Paralympics hero Jason Smyth miffed at Lap of Legends snub from Northern Ireland’s Football Association
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Paralympics hero Jason Smyth miffed at Lap of Legends snub from Northern Ireland’s Football Association

TEAM Ireland Paralympic star Jason Smyth has let fly after he was overlooked for a celebratory sports ceremony at the weekend. 

The gold medallist questioned the Irish Football Association’s (IFA) decision to omit him from a Lap of Legends event in Belfast's Windsor Park on Saturday.

The IFA, the governing body for football in the North of Ireland, organised a parade of famous faces from the North who have achieved enormous feats – particularly in sport – to do a lap of honour ahead of Northern Ireland’s 4-0 win over San Marino.

The likes of 1985 World Snooker Champions Dennis Taylor and current world champion boxer Carl Frampton took part, but Derry native Smyth – a five-time Paralympic gold medal winner – was not invited, much to his disdain.

The 29-year-old took to Twitter to vent his feelings, suggesting the fact he represents Ireland rather than Great Britain was behind his omission.

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Kelly Gallagher and Bethany Firth, fellow Paralympians from the North but who represent Great Britain, were invited and took part in the celebration, which was to mark the redevelopment of Windsor Park in Belfast.

But the IFA have moved to reassure Smyth that no offence was intended.

A statement from the governing body said: "The idea of the Lap of Legends was to bring some famous fans from the world of sport, TV and music together in one place along with other supporters and the football family to celebrate the opening of the new National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

"There was a short 20-minute window in which to stage the event, so we were limited in terms of the number of people that we could invite.

"We did not intend to cause any offence to Jason or anyone else who was not part of the pre-match event.

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"The Irish FA would be delighted to welcome Jason to the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in the future."