Team Ireland continue to blaze a trail in Abu Dhabi

  • On the fifth day of competition, Team Ireland’s medal haul has risen to over 60 medals
  • Team Ireland ladies’ basketball team scooped gold in a spectacular final game against Bharat.
  • After several days of heated competition, Team Ireland’s seven-aside football team claimed a bronze medal. 
  • Furthering Team Ireland’s success in the pool, Aisling Beacom from Wicklow swam her way to success with a gold in the 800m freestyle.
  • Runner Alan Power  from Knocklyon, Dublin 16, earned a spot on the podium in the 3000m during his World Games debut

After five days of competition at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, Team Ireland athletes have made a big impression, gathering a massive haul of at least 60 medals, with two days of competition still to go.

The squad are blazing a trail at the Games in a variety of sports, with outstanding performances in athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, swimming and table tennis.

Team Ireland’s ladies’ basketball team have become the latest victors, claiming gold in a stunning 27-15 victory over Bharat.  Athletes Faye Boyd (29), Grace Hamilton (27), Sara Shivas (23) and Sarah Thorne (24), all from Antrim; Gemma O’Keefe (45) and Amy Watters (26) from Bangor, Co. Down; Emma Johnstone (22) from Finglas, Dublin 11; Siobhan McKay from Strabane (27), Co Tyrone, and Sarah Kilmartin (22) and Shauna Stewart (23), both from Athlone, Co. Westmeath, were triumphant after a strong team performance.

Furthering Team Ireland’s success in the water, Aisling Beacom (38) from Wicklow swam her way to success with a gold in the 800m freestyle, smashing her personal best by 50 seconds. Also in the pool, Jack McFadden () from Dublin 15 earned the top spot on the podium with a gold in the 200m breaststroke; Peadar Connolly (32) from Newry, Co. Down and Edel Armstrong (23), Navan Road, Dublin 7 won silver in the 100m freestyle.

Also triumphant after several days of competition were Team Ireland football team, who claimed the bronze medal after winning 7-2 against Estonia. The team featured a strong contingent from Co. Cork, with David Dunlea (27) from Douglas, James Hunter (23) from Mallow, Wayne O’Callaghan (25) from Vickerstown, Thomas O’Herlihy (34) from Churchfield and Steven O’Leary (28) from Fermoy amongst the winners of the day. Dubliners Daniel Byrne (19), from Lucan, Patrick Furlong (19) from Ballyfermot, Dublin 10 and Omer Teko (25) from Walkinstown, Dublin 12; Limerick athletes Lee Curtin (29) from Southill and Brian O’Sullivan (28) from Rathkeale; William McGrath (38) from Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford and Paul Condren (30) from Bray, Co. Wicklow also helped lead the team to victory.

Tenpin Bowling continued for a third and final day of competition, with a gold medal for athletes Gemma Steele (25) from Coleraine, Co. Derry~Londonderry and Aine McDermott (24) from Athenry, Co. Galway in the doubles event; whilst Amy Delaney from Derry city and Rosarie McCarthy (53) from Co. Cork, claimed silver in the same event. Also competing in doubles tenpin bowling, Mark Saddler (28) from Kilcormac, Co. Offaly and Hugh Naughton (36) from Roscommon received a fourth-place ribbon, and Michael Hardiman (29) from Tallaght, Dublin 24 and partner Padraig Reilly (37) from Hollywood, Co. Wicklow received a sixth-place ribbon.

In gymnastics, Team Ireland built on their already impressive performance with two silver medals and a bronze. Laura Rumball (22) from Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin snapped up a silver medal as all-round athlete, after a winning performance in floor exercise; a fourth-place ribbon in vaulting and uneven bars and a fifth-place ribbon in balance beam. Also in gymnastics, Rachael Murray (22) from Rathfarnham Dublin 14 received bronze in the all-round athlete.

