Celts and Reds helped local lad in tough times

Miracle boy Joseph treasures golden ticket

Joseph McDermott with his mum Joanne and Grandad Simon Smith Joseph McDermott with his mum Joanne and Grandad Simon Smith
By Ciara Quinn

A nine-year-old boy who suffered life-threatening injuries in January after he was struck by a car on the Grosvenor Road was guest of honour at the Champions League clash between Cliftonville and Celtic last night.

In a miraculous recovery that amazed doctors at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, Joseph McDermott attended the match with his mother Joanne and grandfather Simon Smith. Speaking from their Grovetree North home, which was bedecked in the colours of both famous old clubs, Joanne told the Andersonstown News that doctors have called Joseph “a miracle”.

“In January we were keeping a constant bedside vigil at Joseph’s bed and we were hoping the specialist ‘Halo’ neck brace which had to be drilled into his skull was going to aid his recovery,” she said. “He had fractured the back of his skull, he had some bleeding around his brain, a break in his neck, swollen shoulders and had pins put in his arms. He had broken ribs, a break in his pelvis and a broken ankle.

“A number of scans were sent to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and even as far as America which had staff baffled at ‘this miracle’. It was around May that doctors decided to take the Halo brace off He was fitted with a moulded brace to support his neck which has made him a lot more comfortable but his progress will be monitored by medical staff.

“Joseph went from hardly ever seeing the doctor to being seriously ill with folders of notes and now to be able to get to see such a big match with him is just absolutely brilliant.:

Joseph’s grandfather Simon said that when his grandson was gravely ill he would read Cliftonville and Celtic match reports to him when he was in a coma. “I used to sing all the songs to him and keep him up to date with all the action,” said Simon. “Cliftonville and Celtic football clubs have been of unbelievable support to us since Joseph was in hospital, every one of the players in Cliftonville have mentioned him by name and Neil Lennon sent us a get well card from the club. We were in the Celtic Shop last month and Neil Lennon had sent in a card for Joseph wishing him all the best.”

Amidst the scramble for tickets, the family only found out they were going to Solitude on Monday. “I had emailed the club but only got confirmation on Monday with a ticket for Joanne,” explained Simon. “We are just so excited to be going and it is such a turnaround in Joseph’s health that he will be there singing every song the loudest.”

As we went to press last night it was all to play for, but Joseph told us: “I have got a golden ticket, it’s my ticket to Paradise. I think Celtic will win but Cliftonville will definitely score one. Conor Devlin is my favourite Cliftonville player and I want to get my programme signed by Liam Boyce on the night.”

“This match is going to be something we can all share in together,” said Joanne. “I cherish things so much now, even the little things like a trip to the cinema. Joseph has become so much more outgoing since coming out of hospital, he is always happy. He is my miracle.

“Our next big step is waiting to hear if he can go back to school in September. We would like to just thank the entire community for their thoughts and prayers since the start of the year. We received so many cards from people it really helped us through.”

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