West Clare Taekwon-do club is celebrating as Luke Moriarty, Danny Gallagher and Odin McNulty all claimed medals at the European Taekwon-do ITF Championships in Spain, writes Ivan Smyth.
With a strong Clare presence in La Nucia, Spain, West Clare Taekwon-do Club managed to secure their first ever European medals.
Danny Gallagher secured gold in the junior male -50kg sparring as he produced a series of impressive performances to be crowned the best in Europe.
Meanwhile, Luke Moriarty, who is an instructor with the club, managed to secure gold in the senior male team sparring.
There was strong representation on the team with Shane Tuite (Quin Taekwon-do), Jamie Williams (Shannon Taekwon-do) and Leard Xheladini, Bartosz Bien and Kamil Falowski (all Newlands Taekwon-do).
Odin McNulty became the first member of the club to ever secure a European medal when he scooped silver in the junior male patterns.
He backed this up by being part of the Irish team that secured bronze in the junior male patterns. David Larkin of Quin Taekwon-do Club was also a member of the team.
Other members on the team were Finn Marty (Rivervalley Taekwon-do), Paul Heavin and Niall O’Shea (Cork ITA) and Sam Walsh (Grandmaster Douglas Taekwondo School).
There was a strong Clare representation involved in Team Ireland’s backroom team. West Clare Taekwon-do’s John Moriarty was a Team Manager alongside Master Tim Forde of the Forde Institute of Taekwondo (FIT). Adrian Byrne from Shannon Taekwon-do was a coach on the Irish team while Stephen Ryan, Quin Taekwon-do, is Head Coach of Team Ireland.
Instructor at West Clare Taekwon-do club, John Moriarty is proud of what the club members achieved in Spain.
“It is amazing. They have worked very hard to get to this stage. We have been preparing for this since the end of June, start of July. It has been difficult to train on hard surfaces and grass but they have a terrific attitude.”
COVID guidelines hit the sport of taekwon-do hard and when the sport was allowed to return, they could only conduct contact training outside. Moriarty admits that the pandemic has been challenging for the club.
“We have lost members due to COVID, no doubt about it. It has been quite difficult. There is a lot that goes on to make sure we are compliant with the rules. Initially people could only train on their own. Everyone had to be 2m apart. Contact training was only allowed outside. We have only been able to move indoors since September and we train in pods of six. It makes the achievements of anyone who medalled far greater. A lot of clubs in Europe have been open throughout so it has been harder to get the Irish team’s fitness up.”
This is a huge achievement for the club which only opened its doors in 2013. Moriarty helped to establish the club as he hopes the younger generation will be inspired by the club’s success at the European Championships.
“Within the club it is brilliant for young people. A few years ago Danny and Odin were the young guys but now they are competing at a high level and winning. To now have your own club members winning is a great motivator. It is a mighty achievement for a small club in West Clare.”
Moriarty hopes the club can build on this success for the future.
“We hope to build on this and try get going again after COVID. We hope to encourage more people to take part while getting more people on the Irish team and hopefully winning more medals in the future.”