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TRANSPLANT TEAM IRELAND win 34 medals at  European Games!

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From Left to Right Back row: Mick Dwyer (Dublin), Peter Heffernan (Dublin), James Nolan, (Kildare),  Team Captain & Athlete Harry Ward (Dublin), Ron Grainger (Dublin), Charlie Ryan (Cork), Mike Keohane (Cork) 
Front Row (L to R)John Moran (Dublin),Sheila Gregan (Tipperary), Marie O Connor (Clare),  Amanda O Neill Coyne (Cork), Gordon Ryan (Roscommon) 
Missing from Photo: Trevor Lynch (Limerick) Mike Gilligan (Galway)

Transplant and dialysis athletes from Dublin, Kildare, Cork, Tipperary, Galway, Limerick, Clare and Roscommon who participated in The European Transplant and Dialysis Games in Oxford UK from Sunday August 21st to 28th, came home with a staggering 34 medals. The 14 strong team took part in the week – long multi-sports competition amongst Heart, Lung, Liver, Kidney, Pancreas & Bone Marrow transplant recipients and kidney dialysis patients from over 25 countries. The Irish team of 11 men and three women consist of 9 Kidney recipients, 2 Liver recipients, 1 Double Lung recipient, 1 bone marrow recipient and one on currently Dialysis. Team Captain Harry Ward from Baldoyle who lead the team to Oxford himself won Bronze in both Darts and Ten Pin Bowling.

Day 1 of the Games saw Charlie Ryan (Cobh, Cork) the first from Team Ireland to win the Gold medal! Retaining his Darts title, he is unbeaten in European and World competition since 2008 – a remarkable achievement indeed! He is truly the King of Darts. After the final Charlie (pictured) said: Only for my donor and their family I wouldn’t be here- I hope everyone will consider carrying a Donor card. These Games show that Organ donation works. Also medalling at the Darts, were Mike Keohane (Rosscarbery) who took Bronze as did Harry Ward. More success later in the day on the golf course with Ireland’s Mick Dwyer (Cabinteely) & Marie O’Connor (Lahinch) taking Gold and James Nolan & Amanda O’Neill Coyne (Youghal) taking the Silver in the pairs competition.

Charlie Ryan (Cobh, Cork) the first from Team Ireland to win the Gold medal

On Day 2, competitors Gordon Ryan (Roscommon) took part in the Tennis (pictured with his Polish competitor). Gordon – a double lung recipient was at his first Games which he described as ‘an amazing experience.’ Swimmers Peter Heffernan (Skerries) & Sheila Gregan (Nenagh) (pictured) were in action at the pool and these seasoned pros took 4 bronze medals. Three for Peter (50m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke & 400m Freestyle) and 1 for Sheila (100m Breaststroke).

In Ten pin bowling doubles, Harry Ward (Baldoyle) and partner Charlie Ryan took the Bronze medal. The day concluded with more good news from the golf course, with the ladies Amanda O Neill Coyne (Youghal) and Marie O Connor (Lahinch) winning Double Gold. There was also medal success with Gold for Ron Grainger (Castleknock) Silver for Mick Dwyer and a Bronze for James Nolan (Kildare).

Picture: Mick Dwyer, Marie O Connor, Ron Grainger & Amanda O Neill Coyne

Day 3, and a change of venue for Team Ireland as we headed to the Blenheim Palace (birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill) for the Pétanque & Cycling (Time Trial Events). In the Petanque Marie O’Connor won her 3rd medal of the Games & Charlie Ryan completed the full house of Gold – Silver – Bronze.

Captain Harry Ward in action at Petanque
John Moran at 7k Cycling Time Trial
Marie O Connor at the beautiful Blenheim Palace claiming her 3rd Gold of the Games

Day 4 saw the 28k Cycling event with athletes John Moran and Mike Gilligan in action. It was a very fast and competitive cycle., with results were delayed as John Moran was in a photo finish with an Italian cyclist and after a forensic photo finish, John was pipped for Gold in 3000th of a second! But what a great Silver medal for Team Ireland. Mike Gilligan …in his Games debut…came home also with a Silver medal.

