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Connacht Tribune

Putting in the long hours in pursuit of Special Olympics glory

Stephen Corrigan

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The athletes at Tuam Headford Special Olympics Club have their sights firmly set on gold at June’s National Games in Dublin.

Five athletes, competing in either swimming or rhythmic gymnastics, have been steadily training for months now in preparation for the games – having been selected to represent Connacht at the National Sports Campus.

Head Coach at the club, Patricia Creaven, says the five athletes selected have dedicated a huge amount of time and effort – and they will be giving it their all when they compete for their club, county and province.

“All they want is a medal – they are as competitive as any athletes. They get a ribbon for fourth, fifth and sixth place, and for participation, but none of them want them,” laughs Patricia.

“In training, week to week, it is as much about the social element of it all – but when it comes to completion, they really put their game faces on.”

The group going to Dublin is made up of two swimmers and three rhythmic gymnasts. Leah Costello is the club’s youngest athlete and at just eleven years old, she will compete in the gymnastics category.

Leah’s mother, Lorraine, says that the club is a real social outlet for the Scoil Bríd pupil, adding that she loves taking part alongside her friends.

“She might be nervous about the big crowd or the big place and all of the travelling because Leah has never been away from home,” says Lorraine.

The rhythmic gymnasts are each given the same routine to learn and they have been plugging away for months now – trying to perfect it before they take to the national stage, as Patricia explains.

“The three ladies that are doing the gymnastics have to do a routine with the ribbon, the ball and the hoop – it’s a three minute dance routine that they all have to follow.

“The training is quite difficult – there are six or seven stages that they have to do and there are very strict rules,” she says.

Joe Ward from Tuam will be swimming for Connacht in June and at 28 years old, the pool has become his second home since his first dip as a toddler.

Joe’s mother, Rose, says Joe’s autism has been greatly helped by swimming, giving him a sense of “complete freedom” in the pool.

“When he was two, he was very uncomfortable and when he was diagnosed with autism, we were advised to bring him to the pool – and he has been there since.

“His brother, Charles, brings him swimming four days a week and he loves it now – he is the baby of the family with two brothers and four sisters,” says Rose.

Like Joe, Ciara Nally will be taking to the pool and as an only child, her parents are very excited about the games.

Her father, Noel Nally, says Ciara is hugely competitive but loves the socialising that comes with the games.

“She’s looking forward to the disco,” laughs Noel. “We are very proud of her – the only thing she is nervous of is being away from home but it means that she gets to meet new friends and to compete in the games.”

Kawthar Yahya is the newest member competing for the club, having recently completed her schooling at St Joseph’s Special School.

Kawthar competed at the Limerick games four years ago and has stepped it up a gear this time around, says Patricia.

“In her school, Kawthar was at Level C and at that level, you can’t compete at the world games so she was pushed forward to do Level One which involves three routines and is a big step up.

“They were selected in July and we follow the school calendar so we only started training in September and she has to learn three new routines by June,” says Patricia.

But Kawthar is taking it all in her stride and according to her sister, Hayat, she’ll be hoping to add to an already well-decorated medal wall at home in Knocknacarra.

Maria Hannon will compete in gymnastics and has been involved in Special Olympics for 16 years.

Maria is a sports fanatic and achieved a personal goal when she met one of her sporting heroes, says Patricia.

“Maria loves Connacht Rugby; we got to go to the Sportsground in Galway and Maria, as a VIP, got to meet John Muldoon.

“This will be her second time competing in the games; last time, she competed in the basketball and it was the first Connacht team – and they won a bronze medal which was unbelievable,” she says.

Keeping the club going has been a labour of love for Patricia since she was inspired by the 2003 world games in Ireland.

And while it hasn’t always been easy, the success of athletes, in sport and in their development, is very rewarding, says Patricia.

“With each generation that goes through, we learn more and our club could be a lot bigger – we’re the only rhythmic gymnastics club in Galway outside of St Joseph’s and of the three athletes going from Connacht, they are all from our club.

“My mother, Vera Creavan, will be 77 this year and she volunteers – she never misses a week. I’ve roped in my best friend too,” says Patricia.

“We have Anne Woulfe and Sarah Steed who are both going to Dublin. We also have Donna Walsh, Breda Kennedy – Adriana Pacesiene who is doing her Leaving Cert in June and is just the sweetest lady; her sister is an athlete.”

Patricia hopes to see the treatment of Special Olympic athletes improve as each one still has to raise €460 themselves.

