Belfast Telegraph

Bedside vigil for Newry GAA teenager who collapsed at game

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

There was nothing to indicate there was anything wrong with a young GAA player who suffered a suspected stroke during a match at the weekend, his club chairman has said.

Gareth McMillan from Newry was last night in a stable condition in intensive care, where his family remained by his side.

Gareth was playing in the Down Minor B championship against Kilcoo on Saturday when he became unwell minutes into the match at around 3.10pm.

The popular St Colman's College student was being brought off for a substitution when he began clutching his right side and collapsed.

It is believed that Gareth, who plays for Ballyholland Harps GAC, suffered a suspected stroke when a blood vessel burst, causing bleeding on his brain.

He was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry and placed in a medically induced coma.

The 15-year-old was later transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he remained in intensive care last night.

Ballyholland chairman Kevin Loughran said that nobody suspected Gareth was unwell from the outset.

"Gareth is normally one of those players who is a very tight marker, and the first two balls that came in on his side he was 15-20 yards behind each man and we were wondering what was wrong," he said. "Nobody suspected he was taking unwell, but after 10 minutes we realised something was wrong and they made a substitution, not on health issues we just put it down to nerves or something on the day."

He continued: "As he was coming off he was holding his right hand side, his arm had dropped and he was slightly trailing his right leg, then he just made the side-lines when he collapsed.

"He was semi-conscious but he couldn't speak to us or respond to anything that the paramedic was asking him to do."

Mr Loughran said they were lucky to have a paramedic and nurse in the vicinity. Gareth was then rushed to hospital.

Last night, the Ballyholland Harps GAC Facebook page issued an update on Gareth. "He's now awake and mum and dad are delighted with the progress he's made today."

Friends and wellwishers took to Twitter sending get well wishes.

"Thank the Lord that Gareth McMillan is recovering! It's just awful what happened!", said one. "Pray for Gareth," wrote another.

QUOTES

"Gareth is a very, very popular lad who is without a doubt a valued player. I've been speaking to his parents every evening and at the moment it's very positive that he has begun to have movement back in both legs and arms. He's responding to the grip of his parents' hands but he's still in an induced coma. The doctor has informed them not to get too far ahead of themselves as it will be a slow process as well, but they are positive."

Kevin Loughran, chairman of Ballyholland Harps GAC

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