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Page last updated at 10:40 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 11:40 UK

Irish Olympic team is announced

Boxer Paddy Barnes
Paddy Barnes was the first Irish boxer to qualify for Beijing

Eight Ulster athletes have been named in the 51-strong Ireland team for next month's Olympic Games in Beijing.

Boxer Paddy Barnes, sailor Stephen Milne, rower Richard Archibald, swimmers Andrew Bree and Melanie Nocher and triathlete Emma Davis are selected.

In addition, the squad includes Donegal duo Chloe Magee (Badminton) and Philip Deignan (cycling).

Nocher and her fellow swimmer Aisling Cooney were late additions to the Irish squad earlier this week.

The two young swimmers were chosen in order to gain experience ahead of London 2012 when they will be expected to be at their peak.

Emma Davis will become the first Irish triathlete to compete in the Olympics and the Bangor-based athlete will be aiming for something in the order of a top-20 finish.

The Irish team will challenge in 12 sports and Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey said that the competitors would "represent Ireland on the world stage with pride and passion".


The Chinese Ambassador to Ireland was among those who attended the team announcement at Dublin's Conrad Hotel on Thursday but despite the fanfare, it's will not be a major surprise if the squad returns home from Beijing without any medals.

That was ultimately the case in Athens four years ago after Cian O'Connor lost the show jumping gold after his horse failed a drugs test.

The Irish team has performers in a range of sports who look capable of reaching the finals of their events but there is no athlete in the squad who is strongly fancied to win a medal.

Race walker Robert Heffernan has been mentioned as an outside bet for a medal in the 20K event after his sixth place in last year's World Championships while the Irish men's lightweight fours, if they can regain their form of 2005 and 2006, could contend.

Track and field hopefuls such as 200 metre runner Paul Hession and hammer thrower Eileen O'Keeffe will have high hopes of reaching their finals while 400m man David Gillick has produced good form in recent weeks.

But to suggest that any of the trio are realistic medal contenders would be stretching the imagination.

Boxing has traditionally been a successful sport for Ireland but while a good draw could see a number of the five Irish hopefuls getting past the early stages, medals look unlikely.

Further additions to the team are possible and those hoping to achieve late call-ups include the men's 4x400m relay squad who are still chasing the Beijing qualifying mark.

Ireland team

Athletics: Fionnuala Britton (3000 steeplechase), Alistair Cragg (1500/5000m), Jamie Costin (20K Walk), Joanne Cuddihy (400m), Martin Fagan (Marathon), David Gillick (400m), Colin Griffin (50K walk), Robert Heffernan (20K walk), Paul Hession (100/200m), Olive Loughnane (20K walk), Roisin McGettigan (3000m steeplechase), Eileen O'Keeffe (Hammer), Derval O'Rourke (100H).

Badminton: Scott Evans (singles), Chloe Magee (singles)

Boxing: Paddy Barnes (light-fly), Kenny Egan (light-heavyweight), John Joe Joyce (light-welterweight), John Joe Nevin (bantam), Darren Sutherland (middleweight)

Canoeing: Eoin Rheinisch (mens slalom)

Cycling: Nicholas Roche (Road Race), Philip Deignan (Road Race), David O'Loughlin (Individual Pursuit), Robin Seymour (Mountain Bike).

Equestrian: Denis Lynch (Show Jumping), Austin O'Connor (Eventing), Geoff Curran (Eventing), Patricia Ryan (Eventing), Louise Lyons (Eventing), Niall Griffin (Eventing)

Fencing: Siobhan Byrne (Sabre)

Rowing: Sean O'Neill (coxless fours), Jonno Devlin (coxless fours), Sean Casey (coxless fours), Cormac Folan (coxless fours), Paul Griffin (lightweight fours), Richard Archibald (lightweight fours), Gearoid Towey (lightweight fours), Cathal Moynihan (lightweight fours)

Sailing: Ciara Peelo (Laser Radial), Tim Goodbody (Finn), Gerard Owens (470), Philip Lawton (470), Peter O'Leary (Star), Stephen Milne (Star)

Shooting: Derek Burnett (Trap)

Swimming: Andrew Bree (200m breaststroke), Melanie Nocher (200m backstroke), Aisling Cooney (100m backstroke)

Triathlon: Emma Davis

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