Triumphant Team Ireland touch down in Dublin to heroes' welcome

Triumphant Team Ireland touch down in Dublin to heroes' welcome
Team Ireland's Stephen Murphy is welcomed home by his mother Theresa. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Team Ireland have touched down on Irish soil after a very successful Special Olympic World Games.

The 91-strong team arrived in Dublin Airport to a heroes’ welcome this afternoon after a brilliant competition in Abu Dhabi.

After the seven days of sterling performances, Team Ireland returned with a haul of 86 medals, including 30 gold, 29 silver, and 27 bronze.

Family, friends and fans turned out in huge numbers from across the country to welcome home the athletes.

This year's Games have been heralded as one of the most successful ever for Team Ireland, with medal wins for the squad in all 12 sports: athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, swimming and table tennis.

Abu Dhabi welcomed 7,000 athletes from 170 countries to the Special Olympics in the past week.

Ahead of the team's arrival, President Michael D Higgins said the athletes had made the nation proud.

He said: "May I express our nation's pride in the athletes' achievements and our thanks for being such positive role models in society."

Minister for Sport Shane Ross also congratulated the team "on their fantastic success".

"I had the opportunity to meet many of our athletes at the Opening Ceremony of the Games and I know at first-hand how special this wonderful event is," he said.

“Representing your country at the Special Olympics World Summer Games is a tremendous honour for all the athletes and their families, coaches and supporters.

"You have all been the most wonderful ambassadors for your country, in every possible way, and we are very proud of you all," he said.

Team Ireland arrive. Photo: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Team Ireland arrive. Photo: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Speaking at the homecoming, Matt English, CEO of Special Olympics Ireland said: “The incredible achievements of our athletes over the last week has resulted in a ripple of pride across the country, as so many people – both at home and around the world – have followed their journey.

The medals, ribbons and personal bests they achieved were beyond all expectations but it was their energy, passion and pride that captured people’s hearts.

"Special Olympics is about more than just medals; these Games were a life-changing experience for our athletes and for everyone involved.

“We would also like to thank the volunteers, coaches, staff and families that have played such an important role in these Games, and in supporting our athletes to get to this point," he said.

The Team Ireland soccer team who won bronze medals with former Ireland International Niall Quinn on their return from the 2019 World Summer Games Abu Dhabi at Dublin Airport today. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile.
The Team Ireland soccer team who won bronze medals with former Ireland International Niall Quinn on their return from the 2019 World Summer Games Abu Dhabi at Dublin Airport today. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile.

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