PHOTOS: Brilliant Week For Tralee Team At International Children’s Games

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Some of the Tralee team ready for the Opening Ceremony.

THE silver medal performance of Kieran Keane in the Shot Put was the crowning glory of what was a brilliant week at the ICG Coventry Games for all Tralee teams.

In a week of excellent performances from the Kerry athletes in basketball, swimming and on the track, the young Lispole man rose to the occasion in style on the opening day of competition to secure second spot behind his German opponent in the Final.

The medal presentation ceremony was witnessed with great joy by teammates, coaches and travelling supporters, which included his brother and his proud parents Vincent and Bernie.

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The Keane family with silver medal winner Kieran

The Coventry Games of 2022 will live long in the memory of athletes, coaches and supporters who travelled with the team for the organisation of the competitions, the great games and performances seen in the pool, on the track and on the basketball courts, as will the sweltering heat in Coventry for the week, reaching highs of 32-34 degrees.

In total 1500 athletes from over 80 cities and 35 countries across the globe participated in this year’s Games, the first since the Covid pandemic.

Competitions opened on Saturday last with the 3v3 basketball. The ladies had three games in the morning between 10-12pm and Kelly Fitzgerald, Lucy O Connor, Anna Collins and Jill Quirke gave sterling performances in the hot conditions.

Girls basketball team

First up against North Sydney — eventual silver medallists — they lost by just one point 9-8. Halifax of Canada provided the opposition in game 2 and after another battling performance Tralee went down by 3 points, 9-6.

Their third game resulted in a 17-6 victory over Athens of Greece. The final group game against Klaipeda of Poland on Sunday was level 8-8 at full time. Extra time is decided by the first team to reach 2 points and regrettably Tralee lost by 2-1 after yet another fantastic performance.

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The girls were recognized throughout the Games for their toughness, fighting spirit and work-rate against teams that were generally much bigger and stronger physically.

In the afternoon it was the boys turn. Gearoid White, Fionnan Ryan, Brayden Piece and Johnny Dawson were playing in 34 degrees heat against East Samos of Greece and went down 6-4 in their opening very tight match.

Boys and girls basketball teams

Next up was the Hadera team from Israel and while they were a more seasoned outfit the fighting spirit of the boys kept them in the game, before losing on a 17-12 score line.

Game 3 was against a very strong Montreux team from Switzerland, who eventually won 18-9.

On Sunday the team played and won two matches and in the process gave an exhibition against Jesinice of Slovenia in game 4.

It was one of those games where for once everything dropped for the shooters and they won the games 21-9 in 8 minutes flat before a very large Tralee crowd.

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Their confidence was up and Innsbruck of Austria was defeated 15-7 in their final group game. The boys’ final was won by Kaunas of Lithuania.

At the University on Saturday the athletics competitions began early morning with the 100m heats. Saoirse Dillon won her heat to qualify for the semi final where she was placed third.

Girls athletics team

This was qualified her for the B Final where again she placed third, all of which reflects well on the quality of her performances.

David Lane also ran a great 100m heat, finishing second and qualifying for the semis, where he finished fifth.

Emma Neylon made the B final also in the 400m event finishing 5th and Mollie O’Riordan qualified for the 800m B final with excellent runs in her heats where she finished second.

Kieran Keane opted out of the 100m to concentrate on the shot, and as events transpired this was a good call.

His final took place at 4:30 in the evening after the qualifying rounds and the medal ceremony took place a little over an hour and a half later, by which time many of the Kerry athletes had made their way back to the track to celebrate the event with the team.

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Lily May O’Gara, Zala O’Connor, Rachel Barry and Laurel Mason were always going to be history makers for Tralee ICG, being the first ever relay team to represent us in the pool, in the 4 x 100m freestyle event on Sunday evening.

Prior to that however, they competed in breast stroke, backstroke, and freestyle individual events and distances and the most pleasing aspects of their performances was the number of PB’s that were equalled or surpassed.

Swimming team.

In the relay event they produced a superb performance, again in a best time for the group, but not fast enough to make the semi finals.

The ICG delegation and their supporters returned to Farranfore on Tuesday evening August 16th, still buzzing from the experience of the Games as athletes, parents and family members.

For Tralee ICG chairman Mike Culloty the presence of the parents and family members added considerably to the experience: “This was our 16th Games since we first went to Coventry in 2005, where we had two parents with us. This year it was 42 supporters and I can honestly say that athletes, parents and coaches all fed off one another to bring out the very best out of one another in terms of performance and support.

Athletes ready for action

“Together we created a fantastic atmosphere around our athletes, coaches and their events. The weather definitely had a bearing on overall enjoyment, but ultimately, as always, it’s the children themselves who make it all so worthwhile, with their smiles, their joy, their excitement, their enthusiasm and their appreciation. Memories of this week in Coventry will never be lost and will always be remembered with great joy”.

Mike also reiterated his thanks to all local people and businesses that make it all possible by their support in the ICG fundraising activities and to the coaches who take time out of their busy lives for a week to take responsibility for the children at the Games.

Mike Culloty and Kieran Keane at Medal Ceremony

Paula Henry acted as Head of Delegation, and coaches Ger Mc Donnell, John Byrne, Ruth O Keeffe and Dearbhail Foley organised the children at the accommodation and at their events throughout the week.

The final word goes to Lily May O’Gara, who when asked how she rated the Games experience replied without any hesitation “10 out of 10”.

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