Bocce Club- Special Olympics Club

In 2003 the Special Olympic World Games were held in Ireland, the first time these Games were held outside of the USA.  The staging of these Games promoted and highlighted the need to develop clubs in Ireland for Special Needs Athletes.  

Local man Pat Burton saw the opportunity to provide a sporting facility for special needs athletes within the Ballyanly Community Centre, from this the Inniscarra Blues Special Olympics Bocce Club was started.  Bocce is a form of bowling, similar to Boules as played in France, that can be played both indoors or outdoors.

The official launch of the Inniscarra Blues Special Olympics Bocce Club took place on the 26th May 2006 in the Blarney Resort Hotel, then known as the Ramada Hotel.

The Club caters for teenagers and young adults from 10 years of age upwards from all areas of Cork city and county.

Over the years, athletes have represented the club at all levels of competition, be it Area, Regional, National or at the World Summer Games.  To represent Ireland at the Special Olympic World Summer Games, athletes have to qualify and advance from competitions over a three-year period as follows, Area games year 1, Regional competition year 2, and National Games year 3. 

In June 2011 the Special Olympics World Summer Games were held in Athens, and Lisa Maher, for Inniscarra Blues S.O. Bocce Club was part of Team Ireland that travelled to Athens, bringing home Gold and Silver medals for her country and club.

In 2014, the Special Olympics European Games were held in Antwerp, and club athlete Mary O Donovan travelled as part of the Irish Team, returning home with a Silver medal for Ireland.

In June 2018, athletes Jeremy Murphy, Lisa Maher and Patrick O Flynn represented their club and Munster at the 2018 Special Olympics Ireland Games bringing home Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for the club and Province.

However, it is not all games, there is fun as well throughout the year, such as Christmas parties and club outings.  The Club has played host and travelled to, other Special Needs Bocce clubs in Newcastle West, Middleton, Charleville, Cashel and Limerick, for friendly competitions and the athletes have made many new friends as a result of these outings.

Locally the Club has also taken part in the Blarney St Patrick’s Day Parade and in 2013 participated in the Inniscarra Agricultural Show in Ballyanly, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of holding the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland.

At season end, the summer outing is enjoyed by parents, athletes and volunteers, which can be as far away as Kinsale Harbour to Kenmare Bay and all places in between. 

Training sessions take place on Tuesday evenings from 7pm until 8.15pm, from September to June in Ballyanly Community Centre Hall.

For further information or if interested in getting involved with the club either as an athlete or volunteer helper, contact any of the below or come along any Tuesday evening to see what Bocce is all about.  New athletes and volunteer helpers are most welcome.  

Bocce, often referred to as bocce ball, is a traditional Italian bowling game. A bocce club is a place or organization where individuals gather to play bocce, usually providing facilities and equipment for the game.