IRISH TRANSPLANT GOLFERS BASK IN GOLD AND SILVER GLORY
Irish transplant golfers put in an outstanding performance in Perth today at the World Transplant Games. Transplant Team Ireland seized Gold and Silver the top two positions in golf pairs while two more just missed out on bronze. Proving to be an indomitable Cork duo, golfers Pat O’Sullivan from Mallow and newcomer to the team Hugh Nolan from Doneraile, each basked in the sunshine and their Golden medal glory with their gross score of 65 on the demanding par 70 Wembley Golf course. This good news comes a day after fellow Corkonian teammate Mairead O’Mahony, from Berrings, won silver in the 5km race event. The Silver lining for Transplant Team Ireland’s golfers was when Dubliner Ron Grainger and Tony Gavigan from Longford, on form performance secured them second place position and another two medals for the team with a score of 79.
Pat O’Sullivan and Hugh Nolan competed in Category 1 (the lowest handicap group of those registered). They credited their win to making a good team, dovetailing between the two of them and helping each other out along the way. Pat described the course as “hard enough, the greens were tricky”, but both he and Hugh were keen to credit their organ donors for being the reason they were able to compete – coincidentally they were in hospital together after their kidney transplants. They are both also grateful to Mallow Golf Club and McKenna Golf Academy for their support, as well as their families and friends.
Coming in a respectable fourth place having just missed out on third place in the Golf Pairs event were Mike Kiely, from Mitchelston, Co. Cork and Nick Heather, from Sutton, Dublin who is now living in Melbourne.
Golfers Dubliner Ron Grainger and Tony Gavigan from Longford, were awarded Silver medals in golf pairs Category 4 (handicap).Ron said “It came as a surprise to us, we played our best all day and had a wonderful game of golf with two South African kidney recipients, so it was great to win the Silver medal.” He went on to add his thanks to his family for supporting him through the good times and the bad, but most of all his kidney donor, saying “just to be here at all, to have the gift of life thanks to someone else’s generosity is phenomenal.” Tony agreed with Ron’s summary, adding that they have been partners in Golf at previous World Games and have always gelled well. He also felt the weather helped, being the first game of golf, they have played in sunny weather for a while! Tony also added his thanks to his son Elden who is living in Christchurch, New Zealand, who spent three weeks coaching him in golf. He said “I felt very optimistic going into the competition thanks to his advice and coaching”. Tony also acknowledged his gratitude to his kidney donor.
At another sunny venue in Perth today Dubliner Finbar O’Reagan and Bernadette Cox from Newbridge, Co Kildare took part in the Petanque singles events which was their first time to represent Ireland at the World Transplant Games. Although they didn’t qualify for a podium position they enjoyed the experience and are looking forward to competing in petanque doubles events later in the week.
Over at a racetrack venue team newcomer Bryan Duignan, from Palatine, Carlow took part in his second competition at the games, the 10km Cycling event, and his time of 00:18:12 placed him in sixth position. This comes a day after coming in fifth place for running over the finish line in the 5km race event with his personal best time of 22.32. After his event today Bryan said,” it was an undulating course with a couple of tough hills and intense heat. I went out and gave it my all but a few of the winners were very strong riders and as a triathlete cycling is just one of my three sporting disciplines. I had an ice bath after my race yesterday which helped me prepare myself for today. I am happy with my performance and I look forward to competing again later in the week. I’m really enjoying being part of the experience here.”
Ranging in age from 36 right up to 75, the current Transplant Team Ireland panel of 10 inspirational men and 4 women travelling to Perth for the World Transplant Games have all received organ transplants including 2 liver, 2 bone marrow, and 10 kidney. They will be among 1,524 participants from 46 countries, all embracing their gift of life and honouring their donors in this celebration of life through sport. The Games will continue until 21st April.
Competition at the Games is by age category and Transplant Team Ireland will have representatives in the following eleven sports: Cycling; Darts; Golf; Lawn Bowls; Petanque; Road Race; Swimming; Table Tennis; Ten Pin Bowling; Tennis; and Triathlon.
Each of the athletes is funding their participation in the Games (Games registration, flights, accommodation, and meals) through fundraising in the name of the Irish Kidney Association/Transplant Team Ireland, and using their own funds. The team is proud to wear the Team Kit which, this year, has been sponsored by the Health Services Staffs Credit Union (HSSCU).
To find out more about the World Transplant Games visit website www.worldtransplantgames.org and to find out more about members of Transplant Team Ireland and to follow their progress at the Games, you can follow the team blog; www.transplantteamireland.ie The World Transplant Games has its own App. which contains information on competition schedules, venue locations and results, just search for WTG Event in the App store.
THE FULL IRISH PANEL IS AS FOLLOWS INCLUDING THEIR TRANSPLANT ORGAN (their individual ‘athlete profiles’ are on the team blog www.transplantteamireland.ie ) :-
CARLOW: Brian Duignan, Palatine (kidney)
Tony Gartland, Hacketstown near WICKLOW (Liver)
CORK: Michael Kiely, Ballylanders, Mitchelstown, on LIMERICK border (living kidney donor)
Pat O’Sullivan, Mallow (kidney)
Hugh Nolan, Donaraile (kidney)
Mairead O’Mahony, Berrings (bone marrow)
GALWAY: Teresa Smyth, Williamstown, Dunmore, Tuam (kidney)
KILDARE: Bernadette Cox, Newbridge (kidney)
LIMERICK: John Loftus, Clarina (kidney)
MEATH: Tony Gavigan, Navan and native of LONGFORD father of deceased donor (kidney)
TIPPERARY: Sheila Gregan, Nenagh, (kidney)
DUBLIN: Ron Grainger, Castleknock, D 15 (kidney)
Finbar O’Regan, Pearse Street, Dublin 2 (Liver)
Nick Heather, Sutton, Dublin, now living in Melbourne, Australia (bone marrow)
TEAM MANAGER, Colin White from Balbriggan, Dublin