“Hosting this event is a great honour for our country and we can’t wait to welcome some incredible Para athletes from right across the continent to Dublin.”
Dublin is gearing up for the 2018 World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships, which get underway on 13 August. More than 70,000 Irish sport fans and the An Taoiseach, Ireland’s prime minister, have been invited to attend the Euros by Team Ireland in a busy week for the Para swimmers.
First stop was Croke Park, the home the Irish national sports Gaelic football and hurling, during the Cork-Limerick hurling semi-final clash on Sunday.
Swimmers Patrick Flanagan, Ailbhe Kelly, Jonathan McGrath and Sean O’Riordan were invited onto the pitch at half time and McGrath took the microphone to encourage fans to come and watch Europe’s best swimmers at the National Aquatic Centre.
"Being from Clare hurling is a way of life so to be able to step onto the most famous hurling pitch in the world was a dream come through. Even though Clare weren’t playing I made sure that 71,000 people knew I was from Clare by wearing my jersey. Now I can’t wait to put on my Ireland gear and show what I can do in my own sport,” said McGrath.
The next day, it was time for Flanagan and Kelly to make a more formal visit when Prime Minister Leo Varadkar welcomed the two at the Government Buildings as the Euros are the biggest Para sport event ever to take place in Ireland.
“Hosting this event is a great honour for our country and we can’t wait to welcome some incredible Para athletes from right across the continent to Dublin,” Varadkar said.
“It will be a proud moment as our athletes, including Patrick Flanagan and Ailbhe Kelly, get to compete in front of our legendary Irish sporting fans. I'm really looking forward to the event and I would like to wish Team Ireland the very best of luck throughout the week.”
Eight swimmers will represent the hosts at the competition with Nicole Turner, James Scully, Barry McClements and Rio 2016 medallist Ellen Keane alongside Flanagan, Kelly, McGrath and O’Riordan.
Visit the Paralympics Ireland website to buy tickets for the World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships.