Brothers Joe and John Paul Shaw of Longford town have achieved Olympic Gold at the Special Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Joe, who captained the Irish five a-side soccer team to victory, was joined on the podium by his brother John Paul and their team mates.
The brothers, who are members of Shooting Stars Special Olympics Club in Mullingar, have been coached at club level since the early 1990s by Michael Keenan of Newtownforbes.
“It’s a dream come true for the lads,” said Michael, speaking to the Leader earlier this week. “They really had a great tournament where they played Cyprus, Finland and East Timor. Joe scored the last goal for the Irish team.”
The dream to win gold at the World Games finally came true in dramatic style last Saturday (July 2) after Ireland played Cyprus in a heart-stopping final at Hellinikon Olympic Stadium.
After full-time neither team had scored, followed by a one-all result after extra time, with Ireland’s only goal scored by Joe. The Irish team dramatically then went on to win after the penalty shoot-out resulted in sudden death. Two penalties were scored by John Paul.
Following the exciting victory, captain Joe Shaw emotionally thanked all the people involved in making his dream come true. “It has been a long road. There are so many people we need to thank who have helped us get where we are today.”
Joe also captained the Connacht team at the Ireland Games in Limerick last year securing a silver medal.
“We’ve been searching for the gold for the past eight years. At the World Games in Ireland in 2003, we won bronze and were placed 4th in Shanghai in 2007,” said John Paul who previously represented Ireland at national and international level.
The Special Olympics World Summer Games took place in Athens, Greece between June 25 and July 4. It was made up of 7,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 185 countries competed in 22 sports. 126 athletes on Team Ireland participated across 12 sports, winning over 100 medals.