Cillian defies the odds to feature in schools’ final

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Cormac Blake, left, Michael O'Donnell, centre, and Cillian Rea celebrate after victory over Rockwell. Picture: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
CRESCENT College Comprehensive’s victory over Rockwell in the Munster Senior Schools Cup brought euphoria to a team that defied the odds to lift the cup.

CRESCENT College Comprehensive’s victory over Rockwell in the Munster Senior Schools Cup brought euphoria to a team that defied the odds to lift the cup.

After scraping through the semi-final, the team comprehensively beat favourites Rockwell in the final, who were gunning for their third straight title.

There were a lot of stories on and off the pitch in the triumph for the school, including that of Jack Dinneen following in the footsteps of his Dad Len by winning the trophy his father captured 30 years ago this year.

But one of the most heart warming stories was the return to action of Crecora youth Cillian Rea, who came on a substitute in the closing stages of the final, just seven months since a brush with death in Kilkee.

The 18-year-old was described as being ‘lucky to be alive’ after diving off the pier in Kilkee and striking his head on a rock, suffering a serious head wound in the process.

The hooker, a member of victorious Crescent junior cup teams, was dramatically airlifted to Galway by the search and rescue helicopter after fears were raised that he had suffered head, neck and back injuries.

He received 40 stitches to the wound in his head but, after some painful swelling, made a full recovery.

Contacted by the Limerick Leader in the aftermath of Crescent’s win and Cillian’s return to action - he also dislocated a shoulder before the first round of the competition - Dad Mike said he was delighted for his son.

“Thinking back on where he came from seven months ago - when it happened, at the time it was very serious - it is a great turnaround,” said Mike of his son, who previously played for Bruff.

“It was a horrific experience for him in fairness, he’s made of better stuff than I,” laughed Mike, whose family are originally from Effin. A large number of holidaymakers in Kilkee witnessed the dramatic aftermath of the incident. The Kilkee Marine Rescue Service - whose headquarters neighbour the pier - sprang quickly into action shortly after the alarm was raised.

A major recovery operation was mounted through the Irish Coast Guard, with an ambulance, a rapid response paramedic and a doctor sent to the scene, while the search and rescue helicopter was dispatched.

“We didn’t know what the story was, we were thinking the worst case scenario and the turnaround by Cillian has been brilliant,” admitted Mike.