There were dramatic scenes at last weekend’s Westmeath IFC semi-final in Cusack Park, when Athlone substitute Cathal Joyce collapsed on the pitch and went into cardiac arrest.
Joyce was doing the warm-up with the team and reported feeling unwell. His brother James, also the team physio, went over to check on him, but Cathal collapsed to the horror of onlookers.
The young Westmeath GAA player has some sterling work from volunteers to thank for saving his life. One of his opponents, Rosemount’s Patrick Boland, who is also a doctor, rushed to Joyce’s aid when he saw him in trouble, immediately administering CPR.
He was quickly joined by Donal Mac Caba, an offduty Emergency First Responder, as well as Milltown physios Stacey Egan and Gerry Summers. Shocks from a defibrillator were administered before the patient came around and the ambulance arrived. Joyce was then taken to hospital.
Athlone PRO Brian Melinn confirmed the incident was a very serious one and expressed his gratitude to all who helped save Joyce’s life: “Thank God there were great people around to help him, Melinn said. “Stacey Egan and Jerry Summers, the two physios for Milltown, were absolutely brilliant. Dr Patrick Boland, who was on the opposing team, was invaluable. One of our own players, Colm O’Leary, is a guard so he also knew how to administer aid. They brought him around.
“It was very scary for a while. Cathal is a young and fit man who trains regularly. It was just a shocking incident but thankfully one that ended well. There’s a good chance he would not have survived but for the quick thinking and swift action of all involved, or even if the incident had happened while he was at home or in bed.”
On his personal Twitter page, James Joyce admitted that it’s a “miracle” that his brother is still alive. The incident has conveyed the importance of having life-saving equipment on hand in the event of such an emergency.