GAA boss reveals he suffered 'no warning' stroke

Feargal Logan
Tyrone GAA's Feargal Logan collapsed at his home as he was getting ready for his county's Allianz football league clash with rivals Derry [BBC]

Tyrone's All-Ireland winning joint manager Feargal Logan has spoken for the first time about the moment he collapsed at home after having a stroke - and how he learned that nobody is as invincible as they think they are.

The 55-year-old was getting ready for a National Football League clash with rivals Derry when the stroke happened.

It was reported at the time he was dealing with health issues.

Logan has been on a break from management since.

'I thought I'd overcooked it at the gym'

His message now is "don't disregard or underestimate anything in your health".

The father-of-three said there was "no warning" and it came on "really suddenly".

He described how his legs felt "very heavy" as he got to the top of the stairs that Sunday morning.

He thought he had "overcooked it" at the gym the day before - but a serious stroke had developed.

Scan of brain
Feargal did not have the usual symptoms of a stroke [Getty Images]

A stroke is a life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.

He said the stroke had injured the balance centre of his brain and that he felt like "the big blown-up pencil thing you see at events when the air is taken out of it".

As he lay on the floor, Logan said neither he nor his wife Eileen thought of a stroke as he did not have the usual symptoms, which he described as "a bit worrying".

"The usual face, arms, speech, time didn't appear relevant albeit I was on the floor and had been particularly sick.

"But, as I understand it, balance can be an issue and eyes can be an issue," he said.

Logan said he was talking normally and still thought he might make it to Tyrone's game in Derry that afternoon, but ended up in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

He is thankful for the "professionalism and calmness" of everyone he dealt with in the health service, in particular Dr Ivan Wiggam and the Acute Stroke Unit in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Since being discharged from hospital, he has been getting home rehabilitation from the Southern Health Trust's Community Stroke Team which he said has been "super”, but he said the sudden onset of the stroke was "difficult to prepare for".

"There is a shock in it," he said. "There's a vulnerability post-event. Now it's small steps back into society and back into life.

"It's clichéd but you appreciate your health when you've had a scare. I'm in that boat now.

"I think still relatively young for that boat, but age is no factor in some of these things."

Feargal Logan at GAA match
Feargal hopes to dip his "toes back in" and return to managing Tyrone [Getty Images]

While the Tyrone man did not have all the classic symptoms, he said it is important people know what to look out for and always get your health checked if you have concerns.

"The biggest message, and maybe I'm guilty of it, is you think you're invincible and none of us quite are.

"Don't underestimate or disregard anything that could be serious," he said.

"The thought, which I would have had plenty of times, was 'it'll never happen to me' - so just be cautious and careful."

Logan keen for GAA return

Reflecting on the past 16 weeks, Logan said he has had a lot of time for thinking and "hopefully not too much time for self-pity".

He considers himself very fortunate to have come through his illness and has the "deepest gratitude" and appreciation for his family, friends and well-wishers.

Fatigue still affects him.

"I think time is going to be a big factor in terms of rehabbing and getting on with a full engagement with life, as you would have," he said.

Logan said what happened to him "might change the fact that you'll not predict too far into the future because you're just conscious that every day is important".

What is not too far in the future is Tyrone's next game in the All-Ireland Championship.

Tyrone joint-managers Brian Dooher, left, and Feargal Logan lift the Sam Maguire Cup after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Mayo and Tyrone at Croke Park in Dublin.
Tyrone joint-managers Brian Dooher, left, and Feargal Logan after winning the All-Ireland in 2021 [Getty Images]

Logan, along with Brian Dooher, led Tyrone senior footballers to their fourth All-Ireland title in their first season in charge in 2021.

He has been a notable absentee from the sidelines for almost four months.

Gaelic football has been central to his life, and it is a hobby and a passion he is keen to get back into.

"In the immortal words of the late Art McRory [former Tyrone manager] 'it's a disease and there is no cure'.

"In one sense it is a focus, and it's a good environment to be about," he added.

Tyrone will play Donegal on Saturday in Ballybofey and while Logan said there will be a "determined Tyrone outfit" there, he is also determined to "contribute".

"If I'm fit and able it's a lot better than sitting in this room here watching it on TV and nearly breaking the TV a few times.

"I hope to dip my toes back in here as we go forward and it's small steps with everything in life now.

"Hopefully we'll see where the football fits into all that."

So do not be surprised if you see a familiar face in the stand of MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey this weekend, as Feargal Logan, slowly but surely, gets back to, not only full health, but a sport he loves.

What to do if you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke?

Call emergency services - 999 in the UK - immediately and ask for an ambulance.

The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:

Face - drooping

Arms - unable to lift both and keep them there.

Speech - slurred, garbled or unresponsive

Time - dial 999 immediately