Former Kerry star Seamus Scanlon has thanked former Cork footballing adversary James Masters and his Garda colleagues for coming to his pregnant wife’s rescue last week.
Oonagh Scanlon was in labour with baby daughter, Evie, as the former Kerry midfielder drove them with haste from their Currow home to Cork University Maternity Hospital.
But for the escort provided by ex-Cork forward Masters and An Garda Síochána, Scanlon would likely have had to deliver the baby himself on the roadside.
He explained: “We were on the road at about five o’clock the morning of last Wednesday week. I know there were roadworks in Ballyvourney and Macroom. The way Oonagh was in pain, I knew it was going to be touch and go.
“It was a brutal morning weather-wise as well so I decided to ring 999 when we were going through Killarney. They sorted out the guards from Macroom and they were waiting for me just outside the town.
“They escorted us then to Crookstown Garda Station where James Masters works and they took me all the way into the city to the hospital. We only barely made it because a few minutes after arriving Oonagh had the baby.
I was stressing a bit coming into Ballyvourney because I was waiting for a call back after ringing 999 but then they told me the guards were ready for us and that was such a relief.
Scanlon and Masters crossed swords in the 2007, ’08, and ’09 championships, Masters claiming two of his three Munster medals in that period with wins over Kerry — although Scanlon was in midfield when the Kingdom beat Cork in Croke Park in the 2008 All-Ireland semi-final replay and ’09 final.
Last week was not the time for the pair to reminisce about their inter-county playing days but they did get a chance to catch up.
“I couldn’t thank them enough,” says 38-year-old Scanlon.
“I dropped in a couple of boxes of chocolates to the Garda stations the following day just to acknowledge what they did. I had a chat with James and he was asking about the family. James is a fierce nice fella.
A Cork man helping out a Kerryman… you have to laugh.
"James and his colleagues were a blessing. Everything worked out perfectly thanks to the guards.”
Masters downplayed his role in the drama.
“I came on duty and turned on the radio; the first message I heard was that a man was on his way from Kerry with his wife in labour. I didn’t get the area that they were coming from but then 10 or 15 minutes later there was an update that they were coming close to Macroom.
“My colleague, Ann Marie Kelleher from Macroom station, was providing them with an escort and then I took over on the final run in towards the hospital.
We were very fortunate at that time that there were not too many cars on the road and very few roadworks.
“I have a child so and I knew where to go in the hospital complex.”
Masters didn’t know the identity of the car’s occupants until they arrived at CUH.
“We pulled in just alongside the small roundabout in front of the Maternity section of the hospital. I hopped out of the car to see if they needed any assistance in getting in.
“Just as I ran back Seamus hopped out or his car and shook my hand straight away. I knew him of course from our playing days but it wasn’t the time or the place to be talking football!
“I am delighted it all worked out well from them and was delighted to have played a small part.”
Scanlon is currently on paternity leave from Bathrooms 4U as Evie gets acquainted with her new home and three-and-a-half-year-old Jake gets used to having a baby sister.