Local athletes to light up the World Games stage

THE curtain goes up on the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi with the opening ceremony taking place today at the Zayed Sports City Stadium before the week-long competition starts tomorrow (Friday).

Team Ireland are there in force with 91 athletes from right across Ireland poised to compete in 12 sports: athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, swimming and table tennis.

Team Ireland Depart for SO WSG 3

Their numbers are bolstered by more than 100 volunteers together with some 400 supporters as they take their place among 7000 Special Olympics athletes, representing 170 nations.

United Warriors FC, Palmerstown Wildcats Basketball Club and South Dublin Special Olympics Club are among some of the local clubs who will be represented by several members.

The former will boast three players, namely Daniel Byrne from Lucan, Ballyfermot’s Patrick Furlong and Omer Teko from Walkinstown on the Team Ireland football panel that will compete in 7-a-side competition.

While both Byrne and Furlong are new to the World Games stage, Teko has competed at this level before when he travelled to Los Angeles back in 2015.

Palmerstown Wildcats are no strangers to World Games competition and will supply the Ireland squad with four players including Jamie Ennis from Clondalkin, Lucan’s Stephen Murphy and Oisin Gilmartin from Palmerstown as well as Laois man Keith Murphy who also trains with the club.

South Dublin Special Olympics Club, which like all other such groups is centred on inclusivity, will also be represented on this basketball team by Tallaght trio Thomas Coyle, Geoffrey Curley and Sean Winder.

Indeed those three competitors are part of the biggest contingent to ever represent South Dublin SO with a further three members also named in the Team Ireland panel.

Alan Power from Knocklyon will compete in athletics while Eimear Gannon from Templeogue and Rathfarnham’s Rachel Murray account for the only two rhythmic gymnasts that Ireland will have in action in Abu Dhabi.

Sally Duffy from Tallaght will compete in the Equestrian field while in Golf, Templeogue’s John Keating and Phyl Kelleher from Rathfarnham will also be flying the flag for Ireland with Tallaght man Michael Hardiman of South Dublin Strikers doing likewise in Tenpin Bowling.

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