Northern Ireland news

Peadar Heffron heading to Netherlands with the wheelchair GAA all-star hurlers

Former PSNI constable Peadar Heffron who lost his leg in a dissident republican attack and is now an All Star wheelchair hurler

A former police officer who survived an attempt on his life when a bomb exploded under his car has been selected to represent Ireland at an international level in the European Para Games.

Peadar Heffron is part of a 12-man team who will travel to Breda in the Netherlands on Wednesday, the first time Ireland has competed in the wheelchair floorball games.

The GAA were approached by the organisers of the sport after they watched a video of wheelchair hurling and recognised the very similar skills used in both sports.

Peadar Heffron suffered devastating injuries in January 2010 when a booby trap device detonated under his vehicle a half-mile from his house in Randalstown, Co Antrim.

His right leg had to be amputated as a result of his injuries. No one has ever been convicted of the attack which was claimed by Oglaigh na hEireann.

A former hurler and Gaelic footballer with Creggan Kickhams GAC in Randalstown, the respected full-back helped the club to the Antrim Intermediate Championship title on two occasions.

Martin Donelly, Sponsor, with GAA International Wheelchair captain Pat Carty, right, and vice-captain James McCarthy

In an interview with GAA pundit Joe Brolly in 2017 he said he had been shunned by the GAA community after he joined the PSNI.

However, he returned to the sport and has since represented Ulster in the All Ireland wheelchair hurling championships.

Speaking about the games in Holland, Provincial Clubs Co-ordinator Shane McCann said it was a "big ask" going up against teams who have been playing the sport at a competitive level for many years.

The teams first match is against Germany, followed by Switzerland and the highly placed Sweden.

As well as representing Ireland in the Floorball international, the GAA team will also host a wheelchair hurling demonstration during their stay.

"We have three hurlers from every province playing", said Mr McCann.

"This is the first time Ireland will ever have ever been represented, with a push to get the sport into the Paralymics, it's great time for the GAA to be represented at this level with some of our best players".

The Ireland team heading to the Netherlands are: Pat Carty (Capt), Stephen Melvin, Aidan Hynes (Sligo), James McCarthy (Vice Capt), Maurice Noonan, Gary O’Halloran (Limerick), Lorcan Molloy, Seán Bennett, Patrick Tobin (Laois), Conn Nagle, Pat Lewis and Peadar Heffron (Antrim).

Peadar Heffron of Ulster in action against Aidan Hynes, left, and Peter Egan of Connacht during the GAA Wheelchair Hurling All-Ireland Finals

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