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Just a fortnight after he nearly died at hurling match, Paddy Watson is fit for daughter's wedding

By Declan Bogue

Published 26/09/2015

Loughgiel man Paddy Watson
Loughgiel man Paddy Watson
Brenda Watson gets a peck from dad Paddy and brother Liam

Less than two weeks after he received the last rites beside a hurling field, Loughgiel man Paddy Watson is preparing this morning for his daughter's wedding.

Paddy, father of 2010 All-Star nominee hurler Liam Watson, will walk his youngest girl Brenda up the aisle to marry Martin Dobbin, another hurler from local rivals St Brigid's, Cloughmills.

"I was at the doctor on Wednesday and he is happy enough with the wedding going ahead," Paddy told The Belfast Telegraph.

"He asked me about my speech and if I was preparing to do a speech, was there anything in it that might have me panicking and taking another heart attack.

"But no, I was happy enough with it. I am going to get it done without too much strain, hoping to say a 'wean' of words, just to thank everybody for coming and the family."

That Paddy is alive and well to enjoy today is a tribute to the quick-thinking and expertise of a number of people present at the Loughgiel and Cushendall Antrim semi-final in Dunloy almost a fortnight ago.

After feeling weak at the start of the second half, Paddy suffered the coronary and was saved by medics at the ground using the Dunloy club's defibrillator.

"The game was just on a couple of minutes when I heard someone shout: 'Get the defibrillator'," recalled Liam, who was on the pitch at the time.

"The referee said to all the players to get off the field, and that's when I went to my manager and asked him who it was. He didn't know at the time. Niall Gillen, one of our selectors, told me."

He added: "We had a neighbour, Briege Connolly, who started to see the signs he was starting to take a heart attack.

"She is a next door neighbour, but she seen the colour he was going and raised the alarm."

Three Cushendall people saved him - Mrs Carson and Mrs Burke, who are mothers of players Conor and Martin respectively, and the Cushendall club doctor Eddie McCormack.

Geraldine McIhatton, a nurse from Loughgiel who works in the Antrim Area Hospital, operated the defibrillator.

Liam stressed the need for defibrillators at every sporting event after witnessing how it saved his father.

"I think it should be necessary that they would be at every ground. They can and have saved people's lives," he said.

"There were seven priests there and a bishop at the match. It was one of them that read him his last rites, a Loughgiel priest anointed him, Father Butler.

"For the amount of people that attend championship matches, there is no reason why every club should not have a defibrillator. If every household put in a fiver or a tenner, it would cover it."

Paddy was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital, and after having a stent inserted, woke up in the ward beside Hugh McManus, father of Antrim and Cushendall player Neil, who had also suffered a heart attack the day before. Liam joked: "Neil and his father were there, there were hurling balls and sticks flying everywhere, we were taking the rivalry out on the ward!"

A bricklayer by trade, Paddy is now on an extended recuperation, being looked after by his wife Bridget."He's getting a wee bit spoilt, but we have to make sure he is not too spoiled," said Liam.

Today he, Bridget and Liam will join other daughters Claire and Leona as they celebrate Brenda's wedding in the Tullyglass House Hotel.

"Daddy's in good form and we just can't believe that he is here today and we are all looking forward to tomorrow. We just hope it is a good day and we get the weather," Brenda told the Belfast Telegraph.

She added that the day will be tinged with poignancy. "Oh, it will. It definitely will. We are just hoping everything is right and everyone will enjoy themselves, gets up and dances away, and the speeches are good."

As for the father of the bride, he has been counting his blessings in recent days.

He recalled how bad things were by the sideline that day in Dunloy. "Well, according to the priest that attended to me on the field, they were saying after that they thought I was a goner. I am glad to be here today and I thank God to be able to be here for her. It's our last wedding, because the other three are married."

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