Eddie McAuliffe (on right) with Polish Embassy charge d'affaires Piotr Rwkowski.

Offaly representative scores bronze at transplant championships

Offaly’s only representative at the eighth European Transplant and Dialysis Championships has secured a bronze medal in the petanque competition.

Eddie McAuliffe from Portarlington picked up the medal in his 40-49 age category at what was his first time competing in the sport.

The local man who received a kidney from his donor sister Anne said his competition day was “long but really enjoyable”, and added that he’s delighted with his bronze medal.

Eddie is one of a 34-strong Team Ireland that flew to Poland last weekend for the games that end on Friday. Ranging in age from 16 to 76, all members of the team have faced huge personal health battles with uncertain outcomes and are now embracing life through sport, as well as honouring their donors.

Speaking after his win Eddie said his first competition is a positive experience. “It’s competitive but great craic at the same time,” he explained. “It was a long but really enjoyable day. There was great sportsmanship. It’s my first time every picking up a petanque ball in competitive sport so I’m delighted with my bronze.”

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has described the team’s participation at the games as “truly an inspiration” to those currently undergoing kidney dialysis or who are waiting in hope for other organs. He also promised to make an effort to increase the number of people donating organs and the number of successful transplantations.

This year saw the largest ever Irish team travel for a European Transplant and Dialysis Championships. The team includes ten newcomers, as well as former international sports stars Richard Costello, who in the past played rugby with Garryowen and Ireland; Mary Sheehan, who in the 80s represented Ireland for several years in table tennis and former number one darts player Sean Marshall.