A YOUNG man ended up in hospital with serious head injuries after rushing to defend his elderly mother against intruders.
Gareth Thornton was viciously beaten over the head by one of the assailants, both of whom he had just chased out of his home.
Doctors have told the brave 27-year-old from Drogheda, Co Louth, that he was lucky to be alive.
Have-a-go-hero Gareth suffered a double fracture of his skull in the attack.
The drama unfolded at lunchtime when Gareth was on his way back to his house on Halpin's Terrace.
"His friend across the road shouted over to ask him if he was expecting visitors. Gareth said he wasn't and ran into the house and the two thugs jumped out the back window," his dad Hughie Thornton said.
He dashed into the house because he thought his mother was inside.
By chance, the 67-year-old had earlier left to go for a cycle ride so she was not home when the burglars broke in.
Hughie said today: "They could have killed him. He was hit with a bar on the back of the head. Gardai think it was a bar he (the burglar) had up his sleeve. He fractured his skull in two places."
The surgeon who treated Gareth at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda has advised him to take it easy and not do anything strenuous.
"He looks fit enough but that is when you get a shock. He's not to drink either, he's not allowed do anything," Hughie (63) said.
While he is recovering well, Gareth still gets headaches from time to time.
The incident happened at around 2pm on August 16.
A garda spokesman said no charges have been brought in relation to the incident.
Officers are looking for two men in their early 20s in connection with the burglary. Both are of slim build, while one of the men had black hair and was wearing a blue checked shirt. The other had red hair and was also wearing a checked shirt.