Down Syndrome Futsal squad receives international caps

“Trailblazers, you will always have that. As the first ever players with Down Syndrome to play Futsal internationally.

I am sure you are very proud, there is very few people actually in the world that actually go on and played for their country. In any type of sport and any type of football or Futsal. Amazing achievement.

We as an association is very proud of you.” Marc Canham, FAI Director of football on presenting the team with their international caps.

Ireland’s first national Down Syndrome Futsal team was presented with their international caps ahead of the friendly Ireland vs New Zealand game at Aviva stadium on Tuesday 21st November.

Football or All’s Paddy O’Reilly, Head coach Paul Smyth and Marc Canham met with the team and their parents.

“The awarding of a cap to an international player dates back to the 1870s and remains a symbolic gesture, as well as a prized keepsake. Therefore it was important to ensure that all players who featured for Ireland at senior level were eligible to receive this one-off cap that represents their involvement with the team.” In this instance, these caps were hard earned as Ireland’s first international Down Syndrome Futsal team travelled to Padua, Italy, in early September to participate in the Sport Union for Athletes with Down Syndrome (SUDS) European Championships.

The team had a jam-packed week, playing 5 games in 4 days. Turkey, Italy and Portugal have been playing for at least 4 years in different international tournaments and had to stand their ground against the newcomers.

Being first-time competitors did not leave the Irish team at a disadvantage reckoned Máire Hourigan, mom of Futsal player Cian Kelleher from Cork: “Our athletes demonstrated belief and strong heart and operated in a fun-loving way throughout the week. I am so proud of all of them and loved the cohesive way the teams bonded, dressed in their similar attire. Memories were created, experiences were made, and our athletes led the way in style in how they handled themselves, one another, and their opponents. Truly phenomenal ambassadors. Onwards and upwards. There are no limits!”.

A number of the players selected for the squad had previous involvement in Football For All, and were very quick to adapt their skills to Futsal. This event also provided the players with the opportunity to test their skills against other players with Down Syndrome from the other nations involved.

Creating a player pathway for players with Down syndrome in Ireland from grassroots all the way through to International Level, would be the next natural step. By getting more players with Down Syndrome playing Futsal (the International game is Futsal) on a regular basis will mean that the future is bright and more players can aspire to represent their country at future events.

Paul Smyth, Head coach, were delighted by the team’s performance “The players and families made huge sacrifices all through the year in preparation for the SUDS European Championships. This enabled the team to match more established countries with outstanding performances throughout the tournament.

On behalf of the coaching team, Brendan Corish, Sean Mulligan and myself, we would like to acknowledge the support of the families and supporters who got behind the team and made it such a special experience. It made us all proud to be Irish.  

We would also like to recognise the endeavours of those pioneers who worked tirelessly on this project, the Down Syndrome Louth and Meath Branch and the unbelievable support of the communities and businesses.

It was a pleasure to be involved with this historic group of players.”

Fun with Numbers

Our Fun with Numbers is resuming with our younger group back next Monday the 11th of September and then the older group is back on Thursday the 14th of September.

Fun with Numbers is a fun way of working with numbers through games and creative learning aids. It is a light-hearted way of learning basic number skills like counting, adding, and subtraction, incorporating concepts of division and multiplication.

Fun with Numbers presents opportunities for using life skills like following a recipe using measurements and time, along with planning journeys and using money.

We run “Fun with Numbers“ Sessions each week.  There are 2 sessions per week on Mondays and Thursdays.

We have set up the following age groupings however if your child’s age falls outside these categories we will still try to accommodate.

Junior Group Ages   8-11 – 4 pm Mondays
Senior Group Ages 12 and up – 
 5.30 pm Thursdays

The thought is that Deirdre will target older children on a Thursday and younger children on a Monday, however, all children are welcome to participate in either or both sessions each week if you think the content is suitable.

Down Syndrome Louth Meath will cover the cost of the sessions, so there will be no cost to parents for these sessions. The Sessions will run during the school terms as long as there is interest.

The students will need some materials ahead of the sessions, but Deirdre will let you know ahead of time what will be needed – it will all be inexpensive stuff that you may already have or can recycle around the house or will be able to get in the likes of Dealz. Deirdre will also send links for printable materials, should any member not have access to a printer please contact us immediately when Deirdre posts the links to printables and we can arrange to have them posted to you.

We have set up a WhatsApp group for each age group so that Deirdre can fill you in on what materials are needed and send you the Zoom ID and password.  Deirdre posts a video each week explaining the materials required.

We will need the following details:

Child Name:

Parents name and telephone number for WhatsApp Group:

Child’s age:

Email Address:

If you have any questions or would like to take part please contact us at

Sibling support – Sibshop Workshop

We have organised a Sibling Support Workshop for our Branch. 

Saturday 2nd September 2023 in Drogheda Presbyterian Church from 2.00 – 4.30 pm.  

The Workshops are carried out by Liz Fitzpatrick & Linda Foley, both Nurses working with children with an Intellectual disability. They are qualified Sibshop Facilitators and run Sibshop workshops which are afternoons of fun for siblings of children with special needs. Please see attached leaflet.

As well as having lots of fun it provides a great opportunity for siblings to get together and chat about some of the difficulties and the positives of having a sibling with Special Needs.

The workshops are for our member’s Siblings aged between 7 & 13 and the members with Down Syndrome should be over 2.5 years old so that the Siblings can see and understand that their brother or sister has special needs.

These Sibshops are free to our members.

