Category: Special Olympics Club

NCAFC Special Olympics Club successful at National Games

Ulster Special Olympics team were well represented by the Newry City AFC Special Olympics Club across Bowling, Football and Aquatics at the recent National Games held in Limerick from the 12th – 15th June, writes Esther King, Manager of the Newry City AFC Special Olympics Club.

Newry City AFC athletes that represented
Newry City AFC athletes proudly display the medals they won for Team Ulster at the National Games last weekend. Photo: Sean McKevitt

This event is one that should be witnessed by everyone – to see the dedication, hard work and participation by both athletes, coaches and volunteers. To get to an Ireland Games is a great achievement, never mind achieving a place on the podium. Some of our athletes had never been away from home before and that in itself is a great adventure and to be commended. Attendance at the games is the result of three years hard work by all, ensuring our athletes can give their best performance on the day. As the Special Olympics Ireland motto states – ‘Let me win, and if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt’.

In aquatics our swimmers were Margaret Hazley, Fraser Wells, Rebecca Devlin, Rachel Crossey, Rebecca O’Reilly and Jack Donnan. Between them they took home 2 golds, 5 silvers, a bronze and a 4th place. Our swimmers range in age from 10 to 64, and they all did an excellent job representing their club and region. They had stiff competition, but they all gave 100% and really enjoyed competing.

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Along with Lord Mayor Daire Hughes’ chain of office, Rachel Crossey wears her gold medal which she won for aquatics, at the recently held Special Olympic National Games in Limerick, while Jack Donnan proudly wears his silver medal for aquatics, won after a very close finish. Photo: Sean McKevitt

Footballers are awakening to the realisation, like so many other athletes, that they have achieved what is their personal goal. It has been three years in preparation and has now finally arrived. They are officially SPECIAL OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL WINNERS! We had seven female athletes – Veronica Donnelly, Siofra Doyle, Betty McGeoghegan, Orlaith McParland, Katrina Magee, Shauna Murphy and Shauna O’Reilly, competing in ladies football as part of Team Ulster. Their exhibition both on and off the field was unbelievable. Their passion to compete and the desire to succeed was truly a humbling and an entertaining experience for the numerous supporters who had turned out to watch. Sunday 15th June 2014 is a date for many that shall not be forgotten. All those hours of hard training had finally paid off, our Ladies WON GOLD in the Division 2 final.

Noel Rice and Patrick Kelly were both gold medal winners in the Men’s level 4 five-a-side football and had an unbelievable 3 days of competition in Limerick. They were up against tough opposition from Munster, Leinster and Connaught but the two lads, along with their other teammates on the Ulster squad, held out in a nail biting final on Sunday to clinch the gold. All Noel and Patrick’s families were there to witness this great victory, bursting with pride and tears of joy.

Nicola McClorey and James Moffett both competed in Ten Pin Bowling in Limerick, along with 26 other athletes from across Ulster. They both bowled to a very high standard and both achieved their own personal goal by winning Gold medals in their respective singles games, and a team Silver in a very hard fought doubles game against seven other teams from all over Ireland.

Newry City AFC Special Olympic Coaches pictured with Lord Mayor Daire Hughes
Lord Mayor Daire Hughes is pictured here with the very proud coaches from the Newry City AFC Special Olympic Club who were part of Team Ulster at the Special Olympic National Games. Photo: Sean McKevitt

We had three Head Coaches who traveled with the Newry City AFC Special Olympic Club – Anne Magill (Ladies Football), Jim Fox (Men’s Football) and Esther King (Aquatics). Whilst none of the Newry AFC athletes were on Jim’s football team, he coached his team to a gold medal and the standard of his team in the final could have rivalled some of the current World Cup squads! Other club coaches that were part of Team Ulster were Helen McKee (Bowling), Darren Mcllherron (Aquatics), Marie Magee (Aquatics) and Teresa Devlin (Ladies Football). I have to say that everyone of the team was complimented on their behaviour and how they conducted themselves. Many people also commented on how organised we were as a group. We are so proud not only of representing Team Ulster at National Games but also that we, as Newry City AFC went to National Games representing our club, a club that has celebrated victorious wins in both it’s male and female teams. We can now stand proudly beside our entire club, without whose support, this dream for both our athletes and coaches may not have been realised.

A special thanks must go to BIG O – without him at our helm, then this achievement would not have been realised. If there were more Big O’s in this world, what a wonderful world it would be.

Yours in Sport,

Esther King
A very proud club manager of Newry City AFC Special Olympics Club

Newry City AFC recognised at Sports awards

Newry City AFC may be barely a year in existence, but the remarkable progress of the club was highlighted last Thursday evening at the Newry & Mourne Sports awards in the Canal Court Hotel, where they received nominations in two categories, while Senior team manager Darren Mullen was the recipient of a special achievement award for his services to Sport in the Newry & Mourne area.

Newry City Ladies team received a nomination for the Jimmy Davis Soccer award.   Newry City AFC Special Olympics bowling club and Newry City AFC Special Olympics Club were both nominated for the Athletes with Learning disabilities award.

