A group of players and officials are off to the Special Olympic’s World Games in Abu Dhabi in March.
One of those selected to make the trip is Cork man Denis O’Gorman.
O’Gorman, from Inniscarra Road, Farranree, has been selected to travel as a basketball table official. This is an incredible achievement by Denis as 20 people applied for this position and five people were selected with Denis the only member selected from Cork.
Each athlete official will be accompanied and supported by five mentors who will act as travelling volunteers. This is a wonderful story as Denis who had to overcome lots of difficulties in his early days to become one the most respected basketball table officials in the country.
Denis, when younger, was a pupil at Scoil Bernadette at the Cope Foundation in Mayfield. After finishing his education he then began to work for Cope in various roles and still works for them today as van helper and storeman.
It was while he attended Cope he developed his passion for basketball. His older brothers Sean and Andrew played the game with Iona and Denis spent many an hour watching them and playing with them in the Parochial Hall.
The Parochial hall became his second home. When he wasn’t playing basketball he was helping out with the bingo for the late Mr Eddie O’Brien.
Denis moved on to play with Munster and went on to win the National Championship in 1984, then went on to a European gold medal with the Irish team in 1995, and later that summer won a gold medal at the World Games in Indiana in USA.
He also assisted with Blarney Ladies National League team who were coached by Dommie Mullins at that time.
The popular northsider spent his Saturday’s in the Parochial Hall help vicarious clubs out with their table officials duties.
It’s there he met his loyal friend and mentor the late Thomas Rawley who encouraged him to start taking the relevant courses.
He did those courses and qualified as National League League table official and afterwards both of them could be seen on any given day in any basketball gym helping out the local clubs.
Denis has now been a table official for the past 25 years and is a regular at the National Cup finals weekend.
He was delighted when he got the news.
“I’m over the moon that I was picked to go on this trip of a lifetime,” Denis said. “I would like to thank the Special Olympic’s Committee for this chance to represent my country again.
“I would also like to thank both Cork County Boards for all their help and encouragement over the years.
“At this time I am still thinking about my late friend Thomas Rawley because without his help and assistance at the start I would not have been in this position to be able to represent my country at the World Games this year.”
Deborah McArdle, who is one of the volunteers with the Special Olympic’s was full of praise for Denis and what he has achieved.
“Denis has being a basketball official long before the Special Olympic’s program for officials started,” Deborah McArdle said.
“Denis is is definitely the first Special Olympic athlete that was qualified and is the most qualified table official travelling with the party.
“The National Table Officials Association wish to congratulate Denis on his selection and hope he has a successful and enjoyable time in Abu Dhabi.”
The chairperson of the Cork Ladies County Board George Meade also congratulated Denis on his achievement.
“Denis has been part of Cork basketball for as long as most people can remember,” George Meade said. “He is regarded as one of the top table officials in the country, specialising in the 24-second clock.
“He has assisted CLBB on a weekly basis in running games in the Parochial Hall by acting as either venue officer or doorman and also organises table officials for the Board Tournaments.
“The Board appreciate that Denis is always there when needed and we can always depend on him being there when needed.”
I have known Denis and his family for many years. He deserves this trip for all the great work he has done for all the clubs in Cork and I wish him all the best with the tournament and hope he has a great experience.