Joy of the cup: Paralysed Limerick man smiles from ear to ear at visit of Liam MacCarthy

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

Fergal Cagney with his family, neighbours and friends and the Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire Cups outside his home in Kilteely Picture: Dave Gaynor

Fergal Cagney with his family, neighbours and friends and the Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire Cups outside his home in Kilteely Picture: Dave Gaynor

“LUIMNEACH Abu!” said Fergal Cagney when the Liam MacCarthy Cup came to his Kilteely home.

Fergal is the president of Kilteely Dromkeen GAA Club and was a fine hurler before a fateful morning in January 2005. Fergal, who was in his early twenties at the time, was driving to work when he hit black ice on the road between Hospital and Herbertstown.

“I lost control of my car. I crashed into an oncoming jeep. Thankfully I was wearing a seatbelt and no one else was injured. I had no broken bones or bruising, but I suffered injuries to my spine and was paralysed from the neck down,” explained Fergal. 

When Kilteely-Dromkeen heard they were getting the cup on Saturday afternoon they knew it had to go to Cagneys. Fergal was joined by parents Vincent and Frances, brothers Brian, Kevin and Noel, sister-in-law Bernadette, grand nephews Sean, Iarla and Ryan, grand niece Avril, neighbours and friends. Fergal, wearing a Limerick jersey, said he was “proud and delighted” to have the Liam MacCarthy Cup in his house. 

“My family, friends and neighbours were honoured by the visit. It was great to hold the cup in my arms after such a long absence. As president of Kilteely-Dromkeen GAA Club it was a lovely gesture by the club to bring it round. My thanks to all of those involved and for making it possible. Luimneach Abu!” said Fergal. The Sam Maguire Cup was also there courtesy of his uncles – the McGraths – who are based in Dublin.

Robert O’Dea, chairman of Kilteely-Dromkeen GAA, said Fergal is very special to the club.

“Before he had the accident he played for the junior hurling team. He is our president and the club is very close to him since the accident. If something is happening in the parish we always like Fergal to be part of it. He officially opened our summer festival one year.

“He is a big GAA and Munster fan. He goes to some of our club games but unfortunately wasn’t able to go to the All-Ireland. He goes to every game he is well enough to go to,” said Robert.

Another popular local club man was in their thoughts on Saturday – the late Robert O’Dea.

He passed away suddenly in June. For the past 40 years he was ever present at the committee table or on the sidelines of the pitch and represented the club at East and County Board level.

“The day was tinged with sadness that Robbie wasn’t there. If he had been around it would have been a great honour for him because he was steeped in the GAA,” said Robert. After the visit to the Cagneys, the Cup went to the Teach in Cloverfield and the hall in Kilteely. It was brought by John Kiely, Ger O’Connell and Kilteely’s own Eamon O’Neill and Denny Ahern, part of the management team.

“Denny does the IT work and Eamon does the logistics. Eamon was born and reared in Kiteely and played all his underage hurling and football with Kilteely,” said Robert. They were interviewed by Eibhear O’Dea who was the driving force behind the Lifting the Treaty document 10 years ago that focused on underage development.

 “That paved the way for this success,” said Robert. Richie McCarthy and Barry Murphy capped off a great day by presenting medals to an U-15 team that won a county competition.

The final word must go to Fergal who has been a strong road safety advocate since his accident.

“I want to encourage those going to matches to drive carefully as the excitement of the occasion might distract one’s driving,” said Fergal.