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paralympics within grasp of irish team

For the first time ever, Ireland could be in with a chance of sending an equestrian team to the Paralympics at London 2012.

Currently lying sixth in the world for para-equestrian sport, Ireland's chances of securing a Paralympic qualification were significantly boosted by an outstanding performance at the three-star international competition at Deauville, France, in April. Exceptional performances by Eilish Byrne, Helen Kearney, Rosemary Gaffney, Angela Lyons and Kathryn Wheelock saw Ireland take third place in the first of three 2012 qualifying events to be held this year.

The next two qualifying events take place at Hartpury in England on July 11-15 and at Moorselles, Belgium, on September 1-5. In order to secure a qualifying spot for London 2012, Ireland must stay in the top 11 countries in the world.

As chef d'equipe Naomi O'Donoghue says, Ireland are on the brink of a breakthrough.

"We've never had so many top riders in para-equestrian before, and compared with the funding that other countries put into the sport, what our athletes achieve is truly, truly remarkable," she says.

Ireland's location, lower population and smaller dressage base has put us at a disadvantage against well-funded nations such as Denmark and Britain.

Despite this, our riders have put us on track to achieve Paralympic qualification and Para-Equestrian Ireland is now seeking patrons for the Irish team with a view to 2012.

For more details contact Naomi O'Donoghue on 086 7764746 or

I spoke to the six riders on the panel for potential selection for the London 2012 Irish team to find out more about them ...

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