Kevin McCloy: Hospital staff praised for rapid response
As former Derry captain Kevin McCloy remained in a stable condition in hospital after his collapse during a senior club Championship game on Wednesday night, the medical professionals who treated him have come in for praise.
Eye-witnesses at the game told of how the Lavey captain, an All-Star in 2007, was taking a free with no opponent in the vicinity when he keeled over. It is believed he lost his pulse for a few minutes before being revived by a defibrillator, before being brought to Altnagelvin Hospital.
The policy of having an ambulance in attendance at all Derry Championship games was recognised by Lavey manager John Brennan.
"I am only speaking on behalf of myself and my colleagues in the management, and we are distraught and upset," Brennan, who had a spell in charge of Derry between 2011 and 2013, said.
"We are hoping Kevin has a full and speedy recovery. We were rendered hopeless.
"Only for the medical personnel being there, they saved his life. Our thoughts are with Kevin and his wife and two children."
Bridget McAnallen, mother of former Tyrone captain, the late Cormac, has been a leading figure in highlighting the need for defibrillators at sporting events.
Their loss of Cormac, through his death related to Sudden Cardiac Death, led them to form The Cormac Trust, which marked 10 years in operation last January and through popularising defibrillators, has saved lives in Ulster.
"I applaud Derry's attitude to looking after players," Mrs McAnallen told The Belfast Telegraph.
"The fact that they had a defibrillator, and that they were available and they were able to use them, they could restart his heart.
"Although I know very little about the actual incident, it appears it was needed. They wouldn't have administered the shock if his heart did not need it."
There is no doubt that without the pioneering work of the McAnallen family, such provision for defibrillators would not be as widespread. At Owenbeg, Derry's Centre of Excellence where Wednesday night's game was staged, there are three defibrillators.
"This has come about because there were other people who collapsed and they began to realise there was a problem," continued Mrs McAnallen.
"But we did what we could at the time and over the past number of years in raising awareness about heart conditions and the defibrillator is a good idea.
"The public and the media have really taken that cause up. They have responded. There is a huge demand for defibrillators and has been for the past number of years. Society, and the GAA, have come a long way in this regard."
Instances of these occurrences have unfortunately become common in UIster GAA. Down referee Gabriel Tumelty was resuscitated in August 2011 by a defibrillator after he collapsed while taking charge of a game played in Pairc Esler.
The same month, Peter Boyle, a member of Brookeboro GAC in Fermanagh, was doing umpire on a Wednesday evening when his heart stopped at the final whistle of a game. A defibrillator was on the premises and those present revived Boyle, who later made a full recovery.
A statement released yesterday by the Derry County Board Chairman John Keenan read: "The thoughts of Derry GAA, its clubs and players are with Kevin McCloy, his family and 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 to Kevin. In particular, I wish to commend the efforts of the doctors and paramedics at the ground, and the swift response of the paramedics from Altnagelvin Hospital."
A number of figures from the world of Ulster football also expressed their wishes on Twitter, such as former Armagh forward Steven McDonnell, who tweeted:
"Tonight highlights the importance of all sports facilities having access to a defibrillator after the collapse of Kevin McCloy."