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'It put it into huge perspective' - freak injury to defender spurring Nemo on in Munster bid

Paul Kerrigan on Nemo’s motivation after Cian McWhinney’s injury.

AIB GAA Club Championship Provincial Finals Media Day Paul Kerrigan at today's AIB Munster senior club football final media day. Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

CHASING A MUNSTER senior football title is no novelty for Nemo Rangers, the club has enjoyed 15 triumphs in their storied history.

Next Sunday is the latest opportunity to bring silverware back to their Trabeg base and they have a cause to succeed with one of the figures that helped them get this far in 2017, having to watch on from the sidelines.

Only eight minutes had elapsed in their county final replay success over St Finbarr’s when corner-back Cian McWhinney suffered a freak injury after a collision and was left temporarily paralysed.

Cian McWhinny receives medical attention Nemo Rangers defender Cian McWhinney receiving medical attention. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

McWhinney was rushed to hospital and managed to regain some movement later that night. He may be not be in action on the pitch but in the Nemo Rangers squad they are thankful he is on the road to recovery.

“I didn’t think it was a huge collision and then on the tape after it wasn’t a huge collision either, he was just blindsided and there was a clash of three or four bodies,” recalls Kerrigan.

“Just the way he was lying, he just wasn’t moving at all. He was flat out on his back, arms by his side.

“It was a scary enough thing alright. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen something like that. Hopefully the last.

“When the ref stopped play we would have spoken about it there briefly and briefly at half-time.

“And then after the game straight away we were asking what was happening.

“The doctor had been on to his mother a lot and it came through that by the end of the game he could feel his two arms and one of his legs. And then we heard he could feel his two legs as well so there was a bit of a relief.

“Winning made it easier for us and for him too really. He has a county medal out of it, he started the county final and played the whole first game.

“The lads brought the cup up to him then and he actually showed up in Nemo later that evening for a bit. It put it into huge perspective. For a young guy like that, it could have been taken away from him.

The Nemo team celebrates after the game Nemo Rangers players celebrating their Cork senior final replay win. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“(He’s) definitely making progress. I think his legs are going pretty good, it’s just his upper body that’s taking a bit more time to come back. Things like his grip, and tiredness kicks in a bit after a while.

“Just to have him around is pretty good as well. He’s a very nice young fella and it would be a bit of a driving cause (for us).”

The triumph against St Finbarr’s secured a seventh Cork senior football medal for Kerrigan and he has three Munster accolades as well.

But with plenty of those honours front-loaded at the start of his playing career, the current progress is to be savoured and the chance to pit themselves against Dr Crokes.

“Definitely you’d appreciate it. We were really focused on the Clonmel game a couple of years ago and I thought we would have gone a long way there in the All-Ireland series.

“That was the worst defeat I was ever involved in. We were behind for spells in the game, took over for the last 20 minutes.

“They didn’t really get a sniff for the last 20 minutes and then, third minute of injury time, long ball in, goal, and game over. It was gut-wrenching to be fair.

“So, yeah, really looking forward to it. It’s the last game of the year for everyone and it’s really something to focus on and put the year’s work in perspective.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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