Munster team to wipe floor with Olympic rivals

Roy Keane’s neighbour and namesake has one thing over the famous footballer.

Roy Saville is the only Olympian from the Mayfield suburb of Cork City where both Roys grew up.

Roy is a member of Team Ireland who travel to Pyeongchang in South Korea on Friday to take part in the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games. The games begin yesterday and run until Feb 6.

There are 14 athletes on the team. Six will compete in the Alpine Skiing event, while eight will participate in the sport of floorball, a fast-paced game similar to hockey or, as coach Martin O’Leary describes it, “like ice hockey without the ice”.

Ireland’s floorball team all come from Munster and train in the Cope Foundation in Cork, The Brothers of Charity in Lisnagry, and The Brothers of Charity in Waterford.

Roy trains at the Cope Foundation with three of the floorball team members, Sean Murphy from Gurranabraher in Cork City, Brendan O’Sullivan from Mallow, and Midleton man Joseph McCarthy.

They are all hard workers, says Martin. “They are all good lads. There is no messing with them and they have brilliant commitment. I hope they do as well as they deserve to.”

Roy’s proud father, Pat Saville, will travel with the team and is looking forward to what he describes as “a trip of a lifetime”.

Other team members are equally excited and have put in months of training. They even agreed to going on a special diet to make sure they were at the peak of fitness for the event.

“It means we couldn’t have burgers,” says Joseph, the team chatterbox, who jokes he wouldn’t be taking any chances with the special diet because of the recent horsemeat furore.

Joseph works in the horticulture department at Cope and is chuffed that all Team Ireland members come from Munster.

“It means we are famous down here,” he says with pride.

Brendan is naturally competitive and has won a number of floorball medals at Munster level.

Meanwhile, team goalie Sean Murphy has one of the hardest jobs of all, as, unlike the rest of the team, he doesn’t have a stick and must stop the ball with his body. He is quietly confident. “I have lots of padding on to help me,” he says.

The Games will feature more than 3,000 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from more than 100 countries. This is the first time that Ireland will be represented in floorball, a sport that began in Sweden in the 1970s and has now spread throughout the continent and the US.

Prior to the team’s departure, garda members and officers of the PSNI will take part in a Law Enforcement Torch Run on Thursday through the towns and cities that the athletes come from.

* www.specialolympics.ie

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