8 March 2024

~4 minutes read

Team Connaught line out for Special Olympics Ireland Winter Games

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Team Connaught line out for Special Olympics Ireland Winter Games
  • Special Olympics Ireland host Ireland Winter Games March 22-24 in Craigavon, Northern Ireland
  • Team Connaught will send a delegation of 45 people made up of 31 athletes and 14 coaches and supporting volunteers
  • Team Connaught will send four floorball teams (three male and one female) 

The Connacht Hotel in Galway provided the perfect set up as Team Connaught gathered to celebrate the 45 people who will travel to take part in the Ireland Winter Games in March.  

The evening was a celebration of the athletes, coaches and volunteers who will represent their region with pride, skill and camaraderie in Craigavon from 22nd to 24th March. 

The launch event featured informative presentations, good luck messages and videos, and a question-and-answer session with Connacht Rugby stars Paul Boyle and Niall Murray, who stayed on afterwards to appear in photographs and share conversation and competition advice with Team Connaught athletes.

Shauna Stewart, aged 29, has been involved with Athlone Special Olympics Club since 2015. The Athlone native‘s enthusiasm shines through: “I train in basketball and floorball with my club; I can’t choose which is my favourite! I enjoy the training – we’ play and train as a team, and I enjoy it every week.”  

“When I found out I was part of Team Connaught, I was thrilled. Everyone at home is so happy as well. I’m excited to go out with my friends and play well. If we come back with a medal, that’s great –  we’re going out to see what happens and do our best regardless. For my fellow athletes, I’d say to them to just go out, play well, be happy and do your best!” 

Charlie Golden, aged 18 from Ballinrobe has been a member of Galway Special Olympics Club for less than a year but has already made great strides: “My local club  is a great environment to be in, and I really enjoy the weekly training – I’ve made new friends and learned new skills.”  

“I’m very excited for the Games – I want to be involved in as much as I can. I’m going to really go out there to give it my all and enjoy myself.” 

Coach Sean Sidley has been active in Special Olympics volunteering and coaching since the 2003 World Games in Dublin: I first volunteered for the Ireland World Games in 2003. I had a great time up there so I decided to come back to Galway and help to set up one or two clubs. Now we train twice a week in football and floorball.” 

“There’s an element of a social event alongside sport for the athletes. They enjoy coming along every Saturday for the football and every Tuesday night for the floorball. It’s a social gathering where they meet their friends, as well as a genuine sport that they take seriously.” 

“And at the end of the day, it is a sport – the athletes are there to win and participate just like any other sport. They’re proud to represent Connaught, and we’re proud that they’re going up to Northern Ireland to compete.” 

Myra Merrick, Regional Director Connaught, highlighted the goodwill, excitement and positive energy surrounding the Connaught delegation: “The athletes, coaches and entire delegation are very excited to be representing their region at the Games. This has been the focus of so much preparation and planning, and the time and effort put in has been extensive. I can’t wait to cheer on our floorball teams as they do Connaught proud.”

The Connaught Region will be counting down the days until the games, knowing they have trained hard and have the support of all their family, friends, and clubs behind them.

The Ireland Winter Games is a qualifying competition for the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2025, which will take place in Turin, Italy.

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