Belfast Telegraph

Family's bedside vigil for GAA star who collapsed during club game

By Donna Deeney

The family of Kevin McCloy have been keeping a bedside vigil at Altnagelvin Hospital's intensive care unit where the Derry GAA footballer remains critical.

Kevin (35) collapsed whilst captaining Lavey Gaelic Athletic Club (GAC) in a championship match against Magherafelt at Owenbeg on Wednesday night.

Spectators held their breath in disbelief as medics rushed to the fullback's side to administer first aid, moments after he fell to the ground. It's believed no pulse was detected for a few minutes, before a defibrillator revived him.

The worried crowd later rose to its feet and applauded as the ambulance crew lifted Kevin into the vehicle and rushed him to Altnagelvin. The match was immediately abandoned.

Friend and former Derry team-mate Joe Brolly said it was "a very serious situation". "He's definitely had a heart attack during a club match," he said.

Among those who witnessed the emergency unfold was Seamus Mullan who watched in shock as Kevin lay motionless on the ground. He said the defibrillator undoubtedly gave the player the best possible chance of survival.

Kevin's wife and wider family circle yesterday paid tribute to the emergency services and those who administered first aid at the pitch, and thanked the GAA fraternity for their prayers.

"As soon as I saw Kevin fall to the ground I realised the situation was serious but within moments the medics with the defibrillator were at his side," said Mr Mullan.

"A doctor or maybe even two doctors who were at the match ran to help as well.

"There is an ambulance at every Championship match as a matter of course but an ambulance was called for too.

"People just watched in disbelief, almost afraid to breathe during the time the medics were administering first aid. This would have been a short while but every second seemed like an hour there was so much anxiety amongst everyone watching.

"I have to say the crowd were superb and when they were asked not to leave the ground until the ambulance was cleared they did and, to a man, they rose to their feet and applauded as the ambulance made its way to the hospital.

"It was extremely emotional and I, like everyone else connected with the GAA community, wish a good recovery for Kevin."

Mr McCloy is a much respected former Derry captain and is recognised as among the best players ever to have come out of the county. Derry GAA chairman John Keenan said: "The thoughts of Derry GAA, its clubs and players are with Kevin McCloy, his family and all at Lavey GAA.

"We would like to praise the players, match officials and stewards, and the medical teams of both clubs at Owenbeg for their swift actions in attending Kevin.

"In particular, I wish to commend the efforts of the doctors and paramedics present at the ground, and the swift response of the paramedics from Altnagelvin Hospital."

Background

"On behalf of the club officers, management, players and supporters of Lavey GAA, we would like to express our best wishes to our senior football club captain, Kevin McCloy, his wife and family.

"They are all in our thoughts and prayers at this time."

A spokesman for Lavey GAA, where Kevin McCloy is club captain

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