The community in Loughrea, Co Galway will come together on May 1 and 2 to try to break three Guinness World Records to raise funds to send athletes and coaches from the HSE Loughrea Training Centre to the Special Olympics Ireland Games in June.
The record-breaking attempts will include the most players in a hurling exhibition match, the longest distance with a hurl and sliothar, and the longest playing hurling marathon, and will include participation from the local primary and secondary schools, GAA clubs, the Gardaí, Civil Defence, the business sector and wider community.
The funding raised from the two day event will be used to send eight athletes who attend the HSE Loughrea Training Centre, along with two coaches, to participate in the Special Olympics Ireland Games in Limerick from June 12 to 15. The team will include badminton players Justin Robinson and Stephen Cunniffe, table tennis player Shane Nevin, pitch and putt player Simon Lowry, and football players Kevin Hardiman, Raymond Mc Clern, Nicholas Grealish, and Eoin O’Hara, and their two coaches Terence Flynn, special needs instructor, Loughrea Training Centre and NUI Galway student Patric Evason.
Terence Flynn, a coach with Special Olympics Connacht and the driving force behind the record-breaking attempts, said: “This unique occasion will provide the local community with an ideal opportunity to put Loughrea on the map, while at the same time raising funds for a very worthy cause. It will also help raise awareness locally of the Loughrea Training Centre and the valuable work that goes on there, and hopefully create social inclusion through community involvement.
“The Special Olympics is often the only place where people with intellectual disabilities have an opportunity to participate in sport and competition, where they can gain acceptance from others and form life-long friendships. Now, with the support of the people of Loughrea and indeed County Galway as a whole, we hope to create a memorable and remarkable event that will unite everyone towards the one objective - that of raising enough funds to send our athletes to the Special Olympics.”
The potentially record breaking events include the most players in a hurling exhibition match, which will see between 1,200 and 1,400 children from the local schools in Loughrea, including St Raphael’s and St Brigid’s Vocational school, playing at the local hurling pitch St Brendan’s. This will give children who have never hurled before the opportunity to play the game for the first time and to be involved in the community coming together for a deserving cause. The longest playing hurling marathon will aim to play non-stop for 25 hours in an effort to beat the current world record which is held by Cloughbawn GAA Club in Wexford. The longest distance with a hurl and sliothar will see participants run up to 54 kilometres from Pearse Stadium in Salthill to St Brendan’s Stadium in Loughrea.
If you are interested in helping or participating in the record-breaking events in Loughrea on May 1 and 2, or if you wish to donate towards the fund to send athletes to the Special Olympics Ireland Games, you can contact Terence Flynn or Michael Maher on 091 842333 or 085 1953363, email terence. [email protected], or Loughrea Guinness World Record for Special Olympics, Loughrea Training Centre, Lake Road, Loughrea, Co Galway.