Miraculous recovery as Limerick’s Daragh goes from coma to GAA glory

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

Daragh Fanning in action for the Limerick Minors against Tipperary Liam Fahey last year. Picture: Sportsfile
A LIMERICK hurler who was placed in an induced coma after a horrific car crash in February is back studying for his Leaving Cert – and Daragh Fanning is also celebrating this week after winning an Under-21 county final medal on Tuesday evening.

A LIMERICK hurler who was placed in an induced coma after a horrific car crash in February is back studying for his Leaving Cert – and Daragh Fanning is also celebrating this week after winning an Under-21 county final medal on Tuesday evening.

Eighteen-year-old Daragh, from Pallasgreen, was in a critical condition after being rushed to University Hospital Limerick following the accident in Cappamore. For a time he was in the prayers and thoughts of many after his car smashed into a wall. The major concern was brain damage as his head took the brunt of the impact after he fell asleep at the wheel. His jaw was broken in two places. But after being brought out of the induced coma the brave teenager told his dad, Jimmy, that he aimed to be back for the first round of the county championship.

In fact, Daragh was back even before that – and on the biggest stage of all. He came on in the second half for the Abbey School at Croke Park last Sunday week. Daragh was pitched straight into a hectic midfield battle. He even sparked a resurgence but the Hollywood ending wasn’t to be as the Tipperary school was beaten in the schools final.

“It was unreal considering I had been in a serious car accident a few weeks earlier to be able to run out in Croke Park. I do have more reconstruction to get done on my face - my jaw and my mouth. I am missing a lot of teeth so I will have to get them put back in. I have a lot to do still but I am on the road to recovery,” said Daragh, who certainly is – as he scored a goal in Pallasgreen’s U21 b county final win on Tuesday night.

Daragh wished to thank the staff in the hospital for their superb care but they did differ on one issue. “They told me to forget about the Leaving Cert, to do it next year. I was in hospital for two weeks, at home for two weeks and then I went back to school because I was sick of being at home!” said Daragh, who simply fell asleep at the wheel.

“It can happen very easily. I don’t remember anything. It is all a blur to me. We all take a chance sometimes when we are tired but it is only when it happens you realise the seriousness of it. It could have been a whole lot worse. I was lucky I had things that are fixable. Give it a couple more months and I will be OK. There was no head injury and that was the key thing,” said Daragh, who is a cousin of John Hayes. His strength and conditioning played a big part in minimising his injuries and helping his recovery. The next aim is to make the U21 panel after his exams.

Daragh wished to thank his principal, John Kiely and teachers, Damian O’Brien and Noel Kilcoyne for all their support and encouragement. His dad, Jimmy, said teachers do a lot more than teach. “Myself and my wife [Ann] were the two proudest parents in Croke Park. Nine weeks before that he was looking at maybe never playing football or hurling again. He has a great outlook on life – nothing gets him down,” said Jimmy.

Limerick U21 hurling manager and principal of the Abbey School, John Kiely described Daragh as a “natural leader”.

“Obviously he is very mentally and physically strong to come out of what he has been through. He is not finished with his treatment yet but he is on a massive upward trajectory and was on it from an early stage in his recovery. He is studying hard for his exams and everything is going great. He has a very strong network of friends in Pallasgreen and here in the school. One evening I called to see him when he was at home recuperating and there were five of his classmates in the sitting room and the craic and banter was great.

“It is a great sign of young people today that they recognised when one of their colleagues is in need of a bit of a lift,” said John, who looks forward to assessing a number of last year’s star minors – once they have finished their Leaving Cert.