Lyster's heart attack shock

Michael Lyster
Michael Lyster

RTE broadcasting legend Michael Lyster was seriously ill in hospital last night after suffering what is believed to be a heart attack.

The veteran 61-year-old The Sunday Game presenter was rushed to the Mater Hospital after suffering cardiac arrest at his home in Cabinteely, Co Dublin.

It is believed that he was given CPR before he was rushed into the cardiac unit of the Dublin hospital.

Last night his condition was described as “serious but stable”.

The hard-working dad-of-four is currently being treated for the same condition that nearly cost him his life three years ago.

He was diagnosed with chronic heart failure in November 2012, having felt unwell right through the previous September.

Believing at the time that he was merely battling some obstinate form of flu, Lyster instead discovered that his heart was operating at “maybe 15 per cent of its capacity” by the time he presented himself at Blackrock Clinic for tests

“I had heart failure,” he later recalled. “It was towards the end of the championship season in 2012. I began to feel sick, but didn’t know what was wrong with me and kept going. I was actually making things worse.”

He claimed the diagnosis came as a shock.

“Everyone thinks they are indestructible, but then you realise you are not and that health can so easily be taken away from you,” he stated.

Asked if he felt lucky after the last scare, he replied: “Oh God, yeah. If I had assumed for another week or two that this was just a flu and that I could beat my way through it, or if it happened to me earlier in the year and the All-Ireland finals were still to be done, I’d probably have decided to keep going and I mightn’t have made it.

“The best-case scenario would have been that I’d have collapsed and been rushed to hospital, but it might have been too late to rush me anywhere. When your heart is operating at that low a level, it’s not necessarily a heart attack that’s the risk, it’s the risk of just dropping dead.

“Actually, fellas who get heart attacks, their hearts would be in better shape than mine was. My heart was just gradually shutting down. That’s the scary thing about it.”

Forced to make key lifestyle changes, he insisted, however, that he still enjoys himself.

“I have made changes but nothing dramatic,” he said later. 

“It is a case of minding myself. I try to take a bit of exercise, try to watch what I eat and I have cut down on what I drink.

“I also take my medication. When you put the combination of stuff together, it seems to be going OK so far.

“I have to be aware. If my heart starts beating a bit fast I know I have to address that situation and take a bit of a rest. I now know what the signs are.”

Michael is best known for presenting The Sunday Game, a position he has held since he took over in 1984.

The following year, in 1985, he married his wife Anne and together they have two boys and two girls.

The son of a garda, he was born in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, but when he was four his father was transferred to Barnaderg, Co. Galway, where Lyster spent his formative years.

He was educated at St Jarlath’s College in nearby Tuam and began his journalistic career as a junior reporter with the Tuam Herald, where he wrote a music column.

He spent seven years with that newspaper before moving to television and radio.

He joined RTÉ as a sports broadcaster with Radio 2 in 1980 and began covering high-profile sporting events. In his first year at the national broadcaster he also covered the Olympic Games on radio.

One of the highlights of his early career was covering the 1982 and 1983 All-Ireland hurling finals for radio.

In 1988, Lyster won a Jacob’s Award for his work on The Sunday Game. He has covered a number of sports for RTÉ and has been an ever-present feature on RTÉ’s coverage of the Olympics.

He remains, however, mostly associated with Gaelic games and has been one of the main presenters of the All Star and the RTÉ Sports Person of the Year awards shows.

One of his major hobbies is rally driving, which he has enjoyed since the early 1990s. He has been involved  in many events, including the Cork International Rally, where he finished third in 1992, the Circuit of Ireland Rally and the Killarney Rally of the Lakes

Last night, a spokesman for RTE said Lyster would not be presenting the Sunday Game today and wasn’t at the helm of the Saturday Game yesterday.

“That’s all we will be saying,” the spokesperson added.