GAA player saved by other players and defibrillator after on-field heart attack

An Athlone GAA player owes his life to the quick action of medics and fellow players when he suffered a suspected heart attack in Cusack Park yesterday.

Cathal Joyce collapsed on the pitch while warming up with his teammates for an intermediate football match against Rosemount.

"One of our players dropped suffering from a heart attack,” Athlone player Ray Connellan told

Connellan said that Rosemount footballer Patrick Boland ran to assist the stricken player.

“He stopped his warm up and ran over and performed CPR to keep him alive, until a defibrillator was provided by the paramedics who were called."

"Absolutely incredible stuff and deserves more recognition than we can give.”

Joyce was then transferred to hospital by ambulance for further treatment.

Working with Boland to keep Joyce alive was Order of Malta volunteer Dónal Mac Cába, whose actions were described by a colleague online last night.

“CPR was started by Dónal followed by delivering shocks to the patient with the help of an off duty doctor. The patient came round before the ambulance arrived.

“(The) A&E nurse that I was talking to wanted me to praise Dónal for the quick thinking and action otherwise we would be looking at a different situation today.”

There has been an outpouring of praise for everyone who provided assistance at Cusack Park yesterday, where a combination of decisive action and the presence of a defibrillator prevented what could have been a tragic outcome.

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