Also adding two bronze medals to the growing medal haul was runner Alan Power (50) from Knocklyon, Dublin 16, who earned a spot on the podium in the 3000m and 5000m events during his World Games debut. In table-tennis, Team Ireland have excelled across the board, with a gold medal for Aoife McMahon (39) from Clonakilty, Co. Cork and silver medals from Navan, Co Meath’s Francis Power () and Fiodhna O’Leary (25) from Foxrock, Dublin 18. Aoife McMahon and Fiodhna O’Leary also received a fourth-place ribbon in the doubles event.

Today saw Megan McElherron (18) from Newry, Co. Down competing in her final day of equestrian event, receiving a fourth-place ribbon in dressage, following gold and silver wins earlier this week. Speaking after the awards ceremony, she said: “I was delighted to get out and compete this morning as I was full of excited nerves. The heat and the long days have been tough to deal with, but I was focused on doing the best I could in my events. The horses are beautiful and so is the venue. I’m having a fantastic time and am thankful for everyone’s support.” 

Equestrian Head Coach, Etta Hayes, has also enjoyed a wonderful World Summer Games experience and was proud of the athletes’ efforts. She said: “These Games have been a fantastic experience for all of the athletes, and their pride and determination has shone through this week. The Special Olympics Ireland athletes are also very respectful to their fellow competitors and have been making friends here with athletes from many different countries. They are putting in their best performances and I couldn’t have asked for more!”

Competition is continuing today and into Wednesday, with Team Ireland on course for further success.  Whilst John Doyle (34) from Gorey, Co. Wexford has already secured a bronze medal in badminton, fellow badminton player Sarah Louise Rea (19) from Lisburn, Co. Down is amongst those still in contention for gold; having won all of her matches, she is in the best position to take the top podium spot, however, with one pool match to be played, results will not be confirmed until Wednesday (20th March).

Speaking after her match, Sarah Louise Rea said: “I’m having an amazing time; It’s amazing, it’s thrilling. I’ve been able to come here, play my best and play the game I came here to play and be who I am and not change for anyone else.”

World Games Schedule Wednesday 19th March

As we head in to the final day of competition

The below schedule is in local UAE Time. Abu Dhabi is 4 hours ahead of Dublin.

Please note the schedule is subject to change. For more schedule information you can download the official Games App from your PlayStore and search “World Games Abu Dhabi 2019”

Basketball Time  (Local UAE) Team vs Team
Mens 10.50am Ireland


Football 7 a side Time  (Local UAE)
Kayaking Time  (Local UAE)
Bowling Time  (Local UAE)
Doubles 09:00am
Bocce Time  (Local UAE)
Cyprus v Ireland – doubles men 09:40am
Saudi Arabia v Ireland – doubles men 10:20am
Badminton Time  (Local UAE)
 Singles 10:40am
 Doubles 3:40pm
Mixed 5.00pm
Gymnastics Rhythmic Time  (Local UAE)
Swimming Time  (Local UAE)
100m Breaststroke Jack McFadden 10:48am
4 x 50m Relay 15:38pm
Athletics Time  (Local UAE)
4 x  100m relay TBC


World Game Schedule Tuesday 19th March

The below schedule is in local UAE Time. Abu Dhabi is 4 hours ahead of Dublin.

Please note the schedule is subject to change. For more schedule information you can download the official Games App from your PlayStore and search “World Games Abu Dhabi 2019”

Basketball Time Team vs Team
Female 2.00pm Ireland Bharat
Football 7 a side Time Team vs Team
Male 9am Ireland vs Estonia



Bowling Time (UAE Time)
Mike & Padraig 9.00am
Amy & Roseaire 9.00am
Mark & Hugh 11.30am
Bocce Time (UAE Time)
Doubles v Sudan 9.00am
Doubles v Papua New Guinea 12.20pm
Doubles v China 3.20pm
Doubles v Morocco 4.40pm
Equestrian Time (UAE Time)
Badminton Time (UAE Time)
Sarah Louise – Singles 10.00am
Sarah Louise & Mary – Doubles 3.40pm
Gymnastics Rhythmic Time (UAE Time)
Rachel Murray – Ball, Ribbon, Rope 8.30am
Eimear Gannon – All round 6.30pm
Swimming Time (UAE Time)
200m Backstroke – Peadar Connolly 9.16am
800m Freestyle – Aisling Beacom 10.37am
800m Freestyle – Conor McClorey 12.33pm
100m Freestyle – Emma Carlisle 3.36pm
100m Freestyle – Edel Armstrong 3.44pm
100m Freestyle – Damien Breslin 4.20pm
Table Tennis Time (UAE Time)
Athletics Time (UAE Time)
3000m Alan Power 9.00am
100m – Roy Saville 5.16pm



