John O’Donoghue, who was 15 at the time, was on the family farm near Mitchelstown, Co Cork, when a previously-docile young bull attacked his father, Joe.
The 520kg animal flipped his father into the air like a rag doll, knocked him to the ground and started goring him.
John, who won numerous national and international karate awards, used his martial arts skills to fight the bull off his father. He grabbed the bull around the neck and tugged the ring in his nose to subdue him.
John distracted it long enough for his father to get up, and shouted at his brother, Eugene, 13, to drive their 4x4 to their assistance.
John said when the bull first attacked, his father had told him to run but he was not prepared to stand idly by and watch his father risk getting killed. His father managed to haul himself into the jeep. A split-second later, the bull crashed into the rear of the vehicle and continued to ram it several times, causing extensive damage.
Joe, left battered and bruised, had fractured 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 with fatalities,” the father said.
John will be among a number of young people presented with awards by Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett in Farmleigh House tomorrow.
The incident occurred in June 2013. The following year, John now 18 and studying for his Leaving Cert at Christian Brothers School, Mitchelstown received a bravery award for his actions as part of the Cork North Garda Division Youth Achievement Awards.
He said to be chosen to receive a national award from Comhairle na Mire Gaile was a great honour.
“It’s seems crazy how a split second decision saving my fathers life has earned me awards. But the greatest reward for me is that my dad is still with us,” John said.
His father said: “I am really delighted that John is being recognised for his brave actions. Along with his brother Eugene, he saved me from certain death.”