Thursday 22 March 2018

Open heart surgery left me feeling like I was hit by a bus – Ken McGrath

Ken McGrath with his wife Dawn at the launch of The Ken McGrath Rehabilitation Fund
Ken McGrath with his wife Dawn at the launch of The Ken McGrath Rehabilitation Fund

Jackie Cahill

Waterford hurling legend Ken McGrath has revealed how the aftermath of open heart surgery left him feeling like he had been "hit by a bus."

The ex-Deise star, winner of four Munster titles and three All Star awards, went under the knife at Dublin's Beacon Hospital in April.

McGrath (36) suffered a brain haemorrhage last December and extensive tests at Ardkeen Hospital revealed an abnormal valve and infection in his heart.

McGrath underwent an eight-hour procedure and revealed how his brother Eoin was shocked when he came to visit in hospital.

McGrath said: "For the first two days (post-operation), I can't remember a thing. Lads that got the operation done before me told me that when you wake up, you feel like you've been hit by a bus – that's the only way you can describe it.


"It was unreal for a few days. Eoin came up with the father and got some fright when he saw me. I was white as a ghost and had lost a lot of weight. But I knew that I was in safe hands. It was a job that had to be done and I knew it would improve my quality of life in the long run."

On June 27, the Ken McGrath All Star challenge will take place at Walsh Park, with a host of former stars playing in a benefit match to raise funds for a lengthy and costly rehabilitation process.

Team managers Davy Fitzgerald and Brian Cody will send Munster and Leinster selections into battle.

McGrath is thankful for all of the support and – by coincidence – the date of the match will mark the 10th anniversary of the classic 2004 Munster final against Cork, when 14-man Waterford dug out a win.

McGrath smiled: "That game was the best game I ever played in. Cork were in their prime and we were in our prime as well. It's unbelievable to look back – the 10 years fly!"

McGrath was well enough to attend the drawn Munster quarter-final between the counties last Sunday week, and confirmed he'll return to Thurles for the replay.

And he has called on Waterford supporters to flock to Semple Stadium in greater numbers – insisting the Deise fan base was "poor" for the May 25 stalemate.

"Hopefully they'll get behind the team now," he said. "Every team has fickle supporters at times. But in one game, the notion about this team has changed."

McGrath was delighted to see Waterford throw the shackles off following relegation from Division 1A of the league.

"I thought the performance was more important than the result," he said. "They needed to perform, express themselves and play some decent hurling. They did that and at nine points up, we were delighted. We ran out of a bit of steam but the confidence from that will be huge."

McGrath will soon embark on a seven-week rehabilitation programme. "For the first week I could walk five minutes and was wrecked," he said. "Now I'm walking 30-40 minutes after seven weeks."


* The Ken McGrath All Star challenge takes place on June 27 at Walsh Park. Admission: €10 (U-16s free of charge). Donations can also be made at any Permanent TSB – account number 23053903, sort code: 99 06 32.

Irish Independent

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