World Games Schedule Monday 18th March

Team Ireland certainly celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in style with medals and personal bests and the competition continues again today.

The below schedule is in local UAE Time. Abu Dhabi is 4 hours ahead of Dublin.

Please note the schedule is subject to change. For more schedule information you can download the official Games App from your PlayStore and search “World Games Abu Dhabi 2019”


Kayaking Time (Local UAE)
Fergal  Gregory & Oisin Ferry 09:20am
Deirde O’Calllaghan 10:10am
Michelle O’Keane 10:20am
Fergal Gregory 1:00pm
Oisin Ferry 2:00pm
Deirde O’Calllaghan & Michelle O’Keane 2:30pm
Bowling Time (Local UAE)
doubles 11:30am
Bocce Time (Local UAE)
Syria v Ireland 11:00am
Egypt v Ireland 11:40am
Ireland V Palestine 4:30pm
Equestrian Time (Local UAE)
Lee Mitchell 11:45am
Connor Byrne 12:00pm
Badminton Time (Local UAE)
Algeria v Ireland 3:00pm
Ireland V Hellas 5:00pm
Gymnastics Artistic Time (Local UAE)
Ball ribbon , rope – Rachel Murray 8:30am
John Keenan – Vault 1:00pm
Eimear Gannon – all around 6:30pm
Swimming Time (Local UAE)
Emma Barrett (200m breast stroke) 3:55pm
Peader Connolly (200m Breast stroke) 4:33pm
Jack Mc Fadden ( 200m breast Stroke) 4:40pm
Table Tennis Time (Local UAE)
Ireland V Hellas 10:30am
Ireland V Tunisia 11:30am
Ireland V UAE 2pm
Ireland V Egypt 3pm
Athletics Time  (Local UAE)
400m final – Bendan Mc Guire 11:40am
Pent High Jump – Connor Meade 9:50am
400m walk – Katie Dillion 3:30pm
400m Walk – Gary O’Sullivan 3:40pm
Soft ball throw – Shannon Nixon 3:20pm

World Games Schedule Sunday 17th

The days are flying by and Team Ireland are going from strength to strength. As the world celebrates St. Patrick’s Day Team Ireland have a busy day of competition ahead of them.

The below schedule is in local UAE Time. Abu Dhabi is 4 hours ahead of Dublin.

Please note the schedule is subject to change. For more schedule information you can download the official Games App from your PlayStore and search “World Games Abu Dhabi 2019”

Basketball Time (Local UAE) Team vs  Team
Male Basketball 11:50am Ireland vs France
Female Basketball 11:50am Ireland vs Egypt
Football 7 a side Time (Local UAE) Team vs Team
Match 10:30 Ireland vs Aruba


Golf Time (Local UAE)
Simon Lowry – Divisioning 8:50am
Simon Lowry – Divisioning 8:50am
Ireland v United States 9:20am
Ireland v Netherlands 9:40am
John Keating – Divisioning 10:10am
Jill Connery – Divisioning 12:10pm
Bowling Time (Local UAE)
Singles 9:00am
Doubles 4:00pm
Bocce Time (Local UAE)
Ireland v Iraq 9:00am
Ireland v Morocco 10:20am
Female Singles 9am
Badminton Time (Local UAE)
Ireland v Singapore Womens Singles – Sarah Louise 11:20am
Ireland v UAE Mens Singles – John Doyle 11:20am
Kayaking Time (Local UAE)
Postponed until 18th March due to high winds
Swimming Time (Local UAE)
Emma Barrett 200m 9:13am
Emma Carlisle 200m 9:13am
Edel Armstrong 200m 9:25am
Jack McFadden 200m 10:25am
Table Tennis Time (Local UAE)
Athletics Time (Local UAE)
Brendan Maguire – 1500m 8:30am
Gary O’Sullivan – Shot Put 10:20am
Shannon Nixon – 25m 10:39am
Katie Dillon – Shot Put 3:20pm
Conor Meade – Pentathlon Long Jump 3:30pm
Roy Saville – 200m 5:40pm
Conor Meade – Pentathlon Shot 5:55pm

World Games Schedule Saturday 16th March

Team Ireland got off to a flying start on Friday and there is more excitement to come as we look to the events for Saturday.

The below schedule is in local UAE Time. Abu Dhabi is 4 hours ahead of Dublin.

Please note the schedule is subject to change. For more schedule information you can download the official Games App from your PlayStore and search “World Games Abu Dhabi 2019”





Spectacular Opening Ceremony signals the start of the World Games

After a spectacular and electrifying opening ceremony the World Summer Games 2019 are now officially open!

The ceremony took place at the Zayed Sports City where the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces officially welcomed more than 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches, representing 200 nations, for seven days of incredible Olympic-style sports and a celebration of the human spirit.

Thousands of family, dignitaries and supporters filled the stadium to welcome the athletes and and stars including Avril Lavigne and Luis Fonsi provided the soundtrack to the night. Including a thrilling rendition of the official World Games anthem ‘Right Where I’m Supposed To Be’ for the very first time.

With the voices of hundreds of children still echoing around the stadium, thousands of Special Olympics athletes entered the arena.

Legendary British DJ Paul Oakenfold electrified the stadium with his world-famous selection of uplifting house music and entertained athletes as they walked and danced into the arena.

Team Ireland received a rousing cheer from the stands as they entered, led by Clare native Mairead Moroney, one of the oldest athletes to compete at the Games this week.

Their pre-Ceremony celebrations were just as energetic and were enjoyed by Special Olympics USA!


Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics, delivered a heartfelt and inspirational message to the UAE and the world.

 “You have won the most important race already; yes you will compete, and yes you will prove yourselves and yes, you will take home medals but please know, by your open hearts and freedom, you have already changed the course of history; by your competitive spirit, you have already changed the face of sport; and by marshalling the energies of love and sharing them with us all, you  have already won the gold medals.”

One of the last ceremonial aspects of the show was the arrival of the Flame of Hope, carried by athletes from all seven continents and officers from the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, the torch circled the stadium as a festival of Emirati cultural performances, traditions and dances were played out on center stage.

To a heart-pounding drum beat, the crowd watched displays of UAE traditions, such as the sharing of gahwa coffee, as the torch was passed from runner to runner, each igniting their own symbolic flame.

The runners then gathered around a cauldron to light the Special Olympics flame that will burn for the duration of the World Games.

As the Special Olympics Flame burned brightly and the official anthem filled the air, the final curtain was brought down on a spectacular Opening Ceremony that signaled the beginning of seven days of incredible sport, human endeavor and unity.


Team Ireland are in action today in many sports and the full schedule is available here 

Photos from the Opening Ceremony are on the Special Olympics Ireland Facebook Page and please continue to share all of your Games moments and stories on our social channels

Facebook       @SpecialOlympicsIreland
Twitter            @SOIreland
Instagram       @specialolympicsireland
LinkedIn          SpecialOlympics Ireland

#TeamIreland  #PlayYourPart  #AbuDhabi2019

World Games Schedule Friday 15th March

With the spectacle of the Opening Ceremony on Thursday evening all eyes now turn to competition. The below schedule is in local UAE Time. Abu Dhabi is 4 hours ahead of Dublin.

