Local team lifts the province’s boccia title - again!

The all-conquering Portadown-Lurgan-Craigavon boccia team are congratulated by Aubrey Bingham of NI Disability Sports (in wheelchair). Eugene O'Hare is holding the trophy, left is Alex McVeigh and centre is Gareth Cunningham.
The all-conquering Portadown-Lurgan-Craigavon boccia team are congratulated by Aubrey Bingham of NI Disability Sports (in wheelchair). Eugene O'Hare is holding the trophy, left is Alex McVeigh and centre is Gareth Cunningham.

THREE local members of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society Portadown and Craigavon Branch are celebrating following their victory at the Disability Sport Northern Ireland Senior Boccia Championships.

Eugene O’Hare, Alex McVeigh and Gareth Cunningham enjoyed an impressive unbeaten run during the qualifying rounds at the competition in Lagan Valley Leisureplex, Lisburn. They met Ravenhill Technical KO in the final and won with a score of 4 -1.

The victory for the team – nicknamed ‘The MS Montys’ – is the latest in a line of successes. They also won the Southern Area Boccia Championships in 2012, and this year’s victory is a welcome return to form for the team who also won the NI title in 2011.

Eugene O’Hare, treasurer, MS Society Portadown and Craigavon branch, explained that the victory was even sweeter because of a local rivalry. “This year we decided to enter two teams, a ladies and a men’s team. There was definitely lots of healthy competition during training and at the competition. Both teams performed really well but I’m delighted that our team came out on top!” he said.

“Boccia is a great sport and is growing in popularity throughout Northern Ireland. It is similar to bowls and is a great way to relax, get some exercise and have fun. We train every week and I’d like to encourage anyone with MS in the local area who is interested in joining us to come along and give it a try.”

A total of 32 teams took part in the Northern Ireland Boccia Championships which is organised by Disability Sports NI. Boccia is a Paralympic sport for athletes with disabilities that have a major impact on motor skills. The sport has grown in popularity in recent years, especially following the high profile of the sport at the recent London 2012 Paralympic Games.

MS Society Portadown and Craigavon branch chairperson Rosie Whiteside commented, “Winning the Northern Ireland Boccia championships is a great achievement and a testament to the dedication and training of Eugene, Alex and Gareth. On behalf of the local branch I’d like to congratulate them”.

The MS Society Portadown and Craigavon Branch provides support and information for everyone affected by MS in the local area. The boccia group meet every week at Portadown Leisure Centre. Anyone living with MS is welcome to join the boccia group. For more information on the local MS Society branch contact Rosie Whiteside on 077 52342621 or email Susan Carey, Southern Area Development officer scarey@mssociety.org.uk