical sport and things like this happen. They are all part of the game.

"Sometimes the physical nature can be underestimated, but that's why so many people go to see games. It's a contact sport and people want to see a good, hard game of football.

"I remember taking a knock during the game and by half-time I was struggling. The physio Michael Harte was trying to calm me and my chest was tight.

"They got oxygen on me and I don't really remember much. One minute I was sitting there, feeling a bit sick and panicked, the next minute I was on a bed in the changing rooms."

It is not the first tragedy to affect the GAA fraternity in Tyrone. Three years ago the county was rocked by the death of its inspirational captain Cormac McAnallen (24), who died in his sleep from a heart condition.

In 1997, Tyrone Minor star Paul McGirr died after being injured playing for his county in an Ulster Minor Championship against Armagh. He was 18.

The latest death comes a week after Republic of Ireland international Clive Clarke collapsed of a suspected heart attack while playing for Leicester City during a Carling Cup match against Nottingham Forest in England.

Irish star Clarke (27), took ill during the interval of the match last Tuesday evening, before being taken to a nearby hospital. The game was abandoned and will take place early next week.

According to the player's agent Gary Mellor, a defibrillator was used in the dressing-room.

He had regained consciousness by the time he was taken to nearby Queens Medical Centre.

World football is also mourning following the death of Spanish international Antonio Puerta, who suffered a heart attack while playing for Sevilla 10 days ago. The 22-year-old collapsed as he ran back towards his own goal during a match on August 25.

According to experts, "Sudden Death Syndrome" is the term used to describe unexpected and unexplained death in apparently healthy young people.

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