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Death of GAA star helped raise awareness of need for screening

Cathal-Forde-nLAST Wednesday (April 10) marked the one-year anniversary of the loss of hurler Cathal Forde to SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome). 

The Gort native, 28, collapsed and died during a training session with London-based club Kilburn Gaels in Highgate and The Irish Post understands that both his former clubs are hoping to organise an annual fixture to honour his memory.

In the months that followed his death, London GAA committed to training members from all London clubs how to use the potentially lifesaving defibrillator equipment, with 35 people attending training courses.

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Ed Donovan from Heart Aid, an Irish organisation that provides mobile cardiac screening, said that in the 12 months since Cathal’s death and the heart attack and sudden recovery of Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba, there had been a marked increase in screening and prevention measures to combat SADS in Ireland and in particular, within the GAA.

“Muamba and the passing of Cathal Forde definitely raised awareness around the issue,” he said. “Before, only the top teams would undertake screening and training in the equipment, but there has been a trickle down to clubs and the GAA has shown leadership in its commitment to this in terms of sports organisations in Ireland.”

Donovan said that two people are dying every week from SADs in Ireland and that the nation suffered a higher rate than most other European countries.

“It is clear lives are being saved because of the screening,” he said. GAA development officer and London footballer Mark Gottsche said there were plans to run a refresher course for all clubs during the summer. There are defibrillators in both Greenford and Ruislip GAA grounds.

Cathal Forde worked as an engineer in London and was planning to return and live in Ireland with his partner Sheila Forde. He was corner-back on the Kilburn Gaels team that won the London SHC in 2010.


Robert Mulhern

Robert is a freelance news and sports journalist. He is also the author of A Very Different County and creator/producer of Sex, Flights and Videotapes for RTE's Doc on One. Follow him @MulhernRobert on Twitter

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