After a sporting weekend which saw Mark Rodgers produce a spellbinding four goal display while Shane O’Donnell showcased his class once more, it is unfortunate that the biggest talking point from the weekend was in fact not the action on the field.
The nasty ankle injury suffered by Inagh Kilnamona centre back Jason McCarthy, who was forced to wait almost an hour for an ambulance to arrive, overshadowed his side’s SHC quarter final encounter with Éire Óg.
Meanwhile, Kilkishen Celtic AFC player Paddy McInerney broke his tibia and fibia in a game against Shannon Hibs in the FAI Junior Cup and the 38-year-old was forced to wait an hour and a half for an ambulance to arrive.
A nurse from Shannon, who attended the game, helped to comfort the player until the medical personnel arrived and transported him to hospital.
A freak accident saw McInerney suffer the cruel blow with both himself and Jason McCarthy left with long waits before being transported to University Hospital Limerick (UHL).
Inagh Kilnamona Chairman Ollie Mescall told The Clare Champion that despite the public debate over whether Clare GAA should have had a private ambulance on call in case of an injury, the club are solely focused on McCarthy’s recovery after the injury early in the second half.
As Clare GAA will decide in the coming days whether to employ a private ambulance for the semi final and showpiece event, Mescall feels that this is a nationwide issue with a shortage of ambulance crews available to help in situations such as the one which transpired last Sunday.
With McCarthy being forced to wait for the swelling on his ankle to improve before he can undergo surgery, the debate surrounding the state of the health service in dealing with situations such as this will linger.
After a paramedic arrived within a half an hour, McCarthy was forced to wait almost another 30 minutes for the ambulance to arrive before he was transported to UHL.
“We are only concerned that he is ok. I wouldn’t be shouting at Clare GAA or the GAA in general. This is a wider issue in society and with our health system unfortunately. There was nothing we could do unfortunately,” said Mescall.
“The GAA is a voluntary organisation and the wait maybe shows where the health service is at. If someone can be there to speed up the process than it may be worth looking at but there are people more qualified than me to call these type of things.”
The Chairman admitted the injury puts everything in to perspective after Inagh Kilnamona produced a flat display as they exited the Championship against a ferocious Éire Óg outfit
“Health is the most important thing. The injury didn’t have a bearing on the result of the match but afterwards everyone’s attention turned to that. The lads did their best and it was tough for the guys to see their teammate get injured, but they did continue to battle and we are all wishing Jason the best in his recovery.”
Clare GAA Chairman Kieran Keating feels that hiring a private ambulance wasn’t feasible due to the volume of games over the weekend.
“Our problem is when you have games across the county in places like Tulla and Clarecastle, where do you start and finish? You could hire all the ambulances and still not be able to cover all the games.
“We only expected 600 or 700 present at the venue while usually we would look at providing the cover at games with attendances of 5,000 or more while we can put it in if there is a few thousand attending a match.”
The Chairman extended his best wishes to McCarthy in his recovery as he stated that the equipment needed to treat the Inagh Kilnamona defender was only available to the ambulance staff and that the Order of Malta or Red Cross’s presence would not have resulted in a shorter waiting time.
When questioned on whether a private ambulance will be hired for the semi finals and subsequently the showpiece event, Keating states that the issue will be discussed in due course.
“It depends on the crowd expected and there will be a risk assessment done. We would examine how many supporters will be there and the likelihood of an incident occurring either in the terraces or to a player in a game.
“The senior semi finals would have a higher intensity than an average game but on the flip side they would be played on a better surface. I’d expect an ambulance for the final, but it was just unfortunate that this type of injury occurred and with the similar injury in the soccer, it just shows that these injuries can happen at any time.”
Meanwhile, Kilkishen Celtic AFC saw their FAI Junior Cup tie with Shannon Hibernians abandoned after the unfortunate injury to Paddy McInerney.
His father Liam spoke to The Clare Champion as he stated his gratitude for the assistance provided by a nurse who was there to watch the two sides do battle.
“There was a brilliant nurse there from Shannon who knew everything that needed to be done as we waited. Without a doubt he’d be just lying there in pain, but she knew everything that could be done to help Paddy. She was an angel.”
With Liam emphasising that there was no malice in the challenge that led to his son’s injury, he admits that lengthy waiting times are all too common for people in a similar situation to Paddy.
“The way things are an hour and a half wasn’t too bad but it’s still a long time. It has gone crazy with some places seeing three or four hour waits. I’m not here to knock the ambulance crews or anyone who looked after Paddy, they were out of this world.”
“It’s not their fault but the system is just crazy at the moment. I wouldn’t dream of knocking people who are doing their best but there probably aren’t enough ambulances out there now.
“They will never get to all matches as every county has Championship. We are not here to knock anyone while Paddy’s in good form and over his surgery so that’s the main thing for us.”
After this weekend’s action, both Inagh Kilnamona and Kilkishen Celtic AFC are focused on the road to recovery. However, questions must be asked as to the extended waits players and members of the public in general frequently face after suffering injuries such as those experienced by the two players on Sunday.
Will we see a gradual change and an upsurge in investment towards ensuring more ambulance crews are available in situations such as these? Time will tell.