Hurler garda gets €45k for car ramming
A garda whose promising GAA career was badly affected when his patrol car was rammed has been awarded almost €45,000 in damages at the High Court.
Gda Niall Maher was stationed in Bray when the incident occurred in Shankill, south Dublin, on January 4, 2011 when his car was hit head-on in a collision with a joyrider.
The court heard that the driver drove at him at around 100kmph, and Gda Maher had to be taken to St Vincent's Hospital.
The officer was later told that if he had not been wearing a seatbelt he would have been killed in the crash.
Instead, he sustained injuries to his neck and back which required extensive physiotherapy and osteopathic treatments.
Gda Maher told the court this week of the negative impact the collision had on his sporting career.
He pointed out that he had played under-age hurling and football for the Wexford county side and had been a goalkeeper for the team in the 2005 minor Leinster hurling final.
He also played handball for his club and county, won titles in this sport and played in international competitions.
Barrister Cian Kelly, who represented the State at this week's High Court hearing, put it to Gda Maher that the reason he was not playing hurling at the moment is because he believes that he is too good to play that sport at a junior level.
Gda Maher went on to explain that he "felt very emotional and upset" while he watched Wexford's dramatic win against Waterford last Saturday because he felt he would have been playing in that game if not for the injuries he had suffered.
He also said he has put on two-and-a-half stone since the accident.
Judge Mary Irvine noted that Gda Maher was an accomplished sportsman and that the injuries impacted on his sporting career.
She awarded him €37,500 in general damages and €7,487 in special damages.
He also explained during the hearing that he was the nephew of Wexford goalkeeping legend Damien Fitzhenry who had been his mentor.
The Herald can reveal that the 31-year-old criminal who drove at Gda Maher is well-known Traveller Edward 'Ned' Connors (31), from Shankill, south Dublin.
He was charged with endangerment, dangerous driving, criminal damage, driving without insurance and driving under the influence of alcohol and cocaine in relation to the incident.
He was later jailed for a year and banned from driving for 15 years.