GAA legend Anthony Tohill has eye and face surgery after horror chainsaw accident at his home
The family of Gaelic football hero Anthony Tohill say he is "comfortable" following a freak chainsaw accident which resulted in horrific facial injuries.
They confirmed that Mr Tohill was cutting firewood at his home on Monday when he suffered the injuries.
In a statement issued through their solicitors, the Tohill family said: "Anthony underwent eye and facial surgery on Monday night and is now at home.
"He is comfortable and has made a positive start to his recovery. The Tohill family are very grateful to the Ambulance Service and the wonderful staff of Causeway and Altnagelvin hospitals who looked after Anthony during his time under their care.
"The family have been greatly comforted by the many messages of support that Anthony has received and would like to thank everyone for their kindness."
It is understood that Mr Tohill was in the the garden of his new home in Swatragh when the accident happened.
Unconfirmed reports suggested that the chainsaw may have bounced back and hit him in the face, shredding the area around his eye.
The 41-year-old was rushed to hospital and his face – one of the most recognisable on the GAA circuit – was said to have been left badly damaged as a result of the accident.
It is thought surgeons were able to save Mr Tohill's eye but it is understood a lot of reconstruction surgery may now be needed.
Mr Tohill is a four-time GAA All Star and was a member of the senior Derry team which won the All-Ireland back in 1993.
One former colleague heaped praise on the "Swatragh juggernaut", while fans from both near and far expressed their best wishes.
Off the pitch, Mr Tohill is known throughout Ireland as a TV sports pundit, with regular spots in the studios of RTE.
As strategic director with Derry City Council, he is also a senior member of the team at the helm of the UK City of Culture events.
A fortnight ago he helped to host the GAA annual congress when it was staged in Derry for the first time as part of the 2013 programme.
Local sources said on Friday that Mr Tohill had been living in Derry city for some time but had very recently built a new home on the outskirts of his native Swatragh in the south of the county.
His friend and fellow Derry GAA All Star Joe Brolly gave the first confirmed update on how Mr Tohill was doing.
Talking on Twitter, Mr Brolly said: "Big Anthony comfortable. Badly cut face but eye ok and typical of him, feeling upbeat. Tough for him to get used to but v strong mentally".
Mr Brolly added an iconic image of Mr Tohill in action on the pitch later yesterday afternoon, with the message: "Take more than a chainsaw to stop Big Anthony. The Swatragh juggernaut at full steam ahead..."
Sinn Fein's Ian Milne, a Magherafelt councillor for the Swatragh area, said: "It is so terrible to hear something like this happening.
"Mr Tohill is held in such high regard on and off the field.
"He is very well-respected throughout the county and country.
"We all wish him a speedy recovery and I would also ask people to be very conscious of the fact that chainsaws are very dangerous machines."
GAA colleagues from across the county said they wanted to respect the Tohill family's wish for privacy at this time.
Cork GAA star Eoin Cadogan was among the players to send him best wishes via Twitter last night.
He said: "Wishing Anthony Tohill a speedy recovery after his accident. Having played under him a great coach and all-round nice guy."
Anthony Tohill is widely regarded as one of the GAA's greatest players. As well as being a key member of Derry's 1993 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship-winning side, he also won two Ulster Championships and four National League titles with the county.
He was awarded four All Star awards during a playing career that lasted from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.
Mr Tohill represented Ireland in four International Rules series. He captained the victorious 2001 team and was manager of the team in 2010-11.