Woman sues school over hockey injury to ankle

A woman who slipped and hurt her ankle three years ago when she went to retrieve a hockey ball that had gone out of play has sued in the High Court for damages.

Ailbhe Cole, 22, leaving the Four Courts yesterday. Picture: Collins Courts

Ailbhe Cole was a Leaving Cert student at Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, Killiney, Dublin, and was training and playing hockey, it is alleged, in near darkness after school on a winter’s evening when the accident happened.

Ms Cole, who is now studying pharmacology at University College Dublin, said the students were playing hockey on a grit surface and there was no flood-lighting at the pitch.

She told the court she loved sport, but since the accident she has not been able to play any sport.

She also told Mr Justice Raymond Fullam she can not wear high heels since the accident and had to wear sparkly runners to her debs after her Leaving Certificate exams.

Ms Cole, now aged 22, of O’Rourke Park, Sallynoggin, Dublin, has sued Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny, Ballinclea Rod, Killiney, as a result of the accident on November 19, 2012.

She has claimed there was an alleged failure to install sufficient lighting for the playing field and that hockey had been, allegedly, allowed to be played in the absence of sufficient lighting.

It was further claimed the ground around the kerb area of the pitch was allegedly slippery.

The claims are denied and the school contends hockey training only occurred light permitting.

Opening the case Ms Cole’s counsel Paul Burns SC said the school had since got new facilities and a pitch in 2014. He said Ms Cole, who was a captain of the school hockey team, had gone after the ball when it went out of play. She threw back the ball onto the pitch and she slipped on a muddy surface, with her ankle hitting the rim of the pitch. He said she suffered chronic injuries. She later had to have surgery to have screws inserted in the ankle. Counsel said she has been left with pain and poor balance.

Counsel said Ms Cole had to cancel her plans to go out on her 18th birthday, which came in the weeks after her fall. Counsel said it was his side’s case that the hockey team were playing in near darkness.

In evidence, Ms Cole said the ground was wet and the light was bad that evening

She said she was devastated when she could not play sport anymore and she now can not do something she loves.

Hockey coach Stephanie Murphy said the school pitch at the time was shale and grit. She said that, in winter, the session would finish at 5pm and she was sure of that, as it would be getting dark and would be unsafe. She said she always put the safety of the players and students first.

The case continues before Mr Justice Fullam.

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