GAA match abandoned after dad of player collapses pitch-side
A key club hurling match was dramatically called off yesterday after the father of one of Ireland's best-known players suddenly took ill while watching his son in action.
Paddy Watson was in the Dunloy hurling ground for the County Antrim club semi-final match between Cushendall and his son Liam Watson's Loughgiel Shamrocks team.
However, just moments into the second half, the game was stopped and then abandoned after it emerged Paddy Watson was seriously ill.
Mr Watson was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and last night Loughgiel officials said he had undergone surgery and was understood to be in a stable condition.
After being told it was his father who had fallen ill, an emotional Liam Watson ran to be at his father's side and he left the ground still wearing his hurling kit.
Paddy Watson, who played hurling himself for several years for the Armoy club, is believed to be in his 50s and it is understood he was watching the match with his wife and family members.
Loughgiel manager PJ O'Mullan jnr said last night: "The match was abandoned 15 seconds into the second half. Paddy is in the Royal and he had surgery and I think he is stable. We all hope he makes a speedy recovery.
"We didn't know who it was at first and then word came to me. People started shouting for a defibrillator and then somebody told me who it was and we gathered the players in and I took Liam to the side and said, 'I think you better come back here, it's your father'.
"We took him straight across the field and left him there and went back inside out of the road. It kind of puts a hurling match into perspective. Liam was very shaken up."
One spectator said: "It was a big shock. The fact the man who took ill was the parent of a player meant calling the game off was the right thing to do.
"There was a doctor there, Dr John McSparran from the Glens Medical Centre, the former county chairman, and members of the Red Bay lifeboat with experience in first aid went over as well." Antrim county board PRO Sean Fleming said: "This was a situation in which humanity took over from sport."
The match has been provisionally re-arranged for Dunloy next Sunday at 1pm.