Northern Ireland

Referee dies after collapsing at Swatragh hurling game

Martin Mulholland
Image caption A defibrillator was used to try and revive Martin Mulholland

A referee has died after collapsing at a hurling match in Swatragh, County Londonderry.

Martin Mulholland from Slaughtneil, who was in his 50s, was refereeing the quarter final between Kevin Lynch's, Dungiven, and St Colm's, Ballinascreen when he collapsed.

Paramedics treated him on the pitch and then brought him to the changing rooms where a defibrillator was used.

He was then taken to Coleraine hospital, where he later died.

About 700 to 800 spectators, including Slaughtneil hurling secretary and Mulholland family friend Damien McEldowney, were at the game.

Mr McEldowney said Mr Mulholland's death had shocked the entire community because he was the "fittest referee in the county".

"Five minutes in to the second half he blew the whistle and went down," he added.

"At the start nobody in the ground knew what was wrong. When we seen everyone rushing that's when everyone realised it was something serious."

Mr Mulholland was then taken to the park's changing rooms, where a defibrillator was used.

"They thought they had brought him around, but he took a turn in the ambulance," Mr McEldowney added.

'Deep sadness'

The county's GAA spokesman Chris McCann said everyone was stunned at the Slaughtneil clubman's death.

"When the news came through on yesterday evening the initial reaction was deep, deep shock that something had happened to Martin, who was so well known and well respected across the county," he added.

"He is a guy who has been involved in GAA across the county for decades, all of his life.

"There is a deep sense of sadness and a deep sense of loss that the county has lost such a good gael. Our thoughts are with his family and how they are coping."

Mr Mulholland is survived by his wife and four sons.

All league and championship matches scheduled for this weekend in Derry have been postponed as a mark of respect.

It is the second time in less than a week that a referee has collapsed at a GAA match in Northern Ireland.

On Sunday, a defibrillator was used to resuscitate Gabriel Tumelty after he collapsed on the pitch during a match between Burren and Longstone in Newry.

The 46-year-old was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital for treatment.

Last month, Chris McNeill, 17, collapsed during a Milk Cup football game in Portstewart.

He was revived with a defibrillator by a doctor whose son was playing in the game, and members of the St John Ambulance.

The teenager was taken to Coleraine Hospital and later underwent surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

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