More medal joy for Ireland’s Transplant Golfers Down Under

Transplant Team Ireland golfers Nick Heather (Silver), Pat O'Sullivan, Tony Gavigan, Ron Grainger (Bronze), Hugh Nolan (Gold) and Mike Kiely.

It proved to be another Golden day lined in Silver and Bronze for Transplant Team Ireland at the World Transplant Games in Perth. After winning Gold and Silver in the Golf Pairs event on Monday, the golfers kept up their sterling form and with a Corkman securing his second Gold medal at the Games, and two Dubliners winning Silver and Bronze competing in golf singles events at the Par 70 Wembley Golf Course. Earlier in Darts an Irish teammate, Teresa Smyth, a grandmother from Riverstown in Galway, picked up a Silver medal in Darts at another venue.

This brings Transplant Team Ireland’s tally of medals so far at the World Transplant Games for the 14 strong Irish team to 3 Gold, 5 Silver and 1 Bronze with more competition to take place before the games come to a close on Saturday.

Playing under 26 degrees sunshine on Wembley Golf Course today (Wednesday),  Corkman Hugh Nolan from Doneraile, who plays off scratch,  picked up a Gold medal for his 33 points scoring 1 over (71 shots) in golf singles. This was his second Gold medal win at the Games for the kidney transplant recipient having won the Golf pairs event on Monday with his teammate Pat O’Sullivan, also from Cork. Hugh stood proudly at the medals podium today (Wednesday) with second placed teammate and bone marrow transplant recipient Nick Heather, from Sutton, Dublin who has been living in Melbourne for 12 years.  Nick, with a handicap of 6, won Silver today for his 32 points scoring 7 over (77 shots) in the lowest golf handicap category 1 and was followed by a South African who won bronze.


Hugh Nolan (47) who had been receiving dialysis treatment for 9 years before being called for a transplant said after his golden success, “the course was very tricky today, it has tight tree lined fairways that punish any stray shots. I’d like to thank my nephew Eoghan for travelling to Australia to support me, and my playing partners including Nick and his family for their excellent support all day. I’d also like to thank my work colleagues for covering to allow me to make the trip. And of course, my kidney donor for making it all possible.”

Nick Heather (age 36) asserted after his win that, “Today was one of the best days of my life, as not only did I win a Silver medal but my granny ‘Goggi’ who was watching me back home on a social media feed while waiting in hospital, was given the ‘all clear’ today after experiences  serious health issues for some time. It’s wonderful being here at the World Transplant Games, my first time to be part of Transplant Team Ireland, and meeting people who have been through similar experiences as me with the same zest for life after being given a second chance.”

Describing his golf play Nick said,

“Today was tough, windy and the course was tight and it really punishes you for any stay shots. There were lots of very good golfers there today with low handicaps and I was lucky to come away with a medal.  It was wonderful to have my mum there as she travelled out from Dublin to be with me and also along my best mate Mark and a whole group of friends who came down from Melbourne to support me and not forgetting my wife who was sharing every single shot I made around the course on Instagram. Most of all I would like to thank my sister for being my stem donor and without her I would not be here.”

Ron Grainger, from Castleknock, Dublin, is one of the most senior members of Transplant Team Ireland. The retired consultant urologist and kidney transplant recipient played  in a higher handicap category won a Bronze medal for his scored 29 points, and shared the medals podium with a Frenchman who was placed 1st and a South African who was placed 2nd.  This was Ron’s second medal for Golf at the games as he won a Silver on Monday in the Golf Pairs with teammate Tony Gavigan from Longford.

After his Bronze medal success today, Ron said, “Today was particularly challenging because we were playing off significantly reduced handicaps that meant that scoring was very difficult. Again, I was surprised and delighted to have won and received a medal in a very competitive group. What’s more the joy of being well enough to compete in these games with fellow recipients from all over the world is fantastic. I’m so grateful to my donor and their family, and all my friends and family for supporting me.”

On the first day of competition, bone marrow transplant recipient Mairead O’Mahony from Berrings in Cork won a Silver medal in the 5km Road Race.

Ranging in age from 36 right up to 75, the current Transplant Team Ireland panel of 10 inspirational men and 4 women travelling to Perth for the World Transplant Games have all received organ transplants including 2 liver, 2 bone marrow, and 10 kidney. They will be among 1,524 participants from 46 countries, all embracing their gift of life and honouring their donors in this celebration of life through sport.

Competition at the Games is by age category and Transplant Team Ireland will have representatives  in the following eleven sports:  Cycling; Darts; Golf; Lawn Bowls; Petanque; Road Race; Swimming; Table Tennis; Ten Pin Bowling; Tennis; and Triathlon.

Each of the athletes is funding their participation in the Games (Games registration, flights, accommodation, and meals) through fundraising in the name of the Irish Kidney Association/Transplant Team Ireland, and using their own funds.  The team is proud to wear the Team Kit which, this year, has been sponsored by the Health Services Staffs Credit Union (HSSCU).

 To find out more about the World Transplant Games visit website and to find out more about members of Transplant Team Ireland and to follow their progress at the Games, you can follow the team blog;  The World Transplant Games has its own App. which contains information on competition schedules, venue locations and results, just search for WTG Event in the App store.

THE FULL IRISH PANEL IS AS FOLLOWS INCLUDING THEIR TRANSPLANT ORGAN  (their individual ‘athlete profiles’ are on the team blog ) :-

CARLOW:  Brian Duignan, Palatine (kidney)

Tony Gartland, Hacketstown near WICKLOW (Liver)

CORK:  Michael Kiely, Ballylanders, Mitchelstown, on LIMERICK border (living kidney donor)

Pat O’Sullivan, Mallow (kidney)

Hugh Nolan, Donaraile (kidney)

Mairead O’Mahony, Berrings (bone marrow)

GALWAY:  Teresa Smyth, Williamstown, Dunmore, Tuam (kidney)

KILDARE: Bernadette Cox, Newbridge (kidney)

LIMERICK: John Loftus, Clarina (kidney)

MEATH: Tony Gavigan, Navan and native of LONGFORD father of deceased donor (kidney)

TIPPERARY: Sheila Gregan, Nenagh, (kidney)

DUBLIN: Ron Grainger, Castleknock, D 15 (kidney)

Finbar O’Regan, Pearse Street, Dublin 2 (Liver)

Nick Heather, Sutton, Dublin, now living in Melbourne, Australia (bone marrow)

TEAM MANAGER, Colin White from Balbriggan, Dublin

While some of the team will be extending their time in Australia after the World Transplant Games conclude, about half of the team will return home on Sunday, 23rd April on a Qatar flight to Dublin airport’s Terminal One and their flight is scheduled to land at 1.40pm

Individuals who wish to support organ donation are encouraged to Share their Wishes with their family and keep the reminders of their decision available by carrying the organ donor card, permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s licence or having the ‘digital organ donor card’ App on their smartphone. Organ Donor Cards can be requested by visiting the IKA website or  to your phone, phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050.

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