Great welcome home for Special Olympic heroes

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john.ocallaghan

Offaly’s star Special Olympic athletes were greeted with a heroes’ welcome after a dazzling display at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.

Damien Breslin, Mark Sadler and Oisin Feery touched down in Dublin airport along with their fellow team mates on Friday last where they were met by footie legend, Niall Quinn and hundreds of elated family, friends and fans.

Damien, from Clareen, secured a good medal in the 4X25m freestyle relay swimming event on the first day of the competition while his team mates, Kilcormac’s Mark Sadler won gold in the singles tenpin bowling event and 17 year old, Oisin Feery, from Tullamore, claimed gold in the 200m kayaking event along with a bronze medal in the 500m event.

Offaly County Council will host a civic reception for Offaly’s three Special Olympic World Games gold medalists in April. The decision was announced at the March meeting of county councillors on Monday, March 25 where Cllr Danny Owens led the tributes to the athletes.

The trio travelled home to Offaly last Friday where they were greeted by rapturous celebrations in Clareen, Kilcormac and Tullamore over the weekend.

On Friday evening, 23 year old Damien's return was marked by the local national school children, who lit a bonfire and held a guard of honour as the community of Clareen came out in force to mark the momentous occasion at the nearby GAA club house.

There was also a homecoming in Kilcormac on Friday night for Mark Sadler, with a great welcome greeting him in the Square as he returned to his home town.

Then on Saturday night, a joint homecoming was hosted by both the Breslin and Mark's family, the Sadlers, in Dooly's Hotel, Birr.

See page 11 for full report and more photographs.

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