Ireland's Paralympic equestrian team ready to ride into history books in london
THIS past weekend in Hartpury proved a busy one for the recently-named Paralympic team of Eilish Byrne (Youri) (right), James Dwyer (Orlando), Helen Kearney (Mister Cool) and Gerry Savage (Blues Tip Top Too), as they began their preparations ahead of their London debut.
Just over a week ago, the quartet were unveiled as Ireland's first equestrian team to line out at a Paralympic Games.
There were, perhaps, some raised eyebrows at the choice of the selectors, but chef d'equipe Dara Kearney had to closely examine recent results and look at the bigger picture.
She said: "Obviously, it is very disappointing for the riders who did not make the team and it was a very close call with some riders missing out very narrowly.
"On behalf of the whole squad, I'd like to thank everyone who supported us on our journey to this milestone."
Just 12 months ago at Hartpury, Ireland were the team everyone was talking about, with a second-place finish kicking off a tremendous few months.
This was underlined in September, when history was made as Helen won Ireland's first ever medal, a bronze, at the European Championships in Moorsele, Belgium. Another win followed for the rider in March, 2012, in Deauville, France.
As a Grade 1a rider, Helen is categorised as 'most disabled', but she is incredibly determined and the 23-year-old's maturity belies her years.