Cyclists Mike Gilligan & John Moran after their medal success

Day 5 at the Games, and all attention now turned to the Track & Field Athletes. Competing for Ireland in the Throwing competitions were Mike Keohane (Shot Put & Discus). Keohane, as solid as ever in the Shot Put, throwing a season’s best (SB) to secure a hard fought Silver.

Mike Keohane on the podium with his Hungarian & Czech rivals

On the Track we had Marie O’Connor (100m), Ron Grainger (100m), Trevor Lynch (1500m), James Nolan (400m),and John Moran (1500m). An what an amazing day it was with all 6 athletes claiming medals in their individual events. Marie O’Connor won her fourth medal of the games; a Silver in the 100m, and then Ron Grainger added to his Gold in the Golf with a fantastic Bronze medal, also in the 100m.

Attention then turned to the 1500m distance and double success for the Irish here with Gold for John Moran (completed the set of Gold, Silver & Bronze collection), and a Silver for Trevor Lynch. The last man on the track for Ireland was James Nolan (pictured) and he rounded off what must be one of the best days in Track & Field for Transplant Team Ireland history by securing Silver in the 400m.

JAMES NOLAN on the podium
Ron Grainger on the podium for his 100 metres
Trevor Lynch claiming his Silver

The final day at the Games saw Mike Keohane in the very tough and competitive 5km Walk but he powered he way to a fantastic Gold.

After the walk it was the turn of the 200m races with James Nolan and John Moran representing the Irish. And delighted all were with James taking Bronze in a photo finish while John claimed the Silver. Meanwhile over at the Radley Cricket Pavillion Marie O Connor was competing in a very competitive Ball Throw where she narrowly missed out on the podium, but what a super week Marie had as later that evening was named “BEST FEMALE TRANSPLANT ATHLETE” of the Games.


And finally the 800m race finished off the the singles programme of action with Trevor Lynch and John Moran taking part and once again it was Gold for John in a tight sprint finish for the line while Trevor Lynch claimed the final medal of what was a brilliant two days on the track with a Silver.

But Transplant Team Ireland is not all about medal success – it is a celebration of life through sport. Medals are valued and hard earned, but the real success is each and every athlete who takes part in these Games. Whilst their stories are unique, each share a common bond of facing adversity. Team Ireland applauds all 14 athletes here in Oxford… some will be lucky to win medals but they are all heroes and an inspiration to us all! #respect!

You can see interviews with athletes and read their stories on www.transplantsportireland.ie
The Team have one simple request to everyone – to please consider carrying an Organ Donor Card and Have the conversation – Say YES to Organ Donation.

THE FULL IRISH PANEL IS AS FOLLOWS (their individual ‘athlete profiles’ are on the team website www.transplantsportireland.ie

CLARE: Marie O’Connor, Lahinch (KIDNEY)
CORK: Mike Keohane, Rosscarbery (LIVER); Charlie Ryan, Cobh (LIVER); Amanda O Neill Coyne (KIDNEY)
DUBLIN: Harry Ward, Team Captain, Baldoyle, D.13 (KIDNEY);
Ron Grainger, Castleknock, D.15 (KIDNEY);
Peter Heffernan, Skerries (KIDNEY);
Michael Dwyer, Cabinteely (KIDNEY);
John Moran, Glasnevin, (KIDNEY);
GALWAY: Mike Gilligan (Dialysis Athlete)
KILDARE: James Nolan, Kilcullen (KIDNEY)
LIMERICK: Trevor Lynch (BONE MARROW)
TIPPERARY: Sheila Gregan, Nenagh (KIDNEY);
ROSCOMMON: Gordon Ryan, Boyle (DOUBLE LUNG)
For organ donor cards Freetext DONOR to 50050

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