The scorer of one of the most famous goals in All-Ireland football history has been praised by a judge for his generosity towards a woman whose dangerous driving broke his leg.
Rose Fox (66), of Dawnlea, Rahan Road, Tullamore, Co Offaly, was given a one-year suspended sentence and a four-year driving ban on Monday for dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to former Offaly footballer Seamus Darby on June 11th, 2019.
Mr Darby (70) scored the late winning goal for Offaly in the 1982 All-Ireland senior football final which ended Kerry's bid for five titles in a row. A native of Rhode, he also won All-Irelands in 1971 and 1972.
A sentencing hearing at Tullamore Circuit Court on Monday was told by Det Sgt David Scahill that Ms Fox was driving from Portarlington to Tullamore when she veered off her side of the road at 3.30pm at Annaharvey and collided head-on with Mr Darby's vehicle.
He said conditions were dry at the time, and the collision occurred on a long straight stretch of road.
Ms Fox pleaded guilty to the offence last month and having heard evidence in relation to the circumstances, Judge Keenan Johnson said he was satisfied that a momentary lapse on the part of the accused, brought on by her being tired and causing her to drift into a short sleep, resulted in her losing control and drifting to the incorrect side of the road.
He said he did not fault Ms Fox, stating that everybody with busy lives got into cars without realising exactly how tired they were.
“I know that it has happened to myself on one occasion when I nearly went into a ditch driving from court one particular Friday evening and I drifted off, and it’s only by the grace of God I wasn’t killed.”
He said the impact on Ms Fox had been profound because she suffered physical injuries and post-traumatic stress. She had expressed huge remorse, and had given a heartfelt apology which was accepted by all the victims, in particular Mr Darby.
Mr Darby and one of the children in Ms Fox’s car suffered the most serious injuries. The former Offaly footballer sustained multiple leg fractures, and in a victim impact report he said his concern was for all those involved in the incident and he hoped they all made a full recovery.
“I know he’s a legend in Offaly, and he certainly is a legend in the way he has shown such generosity of spirit and such kindness in the way he has dealt with this,” said the judge.
He prompted laughter in the courtroom when he added: “It’s a mark of the man, and a better mark even than depriving Kerry of the All-Ireland.”
In addition to the one-year suspended sentence and the four-year driving ban, Ms Fox was ordered to pay €1,500 to charity.