Tuesday 23 October 2018

Woman says car crash forced her to give up professional jockey dream

Shirley McCarthy from Oulart, Co. Wexford pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after the opening day of her High Court action for damages. Pic: Collins Courts
Shirley McCarthy from Oulart, Co. Wexford pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after the opening day of her High Court action for damages. Pic: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A woman who claims her dream of becoming a professional jockey was dashed when she injured her back  in a car crash has sued in the High Court.

Shirley McCarthy told the court she can’t stand longer than five minutes because of the back pain which she claims she has suffered since the 2009 road crash."

“I just wanted to be a professional jockey. I lived for racing, that was it,” she told Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon.

The court heard Ms McCarthy, who worked in a horse trainer's yard before the crash, claimed she had not worked with horses since 2012.

However in cross examination, she admitted she had ridden some older horses in the trainers yard since the accident and another horse about five times last year and had galloped on the beach just last week.

Ms McCarthy, Kyle Meadows, Oulart, Co Wexford has sued Edward Matthews, Moneyhere, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford as a result of the accident on the Enniscorthy-Oulart Road on December 20, 2009.

It was claimed Mr Matthews' car came around a bed on the wrong side of the road and crashed in to Ms McCarthy's car in a head on collision.

Ms Justice O’Hanlon was told liability was admitted in-the case which was before the court for assessment of damages only.

Ms McCarthy fractured her 6th  thoracic vertebra and suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck and right arm and says she still suffers from severe lower back pain.

Ms McCarthy told the court her plan had been to turn professional and she had already one race win at the time of the accident.

She said after the accident she went back to work in the horse trainer’s yard but her back was killing her and she could not muck out. She said the accident also affected her confidence and she only rode the older horses.

She said she was afraid of riding out and racing and "the fear finished me".

She said the last horse she rode was in April 2012 which was her own mare at a meeting in Clonmel but she could not hold her.

Cross examined by Jeremy Maher SC, for Mr Matthews, Ms McCarthy said she had not worked with horses since May 2012 but said she had gone on a ride out and galloped a horse on the beach last week. She said she had a smile on her  face for,the first time in a long time.

She also told the court she had been riding older horses at the trainer’s yard a couple of times and said it was "a hobby now and again" and she would do it "once a month depending on how the back was."

Mr Maher said his side will show a video of Ms McCarthy riding months after they were told she had to give up.

Ms McCarthy said there was a massive difference riding at racing level.

Counsel referring to the riding Ms McCarthy had done since the accident said it was a lot of horses. Ms McCarthy replied:

"Not really I did not do it in a daily basis."

The case continues.

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