Local Special Olympics stars shine

A HUGE number of athletes, representing local clubs, made their mark on what was a memorable 2018 Special Olympics Ireland Games.

Launched in Tallaght Stadium last Thursday, the games ran over the following three days with some 1600 athletes taking part in one of the largest and most prestigious sporting events to take place in Ireland this year.

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A total of 2144 medals (959 gold, 667 silver and 518 bronze) were awarded over the weekend with countless personal bests achieved by athletes from each of the five regions – Connacht, Eastern, Leinster, Munster and Ulster.

Palmerstown Wildcats Basketball Club proved one of the most successful local Special Olympics clubs in the Games, accounting for 13 gold, two silver and three bronze.

United Warriors photo

Among their members who made the podium were LA World Games gold medallists Michelle Stynes and Anne Marie Cooney who picked up gold and bronze respectively over the weekend.

Also, topping the podium for Team Eastern were Lauren Campbell, Tekhisti Abbay, Anita Forde, Louise Day, Lorcan Byrne, Edward Barr, Michael Mahon, David Carrig, Oisin Gilmartin, Jamie Ennis, Stephen Murphy and Keith Murphy.

South Dublin Athletics team

Lorna Murdiff and Christopher Lyons emerged runners-up in their divisions while Alannah Connolly and Shannon Corrigan also earned bronze.

In football, United Warriors Special Olympics Club in Rathcoole boasted representation on three of the four sides fielded by Team Eastern.

Daniel Byrne, Omer Keke and Thomas Caulfield were among those who won silver at Level One while Stephen Fagan, Craig Smith, Josh Hennessy, Stephen Travers, Daniel Curtain and Paddy Graham took the same colour at Level Four and Eoin Gouldsbury won bronze with the Level Two side.

It was a great occasion for United Warriors manager Tony Rooney who was head of the Team Eastern football division and manager of the Level Four side while his son Phillip coached the Level Two outfit.

In what marked the first time an Open Water Swimming event was incorporated into the Special Olympics Ireland Games, Keith Butler of Viking Swim Club came home in first place.

Butler also competed in the pool, taking silver in the 800m Freestyle with clubmate Eoin Tully picking up bronze.

It did not stop there for the Viking Club with Maeve Phillips picking up gold in the 25m Butterfly and relay as well as silver in the 50m Breastsroke, Anthony Casey taking gold in 100m Freestyle and bronze in 200m Freestyle, Lorcan Tully winning gold in 100m Backstroke and silver in 100m and 200m Freestyle before Sarah Carroll took gold in the 50m Fly and fourth in the 50m Freestyle.

Tallaght Tornadoes Special Olympics Bowling Club fielded four members in the Games and also had plenty to celebrate by the close of proceedings.

Both Nicholas Goodey and Kehinde Sanni emerged double gold medal winners in the singles and team competition while Christopher Clarke picked up silver and bronze and Annemarie Condron earned fourth and fifth place ribbons.

And there was bowling success also for Metro South Special Olympics with Rachel Coss and Caoimhe Mahady taking first place in singles and team event.

Their clubmates Stephen Core, Niamh Jordan, Rachel Kearney, Alex Dunne, Rachel Coen, Keith Doyle and Ross O’Neill also turned in great performances to pick up medals.

South Dublin Special Olympics Club fielded participants in athletics, basketball, equestrian and gymnastics with some excellent results.

South Dublin gymnasts Rachel Murray and Eimear Gannon certainly made their mark in the Rhythmic Gymnastics field with the former picking up one gold (rope) and two silver (ribbon and ball routine) and the latter scooping two gold (rope and club routine) and one silver (ball routine).

In athletics, the club captured a total of eight gold, two silver and five bronze individual medals together with silver and bronze in team relay events.

Indeed, Tim Morahan, Alan Power, Stephen Conway, Sean Cleary, Barry Cryan, Kevin Wynne, Damien Byrne, Bridge Doyle, Jonathan Smyth, Marthy Donoghue, Ethan Browne and Kenneth Quigley all made the podium over the weekend.

Sean Winder from Tallaght, together with Geoffrey Curley, Thomas Coyle and Mark Maher were among South Dublin basketball players who won gold for Team Eastern.

Golfer Donal Brennan won bronze in nine-hole competition with Ashwin Maliyakal doing likewise in English Equitation Dressage before also taking fourth place in Working Trails.

Also in equestrian competition, held in Cherry Orchard Equine Centre, Tallaght’s Sally Duffy returned home with gold and silver from the Games which saw her brother Mark also scoop bronze in football.

Stewarts Care’s Tommy Gibbons did his bit for Team Eastern, winning silver and bronze medals in Equestrian.

Indeed, Stewart’s Care was superbly represented across the athletics, equestrian, swimming and motor activities fields, with their athletes combining for a massive haul of 17 gold, five silver, six bronze and 12 ribbons.

Speisialta Special Olympics Club in Clondalkin saw some of their members take their share with Darren Tracy and Karl Islam both silver medallists in football with Joey Cunningham, Bernard Dunne and Conor McGuirk picking up bronze.

In badminton, Speisialta’s Joe Ennis won gold in doubles and silver in singles while Jonathan Deering captured bronze in mixed.

Speaking at the close of the Games Matt English, CEO, Special Olympics Ireland, said: “A huge thank you to each and every volunteer who went above and beyond their roles this weekend to make sure that our athletes had the time of their lives.

“And to our athletes, you are the reason for everything we do and it's no less than you deserve, I hope you are going home happy and proud,” he added.

Special Olympics Ireland is a year-round sports training and competition programme for people with an intellectual disability.

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