Seamus McCarthy, 79, from Doneraile in north Cork, was at the wheel of the bus on the night of October 20, 2015, and was driving the team home from a game in Waterford IT, when he suffered a sudden cardiac event, as he drove along the main Waterford to Cork road at around 10pm.
The bus veered off the road and crashed into a ditch in Grange, near Ardmore. Luckily, all 28 passengers escaped injury.
But tragically, Mr McCarthy died in Cork University Hospital the following day.
Assistant state pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, said her post mortem examination revealed that Mr McCarthy had extensive and severe heart disease and was at risk of sudden collapse or death at any time.
She said the cause of death in this case was acute cardiac failure due to extensive heart disease.
The jury returned a verdict of death due to natural causes.
Gary Walsh, who was travelling in a van with his cousin, Nicholas Goulding, in the opposite direction to the bus, said they saw it just veer off to its left, and go off the road.
The pair stopped, grabbed torches, and ran to help, forcing open a rear door and helping everyone off the bus.
Team selector, Martin Day, said he knew something was wrong when he saw the bus veer over the hard shoulder yellow line.
“I thought we were pulling in but the bus kept going, and I shouted: ‘we’re heading for the ditch’,” he said.
Team member, Ciara Cashman, who was standing in the aisle about four seats from the back of the bus, said she could feel the bus going over bumps, and then lunging up and over something, and then down. She then heard branches hit the bus before she was flung forward.
Fellow team selector, Barry Day, said he was sitting behind the driver’s seat, and was on the phone, when the incident occurred.
“I knew something was wrong. I saw vegetation going past, and I was going forward into the aisle. I tried to grab a bar on a seat, and the bus was shaking.”
“I ended up sitting in the aisle, and then there was silence. I shouted ‘was everyone OK?’”
He said he saw Mr McCarthy sitting in a slouched position, and got no response from him. But he said he knew within minutes that it was a cardiac event, and the emergency services were alerted.
Mr McCarthy was taken by ambulance to CUH where he died the next day.
A garda inspection of the 01-registered 12-metre long 48-seat bus showed that it had 591,000km on the clock, a defective handbrake and two faulty seatbelts.
It had failed its most recent DOE test, it should not have been on the road, and it’s very lucky that there were no serious injuries as a result of the incident, gardaí said.