Newry City AFC Special Olympics Club spoke with Special Olympics Club manager Esther King after the awards ceremony, who told us she was “proud to be local and proud to be part of the Newry City AFC Special Olympics team.”

Esther said the team enjoyed great success in the regional games in 2013 and look forward to competing in the All-Ireland games in 2014.

Newry City AFC Special Olympics athletes Katrina, Rebecca and Fergal
Newry City AFC Special Olympics athletes Katrina, Rebecca and Fergal

“Newry City Special Olympics club are very honoured to have 18 local athletes , four coaches plus three Head Coaches selected to represent Team Ulster for the 2014 All-Ireland Special Olympics Games. Having already qualified for selection through the Regional Finals in 2013, these athletes, who range from 10 to 65 years of age, will take part in Aquatics, Football and Bowling. Our clubs have over 60 athletes training every week in these sports as well as gymnastics. ”

Esther continued, “The athletes show true determination and dedication in their sport, overcoming many physical and mental challenges to participate to the best of their abilities.  It only takes belief in them by their coaches and encouragement to believe in themselves, to allow them to reach their true potential.”

Newry City AFC Special Olympics motto is – Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

Newry City Ladies football team

There’s just no stopping Newry City Ladies football team. The girls have achieved phenomenal success since their formation in 2009. Last year the girls won the Northern Ireland Women’s Football Association Division one league – the fourth year running that the girls have won their league and achieved promotion!  Incredibly, the girls have done this without losing a single league game.

Newry City Ladies Football team
Newry City Ladies Football team

When you look at the strength in depth they have in their squad, it’s easy to see why Newry City Ladies are such a successful outfit. The team boasts many international players, including: Captain Aoife Lennon, Ciara Mulvena, Aimee Mackin, Lisa McCann, Blaithin Mackin and Aoibheen Jones, Natasha Daryaie and Moya Feehan. Moya, who is the daughter of assistant manager John, has been the leading goal scorer every season for Newry since the club formed. Moya, still only 18, and now a full international with Northern Ireland, scored the winning goal against England during the 2013 U17 European Championships.

Ladies team manager James Feehan believes there’s much more to come from the girls over the next couple of seasons.

“Last season we were promoted to the Championship. We’ve played teams from the Championship before on a number of occasions and done really well against them so come the end of next season we hope to be up there going for another league title.

“We have added to the squad with new signings Julie Robins, Alison McMaster, Emma McMaster, Leanne Domican, Charlene Troughton and Laura Hegan – so we have plenty of strength in depth.

“Our number one aim is to be playing Premiership football. This is the league above the Championship, the highest division you can reach in Northern Ireland Ladies football. If you win the Premiership then you can enter the Champions League, where you play against the top sides in Europe. This is the standard we want to be playing at.

“At the moment though we are just focusing on the hurdles we have to overcome this season, starting with our first league game at home to Valley Rangers on Thursday 24th April.”

Darren Mullen

Darren, who was a youth coach at  the club for over five years, was a key driving force in helping the club back on its feet after it was dissolved in September 2012.

When  Newry City Athletic Football Club was officially launched in March 2013, it was announced that Darren would be leading the club in its new era as first team manager. He has since assembled a squad made up entirely of players from the locality. The team has exceeded all expectations of supporters, currently sitting at the top of the Mid Ulster Intermediate B league, with 12 wins from 14 games.

Darren (centre) is pictured here at the Newry & Mourne awards ceremony with Club Chairman Martin McLoughlin (left) and Club secretary Kevin Lyons
Darren (centre) is pictured here at the Newry & Mourne awards ceremony with Newry City AFC Chairman Martin McLoughlin (left) and Club secretary Kevin Lyons (right) Photo: Noel Moan

“I’m delighted to receive the individual award but it is more a reflection of the progress that the club has made in the past year”, Darren told

“It’s hard to believe that we are reformed a year. A lot of hard work has been carried out both on and off the field.

“The Club has evolved into a very well run set up made up of local people willing to give up their time and effort. The committee has done terrific work in ensuring things run as smoothly as possible and are continually looking to improve the club in all aspects. They deserve great credit for picking up the pieces and providing the assistance required to allow us to prosper on the field.”

Darren also spoke of the great strides the youth development at the club has been making, ensuring there will be a supply of talent right up to the first team squad for years to come.

“The youth coaching staff throughout the club have been working tirelessly. Our Youth Academy Manager Conlon Morrison deserves credit for overseeing the process. Our new skills school has also got off to a great start with 120 kids joining on the first night. In Paul Evans we have a coach who has great expertise in this area with the emphasis being on fun as well as development.”

Darren is pleased with the progress that the first team are making but with 12 league games remaining he knows there is still everything to play for.

“The Senior Team had another terrific win at the weekend over promotion rivals Dungannon Tigers, with our third 5-0 win in a row. The players all know the importance of promotion at the club and are maintaining a high standard, both in games and at training. Raymie, Micky and Jervis are continuously reminding them of the commitment required to finish the season in the right manner and we hope to achieve our goal of promotion.”

He added, “Finally I would also like to congratulate the Special Olympic and Ladies squads on being recognised at the Sports Awards. They represented the club through our rebirth in a terrific manner and deserve great credit.”