Irish trot away with 13-medal haul

WITH north Cork riders comprising so much of the team, it was fitting that Kevin O’Connor from Kanturk should be awarded Ireland’s first medal asevents got underway at the International Equestrian Centre in Kill yesterday.

The north Cork lad, competing in the Special Olympics World Games for the first time, took the bronze medal in division three behind Dmitry Badanin, representing a strong Russian team, and his Irish team-mate, John Deevy, whocollected the silver medal at the start of what was to be a memorable day for the Irish.

At the end they would have four gold, four silver and five bronze medals after the competitions contested in glorious sunshine, although some of the most exciting battles were fought out in the cool of the magnificent indoor arena.

The gold medallists were Stephen Roche, Jane Spillane, Dessie Gonoude and Mary Crosse, while silver went to Mary Swift, Gerard Healy, John Deevy and Niall Masterson.

The bronze medallists were Eimer O'Callaghan, Michael Joyce, Anne Foley, Kevin O'Connor and Ashlene Coleman.

Head coach Rosalind Telford was as excited as she was relieved at the end of the day as she, too, shared in the glory with the promise of more to come before the week is out.

"This morning we were just hoping for the best, but the guys went out there and produced the stuff for us," she said.

"We were up against some pretty stiff opposition there. The Russians were well trained and very well schooled and so were the Polish and American riders."

She said she had been working with this team for the past year, holding monthly squad sessions at the Lalor Centre in Baltinglass, but she still did not know what to expect when they went into action before a big crowd on a glorious but very hot day.

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