John O’Donoghue, 16, was on the family farm near Mitchelstown, Co Cork, last June when a previously docile young bull attacked his father, Joe.
The youngster — who has won numerous national and international karate titles and will be representing Ireland at May’s European Championships in Germany — immediately jumped to his father’s aid after the 520kg beast knocked him to the ground and gored him.
Using martial arts skills he’d learnt he weighed into the bull and then “grabbed him around the neck and pulled the ring in his nose to subdue him”.
He distracted the bull long enough for his father to get up and John roared at his brother, Eugene, 13, to drive their 4x4 to their assistance.
“Dad told me to run to it but as I did I saw the bull then toss him up in the air and he again gored him. I started grappling with the bull until my father got to the jeep and then I ran and jumped head first into the back of it,” John said.
His father, 47, said that within a split second the bull crashed into the rear of the 4x4 and then rammed it several times more, damaging it extensively.
Joe was left battered and bruised, broke a small bone in the base of his spine and spent 10 days in bed.
“The bull went savage. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the actions of my sons. Nine out of 10 bull attacks end up in fatalities,” Joe said.
Meanwhile, Adam Horgan, 15, from Little Island, Co Cork, was honoured for saving a mother and her 10-year-old son from certain drowning after the tide swept them out from a Youghal beach last summer.
He noticed Vicky Morey getting into difficulty when she tried to rescue her son, Evan, and dragged them safely back to shore.
Vicky, who is from Dromina in north Cork, said she later traced the humble youngster and their families have since become firm friends.
“He was dressed all in white that day, like an angel. Adam deserves all the praise he can get and this award is fitting.”
She said that without his heroics there was little doubt they’d have drowned. “He’s a lovely boy, one of the good guys.”
The boys were among nine individual award winners and two group winners announced last night at the Cork North Garda Division Youth Achievement Awards, which were held at Mallow GAA Club.
Chief Superintendent Gerard Dillane said he was honoured to be in their company.
“They represent everything good and honourable among young people today. If they are indicative of the generation which will soon take control of this country then I can tell you society will be in very capable hands,” the senior garda said.