Limerickâ€™s first representative at the Special Olympics World Winter Games has been given a fitting send-off.
James Murphy, from Corbally, is one of 14 Irish competitors who left for PyeongChang, South Korea on Friday ahead of the event which started on Saturday and runs to February 6.
James carried the Special Olympicsâ€™ own version of the Olympic torch into the Stables Club at the University of Limerick to heartwarming applause.
Accepting the â€œflame of hopeâ€ on behalf of UL was director of sport, Dave Mahedy. â€œThe Special Olympics are very, very special friends of ours,â€ he said.
â€œCongratulations to James on going to South Korea and representing us. Itâ€™s a great occasion for us to welcome the Special Olympics.â€
These fund-raising events are part of the Special Olympicsâ€™ Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) which aims to get local gardai involved in supporting the games.
James, when asked how his preparation had been going, said: â€œTraining, training for months!â€ The entire floorball team, a demonstration sport in the 2013 games, hails from Munster.
â€œHopefully the Munster Floorball team will be as good as the Munster Rugby team,â€ commented Inspector Luke Conlon, Henry Street garda station, to rapturous applause.
â€œItâ€™s good for the people of Limerick. Weâ€™ve a long association with the Special Olympics going back to the 1990s and Iâ€™m hoping this will continue.
â€œIt was absolutely brilliant when it was here in 2010. It was a great boost for all the people who came to the city to see how Limerick can support, encourage and engage with all the people.
â€œHopefully that will be the same again next year,â€ continued Insp Conlon, in anticipation of the 2014 Special Olympics Irish National Games, which will be held at UL again, following a successful staging in 2010.
James and the torch continued on their route from UL to Castletroy College and finally to the Daughters of Charity, Lisnagry, where jubilant supporters welcomed James.
The Daughters of Charity is where James put in those months of training.