Please reply to or text Brendan at 083 8972044 to register your intention to attend.

Place on each workshop is limited to 12 and places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

“SIBSHOP WORKSHOPS (duration 2.5 hours)

Sibshops are fun workshops for siblings of children with special needs. We run them on weekend afternoons or during school holidays. They are lively, with games and discussions. We also prepare a snack and/ or make pizzas with the children.

As well as having lots of fun it provides a great opportunity for siblings to get together and chat about some of the difficulties and the positives of having a sibling with special needs.

The workshops are aimed at children aged between 8-12 years with a maximum of 12 children in the group recommended as we find this works best in order to give all the children a chance to contribute to the discussions and games. Their sibling with special needs should be over 2 and a half years old so that they can see and understand that their brother or sister has special needs.”

Invitation to Family Fun Day & BBQ

Where: Newgrange Farm

When: Sunday 3rd September 2023

Down Syndrome Louth/Meath Branch is holding a Family Fun Day & BBQ in Newgrange Farm, Slane, on Sunday the 3rd Sept.

BBQ grill will be cooking from 1 pm-3 pm approx. BBQ is free and is paid for by the Louth/Meath Branch.

The cost of entry for adults & children to the farm is €8 for our members (Carer Free), rest of the family €10 each.

Book online at – in the special needs section on the bookings portal or tickets can be purchased at the gate.

All Members Welcome

Irish Legends Golf raffle Winner

Under the watchful eyes of Poppy Stephenson and Mike Egan, Karl Bourke draws the winning ticket in the DSI Louth Meath Irish Legends Golf raffle.

Congratulations to the delighted winner Thinus Jordaan from Dundalk, and originally South Africa. Thinus is an enthusiastic golfer and husband of our great Down Syndrome sports/athletics supporter Sanet Jordaan so a well-deserved winner indeed!!  

A big Thank You to our prize sponsors; Seapoint Golf Club, Co. Louth Golf Club and the d Hotel(who hosted the draw), to everyone who bought or helped sell tickets and to ForeFront Golf and the Irish Legends hosts Des Smyth and Roddy Carr for their amazing support over the weekend. Much appreciated!!! 👏

Funding Scheme for 2023

The members of the Down Syndrome Ireland Louth Meath Branch have agreed at the Branch AGM held on 26th April 2023, to provide a funding scheme for branch members to help cover the cost of therapies, and sports / recreational activities in 2023 that will be of benefit to our members with Down syndrome.

Details of the Funding Scheme can be found on our Website


Members should submit completed application forms, accompanied by receipts and relevant supporting details as per the Terms & Conditions to the Branch Administrator Brendan Stephenson before the end of January 2024 for therapies/activities that took place the previous year (eg. activities/therapies that took place in 2023, the application should be made between 1st January. – 31st January 2024.) 

The Treasurer (who is a volunteer) will endeavour to process applications before the end of February. (Applications submitted after 31st January will be processed the following year)

Please send applications to:

Down Syndrome Ireland Louth Meath Branch
9 Ashdale,
Wheaton Hall,
Co. Louth
A92 KDK8

Summer Aquafit Bootcamp

Our first Aquafit of the Summer is Wednesday 12th July, at Aura Trim Leisure Centre from 2 to 2:45 pm.

This Camp will be facilitated by Eleanor Murray, Aura Trim Employee and Branch Member, and another Aura Trim Staff Member.

We have organised an AQUA Boot Camp in association with Aura Trim Leisure Centre.

Great Music And Great Moves in the pool.

Where: Aura Trim Leisure Centre

When: Wednesday 12th July

Time: 2 PM

Aged 13 up (Have to be able to stand independently in the water, in the Shallow End and follow instructions . There will be a lifeguard but no assistant in the water)

Contact Cara 0857105437

Minimum of 6 participants and a Maximum of 15. Places will be filled on a first-come-first served basis.

Parent and Toddler Group

The Louth/Meath Branch of Down Syndrome Ireland manages an “Parent & Toddler Group” for preschool children (aged from 5 months to 6 years) with Down syndrome in the counties of Louth and Meath.

The group is open to children with Down Syndrome aged 5 months to school-going age.

When:   Thursday Mornings (fortnightly)

Time:     10 to 11:30 am

Where:   Duleek Bellewstown & District Community Facility (Navan Rd, Balsaran, Duleek, A92 F2HN, CO. Meath)

The group is run fortnightly and is facilitated by Louise Tully.Below are some of the different activities that Louise will aim to deliver:

  • Lots of Lámh – Louise will be providing each parent who is interested in learning Lámh signs with specific signs for each session.
  • Language activities – Louise will be introducing See and Learn sounds and vocabulary activities for each child and work with them on which level they need to start with and work on their individual levels.
  • Messy play – Louise will have a targeted messy play activity for each session with lots of opportunities for the kids to experiment and play with lots of different textures.
  • Music and song – Louise will have a structured nursery rhyme to work on each session, with signs included as well as providing lots of opportunities for music and songs.
  • Gross and fine motor – Louise will be working on setting up some areas for tabletop activities like puzzles, ring stackers and pink pig etc.

Each session costs €5  to be paid directly into our Bank AccountAIB Grafton Street
Sort Code 93 10 47
A/c 49363006
IBAN: IE33 AIBK 9310 4749 3630 06
Account Name: Down Syndrome Louth MeathPlease include your name and label it Toddler Group.

To register your interest, please email Brendan Stephenson; at or phone/text Brendan at 083 8972044.