Rio Paralympics: Defending champions Smyth and McKillop named in Ireland team

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Jason Smyth won gold at the Paralympic Games in Beijing and London

Defending Paralympic champions Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop have been named in a 44-strong Ireland team for this year's Games in Rio.

Smyth earned sprint doubles in both Beijing and London but changes to the competition programme mean he will only race in the T13 100m in Brazil.

After his T37 800m triumph in Beijing, McKillop won two gold medals in London.

However, the International Paralympic Committee's programme changes mean he will be restricted to the 1500m in Rio.

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The squad for the Games which take place between 7-18 September includes four other Northern Ireland competitors.

Tyrone shooter Phillip Eaglesham has been selected while County Antrim pair Cormac Birt and Jordan Walker join Armagh's Ryan Walker in the football squad.

Overall, the Ireland team will compete across nine sports in Rio.

McKillop and Smyth's athletics team-mates will include Orla Barry who earned a bronze medal in London while Noelle Lenihan and Niamh McCarthy will also have high hopes of challenging for podium places.

Irish Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O'Donovan officially announced the team at Dublin City Hall on Tuesday morning.

"It is a tremendous honour for each of the 44 athletes who have been selected to represent Ireland at the Rio Games and they can all be very proud of that achievement," said the minister.

Ireland team bosses target eight medals

Ireland's Paralympic performance director Dave Malone said that a target of eight medals for the team "is achievable".

"The team is ready to achieve great personal and collective success at the Games," said Mr Malone.

"We also anticipate a large number of finals from the team, and we are seeking career best performances from as many of the team as possible on the biggest stage of all."

The first group of Irish athletes will depart for Brazil on 23 August, with a holding camp taking place in Uberlandia, just over 600 miles from the Olympic host city.

Ireland's Paralympic team

Athletics: Orla Barry (Cork), Orla Comerford (Dublin), Paul Keogan (Co. Meath), Noelle Lenihan (Co. Cork), Niamh McCarthy (Co. Cork), Michael McKillop (Co. Antrim), Patrick Monahan (Co. Kildare), Deirdre Mongan (Co. Galway) Jason Smyth (Co. Derry), Greta Streimikyte (Co. Dublin).

Canoeing: Pat O'Leary (Co. Cork)

Cycling: Eoghan Clifford (Co. Galway), Katie-George Dunlevy (Crawley, UK) and pilot Eve McCrystal (Co. Louth), Colin Lynch (Macclesfield, UK), Declan Slevin (Co. Westmeath), Ciara Staunton (Co. Wicklow), Damien Vereker (Co. Kilkenny now based in Waterford) and pilot Seán Hahessy (Co. Tipperary)

Equestrian: Helen Kearney (Co. Wicklow)

Football: Luke Evans, capt (Co. Dublin), Tom Badun (Co. Louth), Cormac Birt (Co Antrim), Joe Markey (Co. Monaghan), Brian McGillivary (Co. Dublin), Carl McKee (Co. Dublin), Gary Messett (Co. Wicklow), Ryan Nolan (Co. Wicklow), Eric O'Flaherty (Co. Galway), Dillon Sheridan (Co. Dublin), Aaron Tier (Co. Limerick), Conor Tuite (Co. Louth), Jordan Walker (Co. Antrim), Ryan Walker (Co. Armagh).

Sailing: John Twomey (Co. Cork), Austin O'Carroll (Co. Dublin), Ian Costelloe (Co. Kerry)

Shooting: Seán Baldwin (Co. Kildare), Phillip Eaglesham (Co. Tyrone)

Swimming: Ellen Keane (Co. Dublin), Ailbhe Kelly (Co. Dublin), James Scully (Co. Meath), Nicole Turner (Co. Laois)

Table Tennis: Rena McCarron Rooney (Co. Donegal)

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