A plucky teenager who warded off an attacker with a karate kick has said she relives the terrifying incident every minute but hopes her "scary story" will save someone else.
Kate Mulhern (17) has been overwhelmed by the huge public response after telling how she used her kenpo training to protect herself and send her would-be abductor flying.
Kate, a kenpo brown-belt, was walking the family's new puppy Mia not far from her home at Blackcastle Demesne, in Navan, Co Meath, at 2pm on Tuesday when she noticed a man seemed to be following her.
She said she texted her friend about her concerns before the man confronted her and tried to pull her into a waiting black saloon car, driven by another man. As Mia growled and barked, Kate saw an opening and gave the man, who was in his 40s, a karate kick to his ribs which sent him flying back against the car, in which he made his escape.
Kate said the man who grabbed her was wearing a black hat and navy zip-up fleece.
Although she admits she is still shaken, Kate is now going to continue teaching kenpo to younger children and is encouraging everyone to learn some form of self-defence.
"It's still crazy. I'm just shell-shocked at all the reaction. I think the reality of what happened only really began to sink in yesterday," she said.
Kate, who trains with Irish Kenpo Karate Union chief instructor Paul Brennan in Dublin, represented Ireland twice last year and competed in the world championships in Tenerife in 2017.
"I went training last night and everything seemed to be going in one ear and out the other," she said.Nervous
"I'm reliving the attack every minute and thinking what could've happened. I think why me but the reality is that it could have been anyone and anyone who hasn't got the training I have.
"I feel a bit nervous going out again but all this positive coverage has boosted my confidence and self-belief. I know I was able to do this and I know that I'll be able to do it again, if necessary."
Kate now wants to turn her ordeal into something positive and will continue to teach her kenpo skills to younger children at the Johnstown Kenpo Karate Club after Easter.
Even her nine-year old sister Sarah, who gave up kenpo, now wants to return to further her own skills after Kate's attack.
"I never thought I'd have the confidence to talk like this but I want to turn my scary story into something positive and if it helps one other person, it will all be worth it. It's great that my little sister has also decided to come back to kenpo," said Kate.
Kate's mother Hazel added: "Although she fights in competitions, Kate by nature is timid and non-confrontational so I'm very proud that she was able to instinctively use her training in this danger.
"Parents think this happens elsewhere, I thought these things happened elsewhere. They don't. They happen anywhere and I would urge parents to look into getting some form of self-defence lessons for their children."
Describing Kate's terrifying experience, Hazel said: "Kate had been walking the pup along the main Navan to Slane road before she turned into the estate and noticed someone behind her.Growling
"She knew something wasn't quite right so she texted her friend to say that she thought a man was following her.
"She had turned into the estate near our home when the man overtook her and then turned back to try and grab her.
"Kate saw another man in a car parked nearby. The pup started growling and barking and whatever way the man grabbed her arm, Kate saw an opening and thankfully remembered her kenpo training.
"She kicked him hard in the ribs and he fell back against the car before getting into it and speeding off."
Gardai have confirmed they are investigating the incident.