Proud moment: Eoin and Maria Kealy Johnson at the finish line of the Dunshaughlin 10K

Eoin back on track after fall left him sightless

A young Dunshaughlin man who lost his sight after suffering a brain injury in a horrific fall in Guatemala says that successfully completing the Dunshaughlin 10k road race was one of the proudest moments of his life. Eoin Sheehy (29) was on a trip of a lifetime travelling through Central America in 2016 when a freak fall nearly 30 feet off an exposed ledge in San Pedro La Laguna in Guatemala left him fighting for his life.

The young man underwent two major surgeries to treat a bleed on his brain and was placed an induced coma. Eoin was initially treated at a local hospital before being airlifted to a hospital in Guatemala City, where he remained for two weeks.

He was flown back to Ireland where he received treatment in Beaumont for seven months before undergoing further rehabilitation in The National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire. There, brave Eoin had to learn to walk and talk again as well as coming to terms with the fact that he would never see again. 

Inspirational Eoin has fought hard to regain his independence 

The massive achievement was a defining moment for the Dunshaughlin man who has fought hard to rebuild his life after the devastating event.

“I took time out from working in London to travel for eight months with my friends and was a month into the trip when I had the accident. The rural roads there don’t even have concrete or paths. The next few months were all a bit of a blur for me.”

Eoin tragically lost his sight as a result of his brain injury but is determined to not let this define him.

“It was devastating at first and hard to accept. With a brain injury, there’s a chance that you could eventually regain your sight but that didn’t happen for me. I was told that my focus should be getting back to daily living and do that without having sight in case it never came back. Having to rely on people to do everything for me was very tough because I was such an independent person. 

“I attended the National Council for the Blind’s training centre for 20 weeks and did courses like learning how to cook. I’ve gone from being very nervous at making a cup of tea to be able to meals for multiple people. I feel way more capable than I did before.

Athlete Eoin with lead runner Maria Kealy Johnson

 “My memory was also really affected when I came out of the coma. I could only remember about a year or two back but has it has improved. I’ve had to do speech and language courses, memory training, physio and occupational therapy, it’s been a long road.”

Eoin’s running journey began when he started training with Maria Kealy Johnson of Transform Health Limited in Kilmessan. Maria acts as the lead runner guiding Eoin during races. 

“At the beginning, I’d go on the treadmill for ten minutes and be absolutely exhausted but I stuck with it. Training became really important to me and allowed me to get my independence back. 

“I did the Ratoath 5km run only after a couple of months of starting with Maria and I had to stop and get sick, two or three times along the way. I did it again the following year and the idea was always to build up to the 10km. To be able to chat away to Maria for half an hour while we are running really helps me, any stress I have is relieved when I’m running.”

The duo completed the Dunshaughlin 10km  Race in just over an hour and Eoin says that he will never forget the adrenaline rush of crossing that finish line.

“ It was such an adrenaline rush. I felt a massive sense of achievement. When I crossed the finish line, everyone started clapping and cheering, it was a really proud and special moment.”


Eoin completed the  Dunshaughlin 10km in just over an hour 

There were two choices to lay down and give up or to keep fighting according to the inspirational athlete.

“It would have been easy to be angry at the world but If I was sitting at home moping and being upset the entire time it would get me nowhere. You need motivation and to focus on something positive. I remember after those first few tough sessions in the gym, I could have given up but I’m delighted that I kept going. 

“There are always ways of getting around challenges. If you are faced with a difficult situation there is always hope. The support of friends and family has always kept me positive. I really feel lucky to be alive.”

 Eoin and Maria Kealy Johnson are already planning their next race.

“Eoin completed the 10km in just over an hour which was amazing. His confidence has grown and I have seen him evolve so much as a person. We knew we could do it. He has absolutely no idea how inspirational he is. I’m so proud of him. Bring on the next challenge,” Maria says.