It’s Tipp-Top success on first day of World Transplant Games with 1 Gold, 4 Silver and 1 Bronze medals scoop in Petanque and 5km road race

Today saw double success for the Premier County as a Tipperary woman, Sheila Gregan, ran her way to success, by winning a Bronze medal for the 5km road race, the first medal  for Transplant Team Ireland  in the first day of competition at the World Transplant Games which are being held in Newcastle Gateshead. While Sheila and some other members of the Irish Team including a fellow Tipp woman  were able to watch her county win the All Ireland Hurling final at the Tyneside Irish Centre in Chinatown, Newcastle some other transplant recipients were still competing in qualifers for another sport Petanque in Sage Gateshead . A Silver medal was won  by the oldest member of the Irish team, John McAleer, 81, from Antrim while a South African took Gold in the same event. Also in Petanque two Irish teammates, both in their seventies, Charlie Ryan from Cork and Paul Prendergast were proving that senior age is not an obstacle to competitive sport as they battled it out with contestants from other countries and put in a fantastic performance. Through stiff competition Cobh Native Charlie Ryan took the Gold, following a nail biting final with Finland. Charlie said, “today was outstanding, it was a long day and hard earned but I’m delighted with the result. I won in the last two shots. Not only team Ireland, but lots of other teams such as the USA were cheering me along, it was brilliant.”

Newcomers to the team Mick O’Shea, Tommy Marrett and Jerome Lyness also competed in the Pétanque event today, all enjoying their first World Transplant Games experience. Dubliners Lenny Ryan and Harry Ward, Clare woman Marie O’Connor and Westmeath man Finian Farrell all competed in their respective age category events and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Sheila Gregan from Nenagh, a kidney transplant recipient won her bronze in the 50-59 year age category of the 5km road race and was pipped to first and second place by athletes from Team Great Britain and South Africa respectively. Sheila said after her race, “I’m totally in shock, I can’t believe it. I’ve started doing park runs this year and some running with the Nenagh triathlon club. I’m speechless. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s so wonderful to be here honouring my donor.” The success didn’t end here as Sheila also took the Silver in the 5km road race ladies team event along with newcomer to the team Anna Pokojska and Galway native Sinead McGowan.

Sheila’s teammate Orla Hogan, also from Nenagh and a passionate Tipperary hurling supporter, her father Seamus Hogan having played hurling for Tipperary county decades ago. Orla also took part in a 5km road race at the World Transplant Games and although she didn’t secure a medal she was happy to have been able to take part saying before she departed with Sheila and other members of the Irish team including Kilkenny native Emma O’Sullivan from Ballyragget to watch the All Ireland final.  Orla said, “It was a great morning. My first event done and dusted and I’m  looking forward to the bowling tomorrow. I’m heading to watch the Tipperary match now and can’t wait to see how it goes. It’s great to be here showcasing the success of organ donation. A huge thank you to my kidney donor brother Cathal and my previous kidney donors”.  
Other members of Transplant Team Ireland who competed in 5km road race events under grey skies and with windy conditions in the morning were Kieran Murray, Donegal and Limerick man Trevor Lynch.

John McAleer said after his win, “it was a lovely afternoon weather wise, my last competitor was from South Africa and he had wonderful supporters with him and they all mixed very well with the Irish Team. There was a wonderful atmosphere. A huge thank you to my donor’s family and my wife Bridget who is with me here at the games.  The Irish team and their supporters are wonderful company and they cheer on their athletes mightily”

 38 members of Transplant Team Ireland are representing their country and honouring their donors at the World Transplant Games in Newcastle Gateshead UK which take place from 17-24th August. Ranging in age from 16 to 81, the team of 29 men and 9 women  (listed below), have all undergone transplants including 1 heart, 1 lung, 4 liver, 1 bone marrow and 31 kidney. The largest ever Irish Transplant Team to travel abroad they are among 1400 athletes from 56 countries who will take part in the World Transplant Games 2019 showcasing the success of organ donation. 

The Irish Kidney Association is responsible for Ireland’s involvement in the Games and the National Projects Manager Colin White said in advance of the games, “I am excited about the diverse nature of this year’s squad who will represent Ireland at the World Transplant Games 2019. We cover a wide range of sports and have a variety of levels of experience too. Our 5 competitors over the age of 70 are a fantastic example to us all in that sport can, and should, be a life-long habit. Each competitor is an ambassador in their own right and collectively the team sends out a wonderfully uplifting message about how life can be post-transplant”.  

Athletes will 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.

This year the team has gratefully received support from Swim Ireland, Athletics Ireland and Irish Squash. The on-going coaching support from Swim Ireland has been particularly welcomed. Astellas Pharma Ltd. has again provided some sponsorship towards the costs of running the team.

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

Visit the Games website

The Irish Kidney Association will host the European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Dublin next summer (August 2nd-9th 2020) and its primary goal is to promote the importance and success of organ donation for transplantation.  

Transplant Team Ireland will return home to Dublin Airport Terminal One on a Ryanair flight on August 24th circa 12.30pm. 

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

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

CAVAN: Aodhagan Cullen, Cavan (kidney)

CLARE: Marie O’Connor, Lahinch (kidney)

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

Michael O’Shea, Mallow (Heart)

DONEGAL:  Kieran Murray, Ramelton (kidney)

GALWAY:  Sinead McGowan, Renmore (living in Australia) (kidney)

KERRY:  Anna Pokojska,Killarney,via Poland  Did the Ring of Kerry Cycle previous day (kidney)

KILDARE: James Nolan, Kilcullen (kidney) International award winning butcher – underwent a living donor kidney transplant 32 years ago (kidney)

KILKENNY VIA LIMERICK: Emma O’Sullivan (kidney)

LIMERICK via UK: Trevor Lynch, Cappamore, (Bone Marrow)

LOUTH: Tommy Marrett, Ardee (kidney)

MAYO via UK: Julie O’Neill, Westport- Award winning businesswoman, underwent living donor transplant from brother 37 years ago (kidney);

MEATH: Tony Gavigan, Navan & native of LONGFORD father of deceased donor (kidney);   

Jerome Lyness, Navan,(kidney);

Rachel Eagleton, Bettystown – youngest female on the team (33) (kidney);

Jack O’Brien, Navan, – youngest member of the team (16) (kidney);

MONAGHAN: Tomas Flannery, Tandarageebane (Lung);

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

WATERFORD via Dublin:  Eoin Hurley (age 25, Genetics student at TCD)(kidney)

WESTMEATH: Finian Farrell, Mullingar (kidney); 

Noel Marsden, Athlone (kidney)

John Connell, Mullingar, living in South Africa (kidney);

WICKLOW: Garry Campbell, Greystones (kidney);

Philip Kavanagh, Arklow (liver);

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);

Peter Heffernan, Skerries (kidney);

Leonard Ryan, Tallaght (kidney);

Michael Dwyer, Cabinteely (kidney);

Deirdre Faul, Dalkey (liver);

John Moran, Glasnevin, celebrating 34th anniversary of living donor transplant from brother (kidney) .

TEAM MANAGER, Colin White from Balbriggan, Dublin

TEAM DOCTOR Ayanfe Obilana

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



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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