Paralympics Ireland today announced its 2014 Athlete Panel. The panel of forty five athletes across eleven sports is comprised of those considered most likely to qualify for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. The panel will come together for the first time as a group in March when they meet for the initial multisport training camp of the Rio cycle, in Limerick.

Commenting on the announcement of the 2014 Panel Paralympics Ireland Performance Manager Dave Malone said; ‘Being named on the panel is always a notable step on the journey to secure Paralympic Games qualification for an athlete. We are looking forward to the first engagement as one entity in Limerick in what is set to be another busy year with a European or World Championships as the focus for the majority of athletes.’

The panel boasts several London 2012 medallists including athletes Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop, swimmer Darragh McDonald and handcyclist Mark Rohan. Also notable is the welcome return of the 7-a-side CP football squad who agonisingly missed out on London qualification. Promisingly, there is one athlete each from the two sports set to make their Paralympic debut in Rio; Canoeing and Triathlon, on the panel.

Alongside those named an additional twenty athletes from eleven sports will attend the Limerick camp under Paralympics Ireland’s new Fast Track Programme.  This programme provides ring fenced supports for promising athletes that have emerged from the post London 2012 talent search.

With the 2016 Paralympic Games Qualification guide recently published by the International Paralympic Committee targets can clearly be set ahead of the qualification period opening early next year. 2014 will provide many competition opportunities with European Championships in Swimming, Athletics and Football, and World Track and Road Championships in Para-cycling, amongst others (detailed below).

Some notable retirements following the 2012 Games include six time Paralympian Catherine Walsh who claimed tandem cycling silver and bronze in London. Distinguished and decorated Boccia players Gay Shelly and Tom Leahy step aside after five and eight Paralympic Games respectively. Following Equestrian Dressage team bronze at London double Paralympian Eilish Byrne and horse Youri have retired, as has fellow double Paralympian table tennis player Eimear Breathnach who now chairs the Athletes Commission at Paralympics Ireland.

2014 Paralympics Ireland Athlete Panel

Athletics (7)  Jason Smyth (Derry), Michael McKillop (Antrim), Orla Barry (Cork), Catherine O Neill (Wexford), Nadine Lattimore (Clontarf, Dublin), John Mc Carthy (Cork), Deirdre Mongan (Galway), Heather Jameson (Garristown, Dublin)

Boccia (2)   Roberta Connolly (Foxrock, Dublin), Johnny Cronin (Cork)

Canoeing (1)  Pat O’Leary (Galway)

Cycling (7)  Colin Lynch (Based in UK), Mark Rohan (Westmeath), Enda Smyth (Santry, Dublin), James Brown (Based in UK) + Brian MyCrystal (Pilot), Katie George Dunleavy (Based in UK) + Eve McCrystal (Pilot)

Equestrian (2)  Helen Kearney (Wicklow), James Dwyer (Waterford)

Football 7-A-Side (14)  Senior Panel -Brian Mc Gillivary (Firhouse, Dublin) ,Simon Lestrange (Mullingar), Joe Markey (Monaghan), Luke Evans (Artane, Dublin), Gary Messett (Wicklow),Daragh Snell (Wicklow), Eric O Flaherty (Galway), Daragh Byrne (Santry, Dublin), Podge Leacy (Wexford), Peter Cotter (Cork), Aaron Tier (Limerick), Tom Badun (Drogheda), Dillon Sheridan (Ballyfermot), Ryan Nolan (Wicklow)

Sailing (3) John Twomey (Cork), Ian Costello (Kerry), Austin O’Carroll (Cork)

Shooting (1)  Sean Baldwin (Kildare)

Swimming (5) Ellen Keane (Clontarf, Dublin), Darragh McDonald (Wexford), Laurence McGivern (Down), James Scully (Meath), Jonathan McGrath (Clare)

Table Tennis (2) Philip Quinlan (Sandymount, Dublin), Rena McCarron (Donegal)

Triathlon (1)   Michael Delaney (Dublin 3)

2014 Key International Competitions

4-11 Apr; IPC Powerlifting World Championships, Dubai

10-13 Apr; UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, Mexico

20-22 June; ETU Triathlon European Championships, Austria

17-26 July, IPC Shooting World Championships, Germany

20 July – 4 Aug; CPISRA Football 7-a-side European Championships, Portugal

4-10 Aug; IPC Swimming European Championships, Holland

18-23 Aug; IPC Athletics European Championships, Wales

24-13 Aug; FISA World Rowing Championships, Holland

25-29 Aug; FEI World Equestrian Games, France

28 Aug – 1 Sep; UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, USA

6-15 Sep; ITTF Para Table Tennis World Championships, China

8-21 Sep; IFDS Sailing World Championships, Spain

19-28 Sep; BISFED Boccia World Championships, China

TBC; ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, Italy