Saturday 21 April 2018

Darragh joins the pantheon of local sporting heroes


A FEW weeks ago 'Trending' looked at some real Wexford heroes. Athletes taking part at the highest level of competition against the very best in the world. Gráinne and Adam. Of course Billy the coach.

Their legend is such that, in this county, they now go by just the one name. Like Barack, like Tiger and like Lance. Actually scratch that last one, certainly like Barack and like Tiger. Now Wexford, Gorey in particular, has a new one-name hero.

You see, our Olympic stars of a few weeks ago had to make huge personal sacrifices to get to where they are. But their endeavours pale in comparison to men and women who have had to overcome physical hindrances to become a champion.

I purposely use the word 'hindrance'. The more common ' disability' suggests an inability to do something, the dictionary defines it as ' lack of adequate power, strength, or physical or mental ability; incapacity'. If there is anything the Paralympics teaches us it's that these men and women may be hindered but they still excel to an exceptional level. Words like 'lack' and ' incapacity' are insulting. They are an inspiration. We now have a Darragh.

The tributes poured in on Twitter for our newest member of the club, both before and after his gold medal heroics. Laura Murphy (@ lauramurphy_) tweeted prior to the gold medal race: ' Delighted for Darragh Mcdonald. He is bringing home the gold Ireland definitely...he's in my English class #justsaying delighted'. Of course, Laura's prediction proved to be correct and plenty more plaudits followed.

'To have one full arm and no legs to be a world champion in swimming...that's what you call inspiration...Darragh McDonald be proud,' tweeted Shane Riordan (@ theshaneriordan), while New York-based Dubliner Eva Scanlan (@ thatevaone) followed: ' Holy schmoly, Darragh McDonald not only won gold, but took 7 SECONDS off his PB time set this morning! Amazing! #paralympics #teamireland.'

Some tweets might not have been as large in size but they certainly matched the sentiment. Columnist Jennifer O'Connell (@ jenoconnell) tweeted: 'Just watched Darragh McDonald interviewed. He is an absolute hero. #paralympicsire', while Dan Laydon (@ danlaydon) simply shared: ' Darragh McDonald. Absolute inspirational hero'. Finally, Offaly man David Pollard (@ DavidPollard89) followed a similar feeling with 'Darragh McDonald is a hero. #Irishlegend'.

We can't possibly finish this week without also mentioning our final Olympian heroine. Catherine O'Neill may have finished fourth in the club throw competition, which got a little overshadowed by Darragh's exploits, but it's a superb performance on its own.


It's a first for 'Trending' this week. It's the first time this column has had the opportunity of electing an Olympic champion as its 'Tweet of the Week' recipient.

Just a few hours after Gorey's golden guy stepped out of the pool, he tweeted (@ Darragh_McD): 'Thank you everyone for your support. All I can say is this medal belongs as much to my support team as it does to me'. The true definition, as the motto says, of 'spirit in motion'.