'The Community Games were some of the best days of my life' - Paul O'Connell

Donn O'Sullivan, Sports Editor

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Donn O'Sullivan, Sports Editor

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sport@limerickleader.ie

'The Community Games were some of the best days of my life' - Paul O'Connell

Aldi Ambassador Paul O'Connell takes a selfie with a group of swimmers from Tipperary during the Aldi Community Games May Festival, which saw over 3,500 children take part in this weekend at UL

"The Community Games were some of the best days of my life": The words of former Ireland Rugby captain Paul O'Connell who was present at today's games at the University of Limerick. 

"It may not have been as serious as the other swimming I did, but the experience of Mosney for me was unreal," said the rugby legend.

"We had free access to the 'hurdy gurdys' as my mother would call them. The bumpers, wall of death and the swings. My first games were when I was 6. It was brilliant independence and great fun. The swimming was only part of it, the best thing was the craic," he laughed.

Over 3,000 athletes are in Limerick this weekend for Phase 1 of the national finals. Sports such as Rugby minis and cross country running are joined by swimming, basketball, handball and chess in the sprawling campus that is UL. (For a full schedule of events, click here)

Paul O'Connell, an ambassador for Aldi, the main sponsors of this years event, chatted to the Limerick Leader about how big a deal the community games are for him and the people involved from all over Ireland. 

"The medals are special. The medal was like an Olympics medal to us. I still have mine from my days in Mosney. Even though it was only two widths of the pool, the experience of getting there was special. I mean, we used to get a train up and the train actually stopped at Mosney. I mean, it was almost like a wonderland to us," he explained.

Limerick, Aldi and UL are all putting their best feet forward this weekend and it is something to visit if you are in and around the UL area this weekend admits O'Connell. 

"It think UL is an amazing facility here. Limerick too is a county which will put its arm around this event and the Phase two finals in August too. It is great to have so many people experiencing Limerick and the University over a weekend. That can only be a positive for everyone."

For more on this Paul O'Connell interview, as well as some results from the weekend's festival, see the Monday edition of the Limerick Leader and the weekend broadsheet, out on Thursday morning.