Team Ireland wins big at European Championship

*** NO REPRODUCTION FEE *** DUBLIN : 17/7/2016 : A large gathering of family, friends and supporters armed with flags and banners greeted Transplant Team Ireland when they arrived into Dublin airport after competing in the 9th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships in Vantaa, Finland. They brought with them a large haul of medals including 21 Gold, 19 Silver and 29 Bronze.  This placed Ireland’s 28 strong team in fifth position on the medals table with host country Finland, and a much larger team of 96 athletes, taking top position out of 24 competing countries. In second place was Hungary, followed by Great Britain and then Germany. Transplant Team Ireland is managed by the Irish Kidney Association. Pictured was Transplant Team Ireland’s dublin members Mike Dwyer, Ron Granger, Deirdre Faul, Harry Ward, Peter Heffernan, Lenny Ryan, Paul Prendergast. Picture Conor McCabe Photography. MEDIA CONTACT : Gwen O’Donoghue, Connect Communications, mob. 086 8241447 email.

(left to right) Transplant Team Ireland’s Dublin members Mike Dwyer, Ron Granger, Deirdre Faul, Harry Ward, Peter Heffernan, Lenny Ryan, Paul Prendergast.
Image by Conor McCabe Photography.

The Transplant Team Ireland have returned from Finland, where they won a total of 21 Gold, 19 Silver and 29 Bronze medals in the 9th European Transplant & Dialysis Sports Championships.

The team, consisting of 28 dialysis and transplant athletes, got off to an impressive start by raking in 7 medals on Monday the 11th and an even more impressive 11 the following day. These included one gold, three silver and four bronze in Pentaque single events and two gold, two silver and three bronze in darts.

A bronze in Petanque was won by John McAleer of Antrim, the oldest member of the team at 78. Other recipients included Zimele Brown of Galway, Lenny Ryan of Tallaght, Chikoyo White of Balbriggan, Charlie Ryan of Cobh, Eddie McAuliffe of Portarlington, Bridie Nicholson of Sligo and Marie O’Connor of Lahinch.

Three bronze medals were also won in table tennis, with newcomers Finian Farrell of Mullingar and Mark McNieve of Knock winning one each.

On Wednesday 13th had veterans Dierdre Faul, Peter Heffernan, Orla Hogan and new team member Noel Marsden sweeping the board, bagging 6 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze medals. Kilkenny native Richard McEvoy won a bronze medal in the morning, later winning bronze medals alongside his doubles teammate Mike Keohane of Cork. Ned Crowe of Tipperary and Team Captain Harry Ward of Baldoyle came third in the older age category, winning a bronze medal each.

Long standing team member Peter Heffernan of Skerries displayed a spectacular show of skill, winning a total of 5 medals; a gold in the 50m backstroke, a gold in the 400m freestyle event, a silver in the 100m back stroke, a silver in the 50m freestyle and a bronze in the 100m freestyle. Dierdre Faul of Dalkey proved a force to be reckoned with, winning four gold and one silver. Other winners were Noel Marsden of Athlone, Orla Hogan of Tipperary, Richard McEvoy of Kilkenny, Mike Keohane of Roscarbery, Harry Ward of Baldoyle and Ned Crowe of Carrick-on-suir.

Thursday the 14th saw Irish golfers winning 4 gold and 4 silver. Recipients were of the gold were Marie O’Connor of Lahinch, Ronald Grainger of Castleknock, James Nolan of Kilcullen and Kieran Murray of Donegal with Philip Kavanagh of Arklow, Mick Dwyer of Cabinteely, Eddie McAuliffe of Kildare and John McAleer of Antrim taking home the silver awards.

Charlie Ryan of Cobh, Chikoyo White of Balbriggan and Zimele Brown of Galway also picked up bronze medals in the bowling singles event.

Good wishes have been pouring and many have been posted on the team blog at, with praise coming from GAA personalities such as Alan Brogan, Mickey Harte and Brian Cody as well as the Finnish Ambassador to Ireland, Minister for Health Simon Harris and FAI Chief John Delaney.

Republic of Ireland soccer manager Martin O’Neil sent the team a message congratulating them:

“I am so impressed at how you have already overcome extreme challenges to get this far, and you are now ready to compete on the international sporting stage. As someone who has been lucky enough to have spent a lifetime in sport, I know that the opportunity to challenge the very best is what makes you a sporting competitor. Representing your country against Europe’s best is something that I have a recent and very positive experience of, and I hope you can take some of that joy that I took from our time in France at Euro 2016. Please accept my best wishes as all of you fly the flag for Ireland in Vantaa, and I look forward to hearing about your success as you take on the best that Europe has to offer.”

By Kevin Carney