Launch Fever Let Loose in Leinster

A sea of dark blue shirts and jerseys flooded the amazing facilities at the Tallaght Stadium on Wednesday morning. The football arena and the surrounding community got a preview of what to expect on the 14th June, when the opening ceremony for the Ireland Games takes place. 267 athletes from all across the Leinster region descended upon the stadium for the launch of Team Leinster. The event was an opportunity for photos to be taken of the athletes and coaches and for everyone to get together in their uniforms for the first time!

30 May 2018; Members of the Soccer team with former Irish International Kevin Doyle during the Special Olympics Ireland Team Leinster Launch at Tallaght Stadium

In true Special Olympics fashion the launch featured some all-star guests. Leinster rugby stars, GAA heroes and soccer legends were some of the individuals that arrived to support the athletes on their launch day. As the speeches began, the sporting celebrities became the centre of attention among the guests.

That is until the LETR Flame of Hope made its way to the stage, accompanied by members of an Garda Siochana and Leinster athletes. The athletes welcomed the ceremonial torch with a huge round of applause. This energy did not drop at any point during the event. Leinster athlete Jenna Carthy received a similar reception as she took to the stage, standing at the podium positioned in front of a row of balloons spelling out ‘L-E-I-N-S-T-E-R’.

Shane Lowry, Irish professional golfer, lent his voice at the event. “Enjoy every moment”, he advised through the speakers of the room. Again, an amazing response from the excited athletes and delegation. Once speeches concluded, it was time for the photos. Athletes and coaches were separated into County and Sport.

The event itself then came to a close. However, there was one last amazing surprise in store for the already ecstatic athletes. Kevin Kilbane, former professional footballer along with some members of the ‘Off the Ball’ production team, treated the football athletes to some world class tips and tricks in a football masterclass. Team Leinster footballers happily seized the opportunity to play a short match with the Off the Ball team and were not shy in giving Kevin the run around!

And thus, the ceremony eventually came to a close. It is clear that the excitement for the Games are growing by the day.

1,600 inspiring athletes will storm the Dublin venues to participate in 13 sports this summer. Launches similar to this one in Tallaght, have taken place across the country.

Special Olympics Ireland would like to extend an invitation to the people of Ireland, to come visit the Games in June. The largest sporting event in Ireland in 2018 will run from Thursday 14th until Sunday 17th of June. This family friendly event is completely free and take place in venues all across Dublin. For more information please visit www.irelandgames.ie.