Numbers are also restricted for the world games with those selected drawn from a bowl rather than on merit.

This means that even if they win gold at national games, they are not guaranteed a spot at the worlds.

Nonetheless, she believes it is a hugely positive experience for all involved and says that each and every one of them will be proud to represent Connacht in June.

“The games take place on June 14, 15 and 16 and there will be 150 of us from Connacht heading to Dublin on the train from Ceannt Station in Galway – so we hope to see lots of support,” says Patricia.

Connacht Tribune

Increase exam grades this Christmas at Kilmartin Educational Services

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Second level students are making the most of their Christmas holidays by attending the ever popular Intensive Revision Courses in Kilmartin Educational Services, Limerick Ennis and online.  These courses are designed for Junior Cert and Leaving Certificate students sitting exams next June 2021 and who want to maximize their grades. Courses will be available onsite and online this year. All courses are taught by experienced teachers, many of whom are state examiners.  Class sizes onsite are limited in line with our Covid-19 health and safety policies 

The courses will provide effective and efficient revision by concentrating on the vital examination topics within a subject. These Intensive One Day Revision Courses are excellent value at €80 per course and are now better value than ever!  All courses run from 9.153.15pm. 

Students who simply wish to avail of daytime supervised study will also be catered for over the Christmas period from 9.45-4.30pm dailySupervised study pods are bright, spaciousdistraction free and well ventilated 

Due to a policy of limited enrolment on all courses, immediate booking is advisable. This Christmas, give the Gift of Exam Success by booking your revision Courses at Julie Kilmartin’s. Pricing information and timetables are available online at www.kes.ie. To book a place on any course, call Kilmartin Educational Services on 061-444989. 

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Connacht Tribune

Cherish every moment; hug and kiss your loved ones every night

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Happier days…Geraldine Mullan with her husband John and their children Tomas and Amelia.

Last August, GERALDINE MULLAN (née Connaughton) endured an unfathomable nightmare, losing her husband and two children in a crash that she herself was lucky to survive. Here the Williamstown native writes of life since – and how the support of so many has helped her over the last three months.

My husband John was a fan of Bruce Springsteen. In normal circumstances he would be currently enjoying Bruce’s latest album “Letter to You” and taking particular interest in the songs, especially the one entitled “House of a Thousand Guitars” (given John’s love of that instrument).

But these are not normal days and instead it is me appraising the new offering from The Boss and taking poignant note of some of the other lyrical melodies on the album, particularly those entitled “One Minute You’re Here” and “I’ll See You in my Dreams”.

These two songs in particular speak to my situation and have become musical reminders of my beloved departed, my husband John and our children Tomas and Amelia, who were cruelly taken from this world in late August of this year.

Since the tragedy unfolded, I have been surrounded by many wonderful people and wrapped up in their familial and communal embraces, all united in offering me solace, comfort, assistance and no end of love, understanding and compassion.

I stand each day and get through it, in no small part, due to the continuous support you provide to me.

Such is the outpouring and swell of sympathy and empathy alike, and many are the calls, messages, cards, letters, flowers, gifts, acts of service and human kindness which have reached my Moville doorstep, that I am truly overwhelmed, very much humbled and ever-grateful.

I am genuinely appreciative of it all and your love and caring has taken root in my heart and in my head. That being said, I am unable to respond to everyone individually, therefore this is my “Letter to You”, my simple way of acknowledgement and sincere thanks.

You can read Geraldine’s full, heart-breaking letter in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Early Christmas box for 13,500 Galway farmers

Francis Farragher

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CLOSE on 13,500 Galway farmers should be getting an early ‘Christmas Box’ this week with the final tranche of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) monies being paid out – ‘bang on schedule’, according to Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue.

Back in October, farmers got the 70% advance payment in BPS with a commitment given at the time that the balance would be paid out in early December – balancing payments under the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme are scheduled to commence next week.

Total BPS payments to Galway’s 13,500 farmers come to just over €82 million, according to figures released by local TDs this week, with the average individual payment per farmer working out at just over €6,000.

East Galway TD and Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte, said that the final tranche of the BPS payments was a most welcome one for thousands of farmers across the county after a most difficult year.

“The really important thing about these payments is that they are being made on schedule and they will help a lot of farmers to ‘balance the books’ for 2020,” said Minister of State, Rabbitte.

The Minister for Agriculture also confirmed this week that payments under the 2020 National Reserve and the Young Farmers Scheme will also commence alongside payment of the 2020 BPS balancing payment – this will also benefit a significant number of Galway farmers.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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