Athletics: Ones to watch in 2019


In December  Irish Runner published their Annual Yearbook and featured the 8 athletics stars of Team Ireland as “ones to watch for 2019”. We could not agree more! Below is the article that featured just in case you missed it.


This March eight athletes from across Ireland will take to the athletics track to represent Team Ireland at the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019.

This is the first time that the World Games have taken place in the Middle East and North Africa region playing host to 7,000 athletes from over 170 countries. 91 Special Olympics Ireland athletes will compete in 12 different sports at these Games which run from March 14th to 22nd 2019. They will be supported by a 30 strong coaches and management team and nearly 90 volunteers from Ireland.

The athletics team will travel from the Opening Ceremony in Abu Dhabi to the state of the art facilities in the Police Officers Club Stadium in Dubai to compete in their events across 6 days of quality competition.

The eight athletics athletes have gone through a rigorous selection process which saw them qualify for their Area Games in 2016, Regional Games in 2017 and the Ireland Games in June 2018.

Most of the training and preparation happens weekly in their local clubs and once a month the athletes come together as a full team at the residential training camps in Dublin where they work closely with their Team Ireland coaches. This is an opportunity for the athletes from all over the country to get to know each other and to work with their coaches in advance of the Games.

All three athletics coaches have a wealth of experience which will benefit the athletes greatly. Head Coach Frank Fitzgerald, is a coach with Shannon AC and an Athletics Ireland official in the Munster area. Coach Chaperone Roisin Howard is a two time Irish heptathlete and has 6 years of experience coaching Special Olympics athletes in both athletics and swimming and Lee Campbell has over 10 years of coaching experience with Newtownabbey Racers Special Olympics Club.

Speaking at a recent training camp, the coaches were quick to praise the athletes and were impressed by the encouragement and support they show for each other.

“They are exceptionally well motivated and get on really well together as a group, helping where they can, encouraging and cheering each other on. Throughout our squad training sessions so far we have been seeing incremental performance improvements which is very promising and I expect some great results and personal best performances from each of them at the World Games”.

Two time World Winter Games Floorball player, Roy Saville from Cork will be lining out in Dubai for the 100m and 200m races and is looking forward to this new challenge of a Summer Games

“It is huge for me to be part of Team Ireland. This is my first Summer Games so it is very different. It is not about the winning it is about the taking part and I am looking forward to seeing my competition and trying my best”.

Team Ireland will be a team to watch in 2019 as they showcase their skills to the world. Follow their progress by or on Twitter @SOIreland



Padraig Harrington gets behind our golfers


The Team Ireland golfers received the opportunity of a lifetime when they met 2020 Ryder Cup Captain, Padraig Harrington ahead of their trip to Abu Dhabi this March

It was a moment that many golfers have wished for as Padraig offered some words of wisdom to the team,  in the final stages of preparation for their unforgettable trip to Abu Dhabi. Wishing the golfers luck, he also took the time to sign the golf balls that Team Ireland will use in the World Games.

There are high hopes for the team, not least due to the soaring interest in golf as a result of the continuing success of Irish golfers on the world stage. Irish golfer Shane Lowry recently won the championship in Abu Dhabi, setting the bar for success for Team Ireland. And one of our Team Ireland athletes Jill Connery from Scarva, Co. Armagh showed that the talent of our golfers as she scored a hole in one at her first residential training weekend at Grange Castle Golf Club in November.

Hailing from across Ireland, the Team Ireland golfing squad features Dubliners, Mark Claffey (29) from Blackrock; John Keating (26) from Templeogue; Andrew Simmington (30) from Dalkey and playing partner, Phyl Kelleher  from Rathfarnham an alternate shot partner; Mairead Moroney (69) and her playing partner Jean Molony an alternate shot partner, both from Ennis, Co Clare; Simon Lowry (27) from Loughrea, Co. Galway and Jill Connery (age 33) from Scarva, Co. Armagh.

Padraig Harrington, a long-time supporter and worldwide ambassador of Special Olympics commented:

“Irish golfers are now rated as some of the best in the world. This March, all eyes will be on Abu Dhabi when our inspirational Team Ireland athletes will be teeing off to achieve personal bests on a world class golf course. To represent Ireland is a phenomenal achievement and I would like to wish all of the athletes the very best of luck at the World Games.”


Club mates, friends and now Team Ireland members!


Teammates often become great friends as Connaught basketball stars Sarah and Shauna will agree. Both from Athlone Sarah and Shauna train and compete in numerous sports together. As members of Athlone Special Olympics Club they have been involved in swimming, athletics and floorball but basketball is the sport that will see both girls travel to […]