Five weeks after she could have been killed in a firecracker incident in Barrack Street, talented Cork soccer player Lya Gilhooly made her return to the pitch yesterday, scoring a goal for her Presentation Secondary School team.
Lya was injured on October 7 when a firecracker went off in her hand. She was hospitalised for three weeks, losing four fingers on her left hand.
She also had an operation under her chin and had damage to her eyes, but remarkably she is back playing and the future remains bright for this talented youngster from Ballyphehane.
Lya played the full 60 minutes against Carrigtowhill and incredibly scored the school's only goal in their 2-1 defeat. It was her first time back in action since the accident, playing with her left hand strapped.
The 14-year-old was delighted to be back playing and received a guard of honour from her teammates.
"I'm delighted to be back playing with my friends," said Lya.
"It was also a great boost for me to be welcomed back by my friends, the way they did. I am now looking forward to getting back training with my club Wilton and hopefully back involved with Cork City in a few weeks time.
Her teacher Ms Drummond was thrilled to have Lya back playing and smiling again.
"Lya was a wonderful asset to our team today and scored a super goal," said Drummond. It was great to see her back playing and doing what she loves."
Watching from the sideline was her nan Ann Gilhooly, who has been fantastic to Lya, and in particular for the past few weeks. Anne was thrilled and so proud as she watched her granddaughter almost help her school to victory.
"I am delighted to see Lya back playing football, " said Anne. "That's all she dreams about. She absolutely loves playing soccer and hopefully this will give her huge confidence to return playing with her club Wilton and also to pursue her dream to go on and play with Cork City in the National league."
"She is an amazing kid. She has been through a very tough time but we are all very proud of her. You can see from the smile on her face that soccer is all the matters to Lya and seeing Lya back amongst her friends is great. I am delighted to see her back playing and I was thrilled with the reception her teammates and coaches gave to her."