Match for Derry Down's Syndrome Oxford Bulls team

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionRepublic of Ireland winger James McClean left the young team 'star-struck'

A team of footballers with Down's Syndrome is to play its first competitive match after a video plea featuring a Republic of Ireland player.

Winger James McClean got in touch with the manager of the Londonderry-based Oxford Bulls after a social media plea to find possible opponents.

A video with Mr McClean went viral; the team have been inundated with offers.

Delighted manager Kevin Morrison said the response had been so good the team could play every week for two years.

"Our first competitive match will now take place in Sion Mills on 24 April," said Mr Morrison.

Premier League connections

One player's parent, Seamus Breslin, said the football had had a great impact on his son.

"He finishes school on a Friday and then plans his whole weekend around football," said Mr Breslin.

"He absolutely loves it."

Image copyright Kevin Morrison
Image caption Adam is a big fan of the Ireland forward

Another player's parent, John Morris, said that since McClean's visit, his son had become a star with people taking pictures of him in local shops.

"With James McClean coming down, they've become famous," said Mr Morris.

"The exposure has been unbelievable.

"Manchester City, Liverpool FC and UEFA have even been in contact."

The Oxford Bulls club was established with the help of the Foyle Down's Syndrome Trust., which provides a wide range of activities for young people and adults with the condition.

A mother, whose 10-year-old son plays for the team, said the club had given her 10-year-old son confidence and helped him make friends.

"They've been treated like heroes and we couldn't believe the story was even in French Canadian papers," she said.

Image copyright Kevin Morrison
Image caption Oxford Bulls star Keegan enjoyed the surprise match

More on this story