Tuesday 22 October 2019

Excitement: Special Olympians given big send-off

Fergal Gregory holds a sign with fellow Olympians and coaches. Photo: Mark Condren
Fergal Gregory holds a sign with fellow Olympians and coaches. Photo: Mark Condren
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

Nerves and excitement filled Dublin Airport as Team Ireland's Special Olympics squad jetted off to the World Games in Abu Dhabi.

Some 91 athletes boarded their planes and were waved off by hundreds of supporters and family members.

The footballers had been given a few tips by Niall Quinn last week, while the golfers were treated to a clinic with Padraig Harrington. For many, it was a first time to participate in the World Games.

Golfer John Keating (36), from Knocklyon, has volunteered at the Games on a couple of occasions but previous work commitments meant he couldn't commit to the training. He said working with Harrington was "amazing".

"I learned a lot and took all of his advice on board. It will help me hugely in my game, but I've worked hard on my game as well," he said.

The football team also head out with high hopes of achieving. Irrespective of the opposition, the players say they expect to be one of the strongest sides out there.

Stephen O'Leary (29), from Fermoy, Co Cork, said it's been a long few weeks waiting. "It's an amazing opportunity, I may never get this again so I'm just going to try and cherish it and hopefully have a good time."

Special Olympian Eimear Gannon with gymnastic coaches Nicole Mckervey and Angela Griffin. Photo: Mark Condren
Special Olympian Eimear Gannon with gymnastic coaches Nicole Mckervey and Angela Griffin. Photo: Mark Condren
Michael Hardiman with nieces Millie (3) and Sophie (8). Photo: Mark Condren
Michael Hardiman with nieces Millie (3) and Sophie (8). Photo: Mark Condren

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