Please note the schedule is subject to change. For more schedule information you can download the official Games App from your PlayStore and search “World Games Abu Dhabi 2019”

Schedule for Friday 15th March 

And they are off!! Team Ireland depart for Abu Dhabi

There were exciting scenes at Dublin Airport on Thursday as 91 athletes from right across Ireland got set to jet off to Abu Dhabi for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

The athletes gathered in the airport from early morning with their family and friends before walking through a guard of honour from their loved ones and boarding their flight, with dreams of success in their various sports.

Before their departure many of the Team did interviews with local papers, radio and TV and many of them spoke about the pride of representing Team Ireland and excitement of what lays ahead.

With 350 family and friends also making the trip to support their loved ones, Ireland is set to be one of the best supported nations at the Games. Second only to the United States, this wealth of encouragement is certain to give Team Ireland the edge as they step up to compete.

Team Ireland will compete in 12 sports: athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, swimming and table tennis. The athletes’ selection comes after three years of training and competition, preparing them for their biggest sporting challenge to date.

Team Ireland are currently preparing for their World Games experience with a visit to Dubai as part of the Host Town programme. During this time, the athletes have an opportunity to acclimatise to their surroundings with a range of cultural events and activities before the official Opening Ceremony on Thursday 14 March.

The Opening Ceremony, which will take place at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium, is set to be a spectacular celebration of humanity at its best. More than 40,000 spectators will witness 170 nations take place in a celebratory parade, with the athletes being accompanied by a number of international celebrities including singer and Special Olympics Global Ambassador, Nicole Scherzinger.

We will be providing regular updates from Team Ireland right here on on our social media channels so stay tuned and make sure to tag us in your photos as we celebrate these incredible athletes!

For all the photos from the Team Departure Click Here

Link to Newstalk coverge

Irish Times coverage coverage



Athletes to officiate at World Games

In addition to the athletes and coaches participation in the Games, Special Olympics Ireland is also represented by 15 officials. They will join other officials from countries across the world to ensure best practice of having international representation for officials and judging positions. The 8 Special Olympics Ireland officials will officiate the following sports:  athletics, badminton, basketball, bowling, equestrian, gymnastics, judo and volleyball.

There are also  2 International Technical Officials who have been selected to travel to the Games. They are the final authority in the sport in relation to sports rules and the application of the general rules of Special Olympics. The two technical officials from Ireland will work in basketball and bowling.

There is also an IT expert travelling to support the host Local Organising Committee to manage and collate the results, a key role in the success of this prestigious sporting event.

We are honoured to have 5 athletes qualify to act as table officials in basketball. Philomena O’Hare, Andrew Byrne, Fiona Brady, Denis O’Gorman and George Fitzgerald are all fully qualified officials through Basketball Ireland and actively officiate at matches in Ireland, both Special Olympics and mainstream. They will be joined by fully qualified mentors who will support them during the Games.

It is an honour to have these athletes officiate at the Games, even more so when Special Olympics Ireland are only one of two programmes worldwide to have athletes selected to these positions.

It is testament to the dedication of the work and commitment of the athletes, club coaches, governing bodies and Special Olympics Ireland to enable the athletes to take on such an important role.


Best of luck to all the officials selected to officiate at World Games Abu Dhabi!

Athletics Pauline Nugent
Badminton Catherine Dolphin
Badminton Daniel Hurley
Basketball Mary Phelan
Equestrian Roseleen Barry
Equestrian Brid Keegan
Equestrian Shirley MacDermott
Gymnastics (Artistic) Liam O’Toole
Judo James Mulroy
Volleyball Pamela O’Donnell
Basketball Athlete Official Philomena O’Hare
Basketball Athlete Official Andrew Byrne
Basketball Athlete Official Fiona Brady
Basketball Athlete Official Denis O’Gorman
Basketball Athlete Official George Fitzgerald
Basketball Mentor Ronan O’Flynn
Basketball Mentor Deborah McArdle
Basketball Mentor Megan Garry
Basketball Mentor Mary Davitt
IT/ Games Management System Pat Doherty
Basketball Technical Delegate Bernie Priestley
Bowling Technical Delegate Elaine Twomey