Family asks public to pray for father-of-four hurling manager critically ill in hospital
"We can't thank the GAA community enough"
The family of a former Down senior hurler critically ill in hospital have asked for prayers as they maintain a "heartbreaking" vigil at his bedside.
Father-of-four Johnny 'Boon' McGrattan, currently Ballygalget hurling manager, was taken to intensive care at the Royal Victoria Hospital on Monday after a fall at his home.
The accident came a day after he coached his team at the Down senior hurling championship final, where they lost to Ballycran.
The 38-year-old won a National League Division Two and an Ulster medal with his county and is a two-time Ulster medallist with Ballygalget.
Mr McGrattan's uncle, Gearoid McGrattan - also a former hurler for Down seniors - said the family had been overwhelmed by messages of support.
"The GAA community have been very supportive - big time," he added.
"We couldn't thank them enough. I would also like to say to the public that we are all so pleased with everyone's prayers. It's been a huge thing for us to handle, and we appreciate this so much. We are overwhelmed with the affection."
Mr McGrattan said his nephew's wife, Louise, and the extended family remained by the hurler's bedside. He added there were encouraging signs but that the situation remained tough.
"We are all hoping and we are all with him," Mr McGrattan said. "We're not going anywhere. It is heartbreaking.
He also told how the father-of-four, who has also won nine county club championship medals and previously played soccer for Portaferry, was a source of great pride to his family.
"He is a great chap," he said. "This is his first season as manager and he got them to the final. They asked him to step up and he's been training hard. He was made one of the club all-stars last year. He's made us proud."
The worried relative also thanked people for their warm wishes and said: "People have been very good with their prayers, and we want people to keep praying 100%."
On her Facebook page, wife Louise added: "Just want to say a massive thank you to everyone for all your support and prayers - means so much to myself and all of Johnny's family. Please keep the prayers coming, they seem to be working so far."
The Ballygalget GAC Facebook page has also urged people to "pray for Johnny" and has been flooded with good wishes.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with senior manager Johnny McGrattan who is in hospital," a post by the club read.
Well-wisher Fionnuala Torney posted in response: "Prayers and thoughts for Johnny and his family. Strong man, speedy recovery x"
And Marina McCorriston wrote: "It is clear that Johnny is loved and respected by so many people. May all our prayers and good wishes give Johnny the strength to make a full recovery."