Sizzling performances on DAY 1 of World Transplant Games in Spain as Irish Team wins Gold, Silver and 2 Bronze

PRESS RELEASE                                                                 26 June 2017


Transplant Team Ireland has put in Sizzling performances, securing a Gold, a Silver and 2 Bronze medals, as they battled the heat in the first day of events at the 21st World Transplant Games in Malaga, Spain.

Galway kidney transplant recipient Sinead McGowan won the first medal for the Irish team, a Silver, out of a total of four bagged today by Transplant Team Ireland. Sinead crossed the line in 2nd place in the 5km Road Race event. Hours later, the Irish team added three more medals to their first day tally, a Gold and 2 Bronze, at another venue in Malaga where Petanque (singles) was being held. The Gold medal was won by liver transplant recipient Charlie Ryan from Cobh in the Petanque singles event and kidney transplant recipients Marie O’Connor from Lahinch and Lenny Ryan from Tallaght each secured a bronze medal in their Petanque events.

Under the searing heat which reached the high 30s today, Sinead McGowan, from Renmore, and now living in Australia, put in an impressive performance crossing the 5km distance line in second place coming in just behind a Canadian and ahead of a UK competitor.

After her medal win, Sinead said, “I’m still shocked that I won a medal. A Canadian won the race and the UK was 3rd. It was a tough race and very hot. I am very grateful to my donor, my brother Seamus, for making this possible”. When asked about whether she was acclimatised to the heat, as the Renmore native now lives and works in Australia, Sinead said, “It was very hot for the race. Normally I would train early in the morning in Australia at around 6am”.

Sinead will be taking part in more track and field events later in the week as well as in a cycling event before the games come to a close on Sunday 2nd July.


Speaking after winning Gold in the Petanque, skipper Charlie Ryan who this summer is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his liver transplant said, “It was very tough conditions in the heat at 36 degrees but I’m delighted to win my first World Games Gold medal against the Americans. It’s great to bring the Gold back to Cork.” Fellow Corkman Michael Kiely, from Mitchelstown and a newcomer to Transplant Team Ireland, put in a great performance in Petanque but was beaten to medal position by a Hungarian.


Marie O’Connnor, from Lahinch said “It’s absolutely brilliant. It was of course extremely hot. I’m over the moon winning a bronze medal. I didn’t expect it. This is for my donor. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here.The Games are really enjoyable. I’m so grateful and thankful to be here. A big cheer for the Irish team, all doing us proud here in Spain”.


Lenny Ryan from Tallaght, Dublin said after winning his Bronze, “I really enjoyed the challenge. I beat an Iranian athlete in the third round. He was a lovely guy and it was an enjoyable and close game. I played against a Thai athlete in the semi-final and unfortunately lost to him. The weather is scorching which is an added challenge. I’m delighted to have won the bronze and I dedicate it to my donor.”


Today was Dubliner Anthony Byrne’s first time to compete at a World Transplant Games event. He said after his Petanque event, “I am delighted with how I played.There are a lot of excellent players here. I’ve enjoyed the experience thoroughly so far and am really looking forward to the rest of the week.”

Dublin natives, Paul Prendergast, Harry Ward, Mick Dwyer, Meath man Tony Gavigan, and newcomer Aoife Murray all competed in the Pétanque singles events also, in their respective age categories and put in excellent performances.


Donegal kidney transplant man Kieran Murray from Ramelton was very happy with his performance in the men’s 5km road race and although he didn’t get placed in the top three he was happy with his time 19 minutes 22 seconds. He said, “ I’m delighted with my performance. I was aiming for under 20 minutes so I am very happy with 19.22 which is  11 seconds off my personal best. I thank my donor for getting me to here and being able to compete and enjoy the Games experience.”  Tipperary natives; Orla Hogan and Sheila Gregan, and Carlow man Tony Gartland also put in fantastic performances on the running track this morning.


Transplant Team Ireland includes 4 liver and 23 kidney transplant recipients ranging in age from 30 to 79 who will compete against almost 1000 participants from more than 50 countries at what will be the largest gathering of transplant recipients this year.  The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for coordinating and managing Transplant Team Ireland’s participation at European and World Transplant Games events.


