Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Sarah youngest to scale Kilimanjaro

Sarah O'Neill with her mother Sinead (right) after the 11-year-old from Co Tipperary has become the youngest girl ever to scale Mount Kilimanjaro
Sarah O'Neill with her mother Sinead (right) after the 11-year-old from Co Tipperary has become the youngest girl ever to scale Mount Kilimanjaro

An 11-year-old from Co Tipperary has become the youngest girl to scale Africa's highest mountain.

Sarah O'Neill, from Bansha, reached the peak of 5,895-metre Mount Kilimanjaro with her mother Sinead.

The proud Premier county fan said she hoped her feat was an omen for her side against Kilkenny in Sunday's All-Ireland hurling championship decider.

Dressed in her home colours of blue and gold, Sarah said: "I'm over the moon - so thrilled."

After reaching the summit at around 11am, she added: "I'm very proud and hope that Tipp can now go and win the All-Ireland next Sunday."

Sarah, a pupil at Bansha national school, read about Irish adventurer Ian McKeever helping his then 10-year-old godson Sean McSharry become the youngest person in Europe to reach the top of Kilimanjaro in 2008.

The story inspired her to make an attempt at it and she has trained with her mother in mountains around Ireland for the past five months.

They formed part of a 33-strong secondary school group, one of eight separate expeditions, involving 150 Irish students, parents and teachers, led up Kilimanjaro this summer by Mr McKeever, 41, from Lough Dan in Co Wicklow.

Fionnuala McGeever, chief executive of Tipperary South Vocational Education Committee, who joined them on the climb, said she was thrilled to see so many of her students reach the top.

"Sarah's mum Sinead was overcome with joy," she said.

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