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Dublin: 0°C Sunday 24 January 2021
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Meet Ireland's Paralympic team: Equestrian, table tennis and football

Ireland have qualified for the 7-a-side football tournament for the first time.

THE 2016 PARALYMPIC Games is just around the corner with 4,500 athletes from all over the world ready to compete in Rio. Over the course of the next week, we’ll introduce the 48 members of Team Ireland…

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Equestrian, table tennis and football

Helen Kearney

Event: Dressage, Championship test, Freestyle test
Classification: Grade la
Age: 27
County: Wicklow

Four years ago, Helen Kearney came away from London with a silver and a bronze medal from her first Paralympics and the hope this time around is that she can emulate her unheralded success. She will be riding a new horse in Rio after losing her previous one to injury last year.

Helen Kearney rides Mister Cool and wins Bronze

Rena McCarron-Rooney

Event: Table Tennis Singles
Classification: TT2
County: Donegal

Rena McCarron Rooney Source: Courtney Crow

Donegal woman Rena McCarron-Rooney will be competing at her second Paralympics and does so as a silver medallist at the European Championships. Coached by her husband, Ronan Rooney, she gave up her job to go full-time and fully concentrate on qualifying for Rio.

Ireland 7-a-side football squad

Luke Evans (captain)
Age: 26
County: Dublin

Luke Evans is Ireland’s captain and plays his football with Glebe North in Balbriggan. The right-back has won over 50 caps and scored the vital goal against Argentina that secured his team’s place in Rio. Away from the sport, Evans is a commercial project controller with Siemens.

Tomiwa Badun
Age:
19
County:
Louth

Tomiwa Badun is a relatively new addition to the squad but has already made a big impact, scoring a couple of goals in his 10 caps to date. The 19-year-old is currently studying Sports, Recreation and Exercise Management at Drogheda Institute of Further Education.

Cormac Birt
Age:
20
County:
Antrim

Cormac Birt will be making his Ireland debut out in Rio. The midfielder plays his club football with Realta na Cromoige and is an accountancy student.

Peter Cotter
Age:
20
County:
Cork

Having made his debut four years ago, Peter Cotter is one of the more experienced members of this Ireland squad. The Corkman is studying Recreation and Leisure Management in CIT.

Joseph Markey
Age:
29
County:
Monaghan

Joseph Markey is the team’s left-back and Ireland’s most capped player with close to 70 international caps. He plays for TEK United and is a credit analyst at Bank of Ireland.

Carl McKee
Age:
18
County: Dublin

Carl McKee is one of the team’s rising teenagers and plays at right-back. The 18-year-old has just completed his Leaving Cert and plays for Swords Manor.

Brian McGillivary
Age:
27
County:
Dublin

As the team’s goalkeeper, there is a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Brian McGillivary. The Dubliner from Firhouse has won close to 40 caps and works as a stock operations manager.

Ryan Nolan
Age:
24
County:
Wicklow

Ryan Nolan is one of the squad’s two players from Bray. The striker has already won a dozen caps and has found the net in a handful of those games.

Eric O’Flaherty
Age:
21
County: Galway

Eric O’Flaherty is the sole representative from Connacht and plays his club football with Galway’s West United.

Dillon Sheridan
Age:
19
County:
Dublin

Dubliner Dillion Sheridan is the team’s top marksman and in his short time in international football has already scored two hat-tricks. He was named man of the tournament at the pre-Paralympic competition in May. The 19-year-old plies his trade for Ballyfermot FC.

Aaron Tier
Age:
21
County:
Limerick

Aaron Tier has just completed a course in Sports Development and Coaching at Limerick IT. The striker plays for Limerick Star Rovers.

Conor Tuite
Age:
19
County:
Louth

Conor Tuite is one of six teenagers in the travelling party. The Drogheda native plays for Boyne Harps.

Ryan Walker
Age:
19
County:
Armagh

Ryan Walker will another making his debut in Rio. The student is looking to become a personal trainer in the near future.

Gary Messett
Age:
28
County:
Wicklow

One of the team’s stalwarts, Gary Messett has won 70 caps for Ireland and is the country’s top goalscorer.

Medal chances

Helen Kearney is a rider with great pedigree and based on form and previous results, she should be in the running to add to her already impressive haul. Similarly, Rena McCarron-Rooney is an experienced campaigner and knows what it takes to succeed. If she can replicate the type of performances she produced at the Europeans, who knows what’s achievable.

The Paralympic Games takes place between 7 and 18 September. Follow The42′s coverage from Rio here.

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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