Expressing good wishes to the 27 strong Irish team before they departed for the World Games were the cream of sporting personalities including Martin O’Neill, Ruby Walsh, GAA’s Mickey Harte, Alan Brogan and David Hickey the former Dublin footballer and Transplant surgeon, Kilkenny Hurling All Star Michael Fennelly as well as the new president of the Olympic Council of Ireland Sarah Keane. The Ambassador of Spain José María Rodríguez-Coso also expressed his good wishes and held a reception for members of the team at his residence in Dublin the week before they left for the Games.



Every athlete at the World Transplant Games will have already received a kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas or bone marrow transplant.


The Irish team includes four newcomers. Although the main objective for team members is to embrace life and promote organ donation, some returning team members will also be contesting World titles. Keen to build on their medal successes at the previous World Transplant Games in Argentina in 2015, Deirdre Faul, Kieran Murray, Tony Gartland and Peter Heffernan have being training hard in anticipation of the competition in Malaga.  Between them, the much smaller team of four won 13 medals including 7 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bronze in Argentina.  Two years previously at the World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa 2013, the Irish team of 24 athletes scooped 34 medals including 12 Gold, 10 Silver and 12 bronze with 50 competing countries.


Athletes compete in their respective age categories in the following events: badminton, cycling, darts, golf, petanque, squash, swimming, table tennis, ten pin bowling, tennis, mini-marathon, and track and field.


For more information on World Transplant Games and the Irish athletes visit the Irish team     Visit the Games website


THE FULL IRISH PANEL IS AS FOLLOWS (and their individual ‘athlete profiles’ are on the team blog):-

ANTRIM: John McAleer, Newtownabbey (kidney) (oldest member of the team)

CORK: Mike Keohane, Clonakilty (liver); Charlie Ryan, Cobh (liver); Michael Kiely, Mitchelstown, on the Limerick border (kidney); Pat O’Sullivan, Mallow (kidney)

CARLOW: Tony (Patrick Anthony)Gartland, Hacketstown(liver), first liver transplant person in Ireland

CLARE: Marie O’Connor, Lahinch (kidney)

DONEGAL:  Kieran Murray, Ramelton (kidney)

GALWAY:  Sinead McGowan, Renmore    (living in Australia)

KERRY:  Con Brosnan, Killarney (kidney)

KILDARE: James Nolan, Kilcullen (kidney)

MEATH: Tony Gavigan, Navan, a native of Lanesborough, Longford (kidney transplant and father of deceased donor);      Rachel Eagleton, Bettystown (kidney) – youngest member of the team

MONAGHAN: Michelle Reinhardt McCabe, Smithboro (kidney)

TIPPERARY: Orla Hogan, Nenagh (kidney); Sheila Gregan, Nenagh (kidney)

WICKLOW: Garry Campbell, Greystones (kidney)

DUBLIN: Ron Grainger, Castleknock, D.15 (kidney); Harry Ward, Team Captain, Baldoyle, D.13 (kidney); Paul Prendergast, Santry, D.9 (kidney); Anthony Byrne, Artane (kidney); Angela Sherlock, Greenhills (kidney); Peter Heffernan, Skerries (kidney); Aoife Murray, Clonsilla, (liver);

Michael Dwyer, Cabinteely (kidney); Leonard Ryan, Tallaght, D 24 (kidney); and Deirdre Faul, Dalkey (liver).

Team Manager, Colin White from Balbriggan, Dublin

Team Doctor, Claire Kennedy, from Lucan and living in Clontarf, Dublin


For organ donor cards Freetext DONOR to 50050 or visit website  You can now download the IKA’s new digital donor card by visiting on your smartphone.Your wishes to be an organ donor can also be included on the new format driving licence which is represented by Code 115. 


NOTE:   Transplant Team Ireland’s return flight on Ryanair is expected to land at Dublin airport Terminal One on Sunday July 2nd at 17.30 hours. An informal homecoming reception by family, friends and supporters will take place in the Arrivals Hall (Terminal One) as the team are expected to come through after collecting baggage at approx. 18 hrs. Photographer Conor McCabe will be covering this homecoming event (no repro fee) tel. 085 7057255



Colin White, Team Manager Tel. 353 1 6205306 mob. 353 87 6843644 Email:

Gwen O’Donoghue, Media co-ordinator. Mob. 353 86 8241447 Email:

Harry Ward, Team Captain mob. 353 85 2137512 Email:





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