UK Tour Day 2 2014-04-19 11:10:00





We were all down for breakfast for 9.00am. Well most of us were.


The goalkeepers appear to operate in a different time zone!


Stephen explains it thus – it is slightly complicated but the alarm did work but the snooze function would just not co-operate and somehow went off late! Anyway, they eventually made it for a very good breakfast.


This place looks even better in daylight. The hotel and the Reebok Stadium are massive. Those with a view out onto the pitch are the envy of all. A quick reckie of the area found that there are loads of shops and stuff around. Remarkably, just down the road are a cluster of ethnic Irish restaurants – a 24 hour McDonalds and a KFC together with a Subway for those trying to impress Tommy!


Meanwhile Jason recovered a measure of credibility when in amongst the One Direction songs we found Dexy’s Midnight Runners but that was all lost again and not even “Com’on Eileen” could rescue him from his John Travolta songs. Jason is a broken man, his reputation and street cred in absolute tatters.


We were back down for 10.45 to walk the short distance to the Bolton Arena for a Training session. It is very impressive and we had a good session ahead of our first game later this evening. Afterwards Seamus went through some static stretching with us. All part of the continuing education. Then it was back to the Hotel for a shower and lunch and there was still time for a visit to the nearby Bolton Wanderers Club shop. (There will be quite a few Bolton jerseys about Athlone next week!). Then we met together to head off to our first game.


We have played on worse pitches but we had no dressing rooms so it was good that we were togged out before we left. What we were not prepared for was the size of the opposition. They were massive!


It turned out that they are actually an Under-15 team. Their date of birth over here is different than ours and they even had a few players born in 1998 who would be playing Under-16 back home. Still we came here for tough challenges and tough games and that is what we got.


                                    ADSL      0       :      Stockport Vikings       3


The score line does not tell the full story.


We actually played very well for large parts of this game, played over two periods of 40 minutes, but we also had a few bad moments and seemed to be punished for those mistakes and poor play. Overall, however, there was more good than bad.


Tom O’Carroll, Sam Maxwell and Ian O’Rourke had outstanding games and were the main reason for a very good start. We had the best early chances. Sam’s pass released Darragh but his shot was just over. Sam then had a shot deflected for a corner kick. We were passing the ball reasonably well and keeping good possession to a point. However all that good work was undone in the 25th minute when a bit of panic at the back gifted them a chance that they took very well to go 1-0 up.


We responded well to that and had a great chance off a super delivery from a Paul McGrath corner with the ball falling to Darragh at the back post but his fierce shot went just over.


Seven minutes before the break we went two goals down. They broke well but Brian pulled off an amazing save tipping the effort onto his crossbar but he had no luck when the rebound fell to a Stockport player for a simple tap-in.


It was rough justice to be two goals down at the break but worse was to follow when a free kick took a wicked deflection in the first minute of the second half for a 3-0 lead.


To be fair the lads refused to give up and battled away playing some good football and creating a few chances but without reward. 15 of the 23 players got a run-out and there were loads of positives. Yet it was still disappointing to lose.


After the game we headed back to the Hotel, a quick shower and then out for dinner to an Italian place. It was fantastic. There was barely a crumb left behind. We were that hungry but the grub was that good. Adam got a special desert for his birthday.


Heather also joined us tonight. She played for the Irish Schools Under-15 team that beat Northern Ireland 2-0 and Slovakia 2-1 before losing the Final 3-0 to England. It was a fantastic achievement by Heather to do so well in representing her country and we are all very proud of her and delighted that she is now with us.


A busy full day.



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