Sport Northern Ireland CEO Antoinette McKeown was joined by David Healey, GAA’s Sean Cavanagh and Ulster Rugby’s John Afoa and Paddy Wallace at the Irish Cup Final (Saturday) to launch this year’s Sport Northern Ireland’s Sporting Ambassador programme.

The athletes were united to be enrolled as Sport Northern Ireland’s “Sporting Ambassadors” and took the opportunity to encourage everyone who would not traditionally think of going to Windsor Park to come along and enjoy the sporting spectacle.

Through the “Sporting Ambassadors” programme athletes give a little back to their own communities, by visiting schools and community groups to share their experiences, challenge ideas and hopefully inspire whole communities to take part in sport.

Speaking at the launch, Antoinette McKeown said: “Our dedicated athletes continue to do us all proud with their determination and success. They have given us plenty to celebrate over the years. David, Sean, John and Paddy are excellent role models and they are now part of a legion of Ambassadors, who will be take part in visits up and down the country. This will help us to inspire the next generation in sport.”

Antoinette added: “Seeing our athletes committing their time to community sport is a really important element of our sporting legacy and makes a real difference to budding sportsmen and women across Northern Ireland. The fact that all four of our athletes have come here today to Windsor Park shows how inclusive football has become and the huge efforts made by the IFA in the area of community relations. I would like to publicly thank IFA CEO Patrick Nelson for all his efforts in this regard.”

David Healy commented: “I am delighted to be able to share what is a showcase event for football with my fellow Sporting Ambassadors from the GAA and Rugby.”