'My heart could have stopped there and then'
Former Meath captain Shane McAnarney has revealed the extent of the serious cardiac condition that has forced him out of Gaelic football for good.
McAnarney, who is recovering from a double bypass operation he underwent eight weeks ago, was told that his heart could have stopped at any time due to the exertions involved in being an elite sportsman.
Damage to the wall of one of his blocked arteries appeared to confirm that the 2012 Leinster final captain had even suffered a mild heart attack at some stage, which went undetected.
"The one (artery) that was blocked completely, there is damaged tissue around the wall, so I did have a slight heart attack at some stage that I didn't realise or know about," he said.
McAnarney underwent surgery after two blocked arteries were discovered last July, following routine cardiac screening of the Meath squad in April.
He admitted he was lucky that such a programme was in place for him to avail of and has implored other players to take up the opportunity.
He also paid tribute to the Gaelic Players Association, which has met the €30,000 cost of his surgery and consultation and provided great support throughout the ordeal.
McAnarney (33) said he had had no obvious symptoms prior to an echocardiogram that revealed irregularities and prompted further testing.
"When the surgeon told me that, back in May, I didn't want to hear him because, as far as I was concerned, he had turned my life upside down by telling me I couldn't play football," said McAnarney.
"But I know I'm lucky and blessed to get this chance, a second chance to live a full life.
"I was lucky. I remember chasing lads at training up the Hill of Tara not so long ago, before all this happened, really pushing it trying to catch them. Anything could have happened. I could have keeled over. My heart could have stopped working there and then."