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Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 12:01 UK

Irish Paralympic selection named

Michael McKillop
Belfast lad Michael McKillop is the 800m T37 world champion

Medal prospects Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop are among the Northern Ireland athletes named in Ireland's 45-strong team for the Beijing Paralympics.

Sprinter Smyth and middle-distance man McKillop claimed world championship gold medals two years ago.

The team also includes Armagh dressage rider Eilish Byrne, Tyrone swimmers Jonathan Cummings and Stephen Campbell plus Belfast swimmer Hannah Clarke.

Mark Jones (Belfast) and Joseph Markey (Clontibret) are in the football squad.

Irish Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Martin Cullen officially unveiled the squad in Dublin on Wednesday morning.

The games get underway on 6 September and will run for 12 days.

The Paralympic Games are elite Olympic style sports events for elite athletes with physical disabilities, or visual impairment, emphasising athletic achievement rather than disability.

Approximately 4000 athletes, from over 153 countries across twenty sports will compete at the Beijing Games.

I have no doubt that they will be great ambassadors for our country

Irish Sports Minister Martin Cullen

Athletes compete in various classes of competition and are classified according to their disability.

Minister Cullen described the athletes' selections as a "tremendous honour that the athletes, their families and friends should be very proud of".

"I have no doubt that they will be great ambassadors for our country," added the minister.

The Irish team comprises ten track and field athletes, four cyclists (with two sighted pilot riders), one archer, four boccia players (a form of bowls for athletes with severe physical disabilities), a team of twelve footballers, six swimmers, five sailors, two table tennis players, and dressage rider Eilish Byrne.

The team includes three of Ireland's medalists from the Athens Games - John McCarthy and Derek Malone and Dave Malone.

Derek Malone won a track and field medal in Athens but he will be competing for Ireland's football team in China.

Footballers Mark Jones and Joseph Markey are part of the Seven-a-side football team, who recently played an exhibition game in Austria before the Euro 2008 quarter-final between Spain and Italy.

The Irish team at 45 is biggest squad since the Atlanta Games in 1996.

This is regarded as something of a coup for the Paralympic Council of Ireland as many western nations are facing reductions in team size as a result of the escalating number of competing countries.

Wednesday's team announcement also saw the unveiling of the Irish team kit which is being sponsored by O'Neills.

The Irish team will come together for their final whole team training camp at the University of Limerick from 7-10 August, before departing for their holding camp in Beijing on 24 August.

ARCHERY

Men: Sean Heary (Co Meath).

ATHLETICS

Men:
Jason Smyth (Eglinton - T13 100m/200m), Michael McKillop (Glengormley - T37 800m), Roy Guerin (Tralee - T53 100m), Garrett Culliton (Laois - F52 discus), John McCarthy (Co Cork - F51 discus and club), Eoin Cleare (Offaly - F32 Shot putt)

Women:
Catherine Wayland (Co Wexford - F51 discus), Orla Barry (Co Cork - F51 Discus), Lisa Callaghan (Co Meath - F37 javelin), Patrice Dockery (Dublin - T53 100/200/400m)

FOOTBALL

Men: Aidan Brennan (Dublin), Paul Dollard (Dublin), Luke Evans (Dublin), Finbarr O'Riordan (Cork), Mark Jones (Belfast), Gary Messett (Bray), Kieran Devlin (Dublin), Brian McGillivary (Dublin), Joseph Markey (Clontibret), Derek Malone (Co Clare), Alan O'Hara (Dublin), Darre Kavanagh (Dublin).

BOCCIA

Padraic Moran (Bray), Gabriel Shelly (Carlow), Roberta Connolly (Dublin), Tom Leahy (Co Cork)

PARA-EQUESTRIAN DRESSAGE

Grade II: Eilish Byrne (Armagh)

CYCLING

Men: Michael Delaney (North Dublin), Enda Smyth (Dublin), Cathal Millar (Dublin)

Women: Catherine Walsh (Swords)

SAILING

SKUD-18 class: John Twomey (Co Cork) and Amy Felehan (Dalkey).

Sonar: Paul McCarthy (Co Cork), Paul Ryan (Co Cork) and Richard Whealey (Co Cork).

SWIMMING

Men: David Malone (Dublin), Jonathan Cummings (Coalisland), Stephen Campbell (Cookstown), Darragh McDonald (Co Wexford)

Women: Ellen Keane (Dublin), Hannah Clarke (Belfast)

TABLE TENNIS

Women: Eimear Breathnach (Dublin), Kathleen Reynolds (Dublin)



see also
Disability sport on the BBC
23 Apr 08 |  Disability sport


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