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Wheelchair hurlers given the vote from legend Kelly

 

Good sport: Kelly Gallagher (centre) joins the hurling project
Good sport: Kelly Gallagher (centre) joins the hurling project

By Robert Jones

Northern Ireland Paralympic gold medallist Kelly Gallagher swapped her ski poles for a hurley stick as she joined Ulster GAA's wheelchair hurling project for a special game as both aim to win 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards.

Kelly took part in a training session with wheelchair hurlers in the Mid-Ulster Arena in Cookstown and showed she is as handy with a sliotar as she is on the ski slopes.

Both are battling for public votes in the awards. Kelly, who is visually impaired and won Team GB's first ever Winter Paralympic gold media in Sochi 2014, is one of 12 athletes competing in the Sporting Legend category.

Ulster GAA's wheelchair hurling initiative, which makes hurling more accessible for people with disabilities, is up against nine other organisations hoping to be named Best Sports Project.

The National Lottery Awards are the annual search for the public's favourite National Lottery-funded projects and celebrate the inspirational people who do extraordinary things with the help of cash backing.

The organisation or athlete with the most votes will be crowned the winner and receive a £10,000 cash prize and a National Lottery Awards trophy They will also attend a star-studded glittering awards ceremony to be broadcast on BBC One in November.

Kelly said: "I had a really enjoyable time taking part in wheelchair hurling. It was great fun and a fantastic idea to help people with disabilities enjoy the sport of hurling.

"I was hugely impressed by the skill, strength and determination of the players and the vision and innovation of their coaches.

"National Lottery funding has been invaluable to my career and I am delighted to see it make a difference by supporting wheelchair hurling too.

"Ulster GAA's wheelchair hurling project thoroughly deserves their nomination in the Best Sports Project category and I would encourage people to vote for them."

Shane McCann, Ulster GAA's Active Clubs co-ordinator, added: "We were delighted to welcome Kelly Gallagher to our training session. She proved to be a great sport - and quite a good player.

"Kelly is an inspirational figure in local sport and role model for us all. Like many of our participants she has not let her disability hold her back and has reached the very pinnacle of her sport.

"There is no doubt she is a true sporting legend and we are grateful for her support for our campaign to win a National Lottery Award, and we are fully behind her as she attempts to win the Sporting Legend category. Let's hope we can do a double."

The National Lottery's Jonathan Tuchner added: "It's thanks to National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes, that brilliant projects like those in the finals of the National Lottery Awards are possible.

"Kelly Gallagher's achievements on the ski slopes are remarkable and her place among local sporting legends is already secure. Ulster GAA is doing an incredible job creating more sporting legends through their wheelchair hurling project.

"Both thoroughly deserve to be in the finals of the National Lottery Awards and, with your support, they could be winners."

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