Champion Dublin footballer thought stroke symptoms were tiredness from training

Champion Dublin Footballer Thought Stroke Symptoms Were Tiredness From Training
Siobhan McGrath said that the ‘Fast’ mantra helped her realise she was having a stroke. Photo: PA
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

A four-time All-Ireland winning footballer has revealed how she initially mistook the symptoms of a stroke as feeling tired after a training session.

Siobhan McGrath – who has lifted the Brendan Martin Cup with Dublin in 2010, 2018, 2019, and 2020 – said she had woken up one morning last June and felt exhausted and confused.


As she had been on a club run-out the night before, she put the aches and pains down to that.

But the half-back said she found tasks such as putting on a T-shirt, opening a window and sending an email more complicated than usual.



The 35-year-old said she knew something was not right when her house alarm sounded and she struggled to switch it off.

“In my mind, I knew what the correct code was, but it was as if my body wouldn’t let me enter it into the keypad,” Ms McGrath said.

She said she remembered the ‘Fast’ TV adverts about the signs of stroke: facial drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech and the importance of time to get medical help if experiencing any of these symptoms.


“I looked in the mirror and my face wasn’t drooping on one side,” she said.

“I tried to tell myself, ‘you’re not having a stroke’, but the words didn’t come.

“I started to speak, but simple sentences sounded like double Dutch.

“It was at that moment that I decided to phone my mum – but it took a few attempts before she could understand what I was trying to say.”


Ms McGrath, an ambassador for the Irish Heart Foundation, is now encouraging people to familiarise themselves with the Fast signs.

Research by the charity indicates that just one in 10 people know what all four letters of Fast stand for, and as a stroke kills two million brain cells each minute, the quicker patients get medical help the better their recovery.

The HSE’s national clinical lead for stroke Professor Ronan Collins said it is a leading cause of death and disability.

“Nothing is more likely to suddenly change your life completely, or end it, as a stroke – but it doesn’t always have to be the case,” he said.


“We have made great strides in improved diagnosis, treatment and cure and in restoring people to fuller lives after stroke.

“But the faster we recognise and seek treatment, the greater the chance of a successful outcome. Know the common signs and symptoms of stroke and if you suspect stroke, act Fast and call an ambulance immediately.”

After an MRI and a series of tests, it was confirmed that Ms McGrath suffered a stroke.

She then spent a week in Tallaght Hospital, and aside from some problems with vocabulary, she feels she has made a full recovery.

She has returned to work and is back playing for her club Thomas Davis in Tallaght.

“Thanks to the ‘Fast’ message, I knew I needed to get help,” she said.

“If you recognise any one of the signs, get medical help immediately. No-one is invincible. I’m lucky that I had my family and boyfriend minding me.”

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