Ireland’s golfers returned home from the World Transplant Games in Newcastle with a stunning nine medals from Close House Golf Filly Course.
Tony Gavigan from Navan, Co Meath was part of a very strong golf team of twelve golfers who secured an impressive 3 Gold, 2 Silver and 4 Bronze medals for the team in individual and golf pairs events held at Graham Wylie’s course.
Headfort’s Gavigan combined with Castleknock’s Ron Grainger to win one Bronze in the Golf pairs competition. Tony also won a Silver medal and Ron won a Bronze for their individual golf scores on another day.
In April this year Tony and Ron were part of the Irish Golf team that won the 5 Nations Transplant Golf Shield in Livingston, Scotland.
Other Irish golfers who were awarded with medals were Garry Campbell (Gold), Michael Dwyer (Gold), Marie O’Connor (Gold), John McAleer (Silver) and Eoin Hurley (Bronze).
All winning golfers were presented with their medals by Graham Wylie, who is Chairman of the World Transplant Games 2019 committee and owner of the prestigious championship golf course.
The oldest member of the 38 strong transplant Team Ireland, John McAleer (81) from Newtownabbey, Antrim won a Silver medal in Golf for his Gross score and also won a Gold in another event Petanque. John, a retired University of Ulster lecturer and head of department had been out on a golf course when he got called for his kidney transplant.
Tony Gavigan, a retired Garda said, after receiving his bronze, “We played in windy conditions on both competition days. Although it’s supposed to be the easier of the two courses at Close House, ‘The Filly’ was quite demanding and is still a difficult course to play.
“There was huge interest in the golf with a lot of spectators as friends and supporters showed up and the days proved very emotional for some of the golfers as they remembered their donors. The Irish team stood out and on the first day, 7 of the 12 golfers on the team got medals for their individual scores and all of them thanked their donors for their success.
“Our team is special, we put in a strong effort and in the lead up to the games we all practiced together at Greystones, The Heritage and Mitchelstown. We have a strong bond and support one another.”
Retired medic Ron Grainger who worked as a Urologist said, “I am just so grateful to be here. I came with no expectations and winning two medals is extraordinary but more importantly I am here and well enough to play golf to a reasonable standard with a team that are so close and supportive.
“Myself and the rest of the team have a huge sense of gratitude to our donors and for being able to keep going and enjoy life. Athletics has been my go-to sport but now as I am getting older competing in track and field events against people who can be ten years younger than me, it is challenging. I am moving away from this and can continue to enjoy golf.”
Also playing with the golf team were Corkmen Pat O’Sullivan and Michael Kiely and James Nolan from Kildare, Kieran Murray from Donegal and Philip Kavanagh, Wicklow.