'The water was pretty high and rough' - Galway GAA star Finian Hanley and two gardaí involved in dramatic river rescue
Galway footballer Finian Hanley has hailed a garda who jumped into the river Corrib to save a man who had fallen into the ice cold waters.
Two gardaí on patrol witnessed a man leaning backwards and falling into the water close to the Spanish Arch in Galway at around 4.30 on St Patrick's Day, not long after Ireland had secured a Grand Slam triumph with victory over England at Twickenham.
The male garda entered the water to try and prevent the man from being pulled away by the strong current while his female colleague threw a life buoy to the pair.
Hanley was out walking with his wife Pauline and daughter Freya when they witnessed the bravery of the gardaí and the 33-year-old immediately ran to their aid.
He told the Connacht Tribune: "“We saw the two Gardaí running towards the water. It looked quite frantic so I ran to help. The water was pretty high and rough and they were stuck against the wall. It was difficult enough to hold on, so we needed to get them out quickly,” recalled Finian.
“We just kind of yanked them out. They were probably in the water for five minutes. He [the Garda] was brave, that’s for sure. They don’t have an easy job.”
Both men were treated for cold and shock but escaped the ordeal without serious injury.
Hanley announced his retirement in December after 13 years of service to the Tribesmen in a career which yielded three Connacht titles, five International Rules appearances and he was man of the match in the All-Ireland club final in 2006 as he helped Salthill-Knocknacarra to the ultimate prize.