UK Tour Day 6 2014-04-22 19:40:00

DAY 6 – MONDAY 21ST APRIL 2014

 

 

Day 6, our last day but what a last day.  “Unbelievable Jeff!”

 

The day started early with breakfast by 8.00am, then the final packing, loading up those bags that were going back on the ferry and then checking out of the Hotel.

 

(It should be recorded that the Hotel staff were full of praise for the way in which the Group behaved and conducted themselves during the whole stay. They did not receive a single complaint about the Group which, they say, is rare when football Groups stay with them. They were full of compliments for our entire Group, so very well done.)

 

Then we were on our way to Rochdale for our last game. Callum is still out but Heather is back.

 

                                        ADSL     4      :      BRIDGE JFC       2

 

Bridge Junior Football Club are based in Rochdale and are tied in with Bolton Wanderers.

 

We played very well and really should have won by much more. They however were the most physical side that we have played and this was a tough test. Heather had to come off injured early on, Tom got a smack to the face from a trailing arm and the tackles were flying in all over. A different kind of test for us, but a good one.

 

We started well and might have taken the lead after just five minutes. Good play by Tom O’Carroll created the chance for Heather cutting in from the right but Neil Macken just failed to get on the end of her low cross at the back post. Charlie Nevin then had a decent chance with a shot from distance. However despite all that early pressure and possession we went behind on ten minutes.

 

We conceded a needless free out on our right and they scored direct with a high shot that crept in just under the crossbar at the back post.

 

We responded immediately. In the next minute a great ball from Paul McGrath put Kevin Rowan in and the big striker made no mistake with a thunderous finish to make it 1-1.

 

We then lost Heather to injury but were now well on top. Tom O’Carroll should have had a penalty when felled in the box while a Charlie Nevin shot was deflected over. We had loads of chances and in the 23rd minute Kevin raced onto the ball, outpaced the defence and coolly finished to make it a deserved 2-1.

 

We continued to create chances and Kevin had two particularly god chances to complete a first half hat-trick. Tom also came close when his shot thundered back off the crossbar after more good work by Ian. Then just before the break Kevin played in Neil Macken and Pirlo made no mistake firing into the roof of the net for a great finish and a 3-1 half-time lead.

 

We fell asleep a bit at the start of the second half and were caught out by a ball over the top to allow them get a goal back in the first minute. They had their best spell then and we needed to do a bit of defending with one stand-out tackle from Paul Carey.

 

We settled after that and Sam, again outstanding in midfield, created a good chance for Kevin. Then in the 20th minute of the half we scored again. Fred put in a super ball to find Jason who did brilliantly to put Darragh in space to score with a fine finish to make it 4-2.

 

In the closing moments Sam had a shot narrowly wide and then both Fred and Jason had efforts hacked off the line as we finished strongly.

 

We were happy with our win and happy with our performance. Overall, we had two wins and a draw from four games, scoring ten goals and from eight different goal scorers. However we also conceded nine and have much work to do but also learned loads.

 

There was little time for immediate reflection as we were soon back on the bus and on our way to Burnley for the big game at 3.00pm. En route Jason did the catering and performed the miracle of the loaves and the fishes feeding the multitudes.

 

Traffic into Burnley was crazy. The sooner they open the new Garrycastle Bridge the better!

 

Burnley are playing Wigan. Burnley need two points to win promotion. Wigan are still in the hunt for the play-offs. We paid a visit to the Club Shop but once inside the Stadium the atmosphere was brilliant and Turf Moor was packed to the rafters.

 

James McClean was starting for Wigan and we gave him a big cheer as he went off after his warm-up and he came over and acknowledged us. That was good of him.

 

As the game started the atmosphere exploded. It was only amazing. 

 

The game itself was poor. Fast and furious but lacking in quality. Wigan never played the good football that had overwhelmed Reading on Friday and Burnley, driven on the mighty home support took charge and scored two goals in the 22nd and 42nd minute. Uwe Rosler came back out of the dressing room after less than five minutes and sat on his own in the Wigan dugout which provoked a response from his team who were much better in the second half.

 

But Burnley were not to be denied and the nearer we got to the final whistle the noise and temperature just rose and rose and the final whistle was greeted by a mass pitch invasion and there right in the middle of it was the ADSL boys! We took part in the celebrations every bit as much as the diehard locals. Callum and a few more made it onto TV. Tom and Stephen were even interviewed by BBC Local Radio with Tom coming out with the quote of the week – “I’ve been waiting all my life for this moment !”  Priceless!

 

It was terrific to be a part of and involved in. The lads enjoyed every second of it in a unique experience. We were most pleased for Brian. He is a dedicated and devout Burnley supporter and has given them many minutes of loyal and singular selfless support! “Unbelievable Jeff!”

 

After the game it was back to the bus stopping on the way to ambush Emerson Boyce and Ali Al Habsi. 

 

However our bus driver would not stop on the way to the airport to get some food and we were dropped to Manchester Airport for just after 7.0pm for our 11.00pm flight. It was a long wait. We did get to eat, do a bit more shopping and met up with two Cork guys in a good bit of fun. We also had another bout of joke telling and the mood was so good that nobody really cared when it was announced that our flight was delayed by 25 minutes.

 

As it turned out our flight was delayed a little longer but no one seemed to mind as we took off from Manchester the boys broke into a spontaneous “We are going up – We are going up”.

 

We landed in Dublin well after midnight bringing this incredible Tour into a seventh day. Lads however were just banjaxed with most sleeping on the bus trip down and a few needing rousing from a deep coma when we finally got to Athlone for 02.25.

 

We were met by a large group of parents and family and the van with all our other gear and soon we were are off home in different directions with different highlights and memories but all agreed that this was six of the most fantastic days of our young lives.

 

“Unbelievable Jeff !”

 

 

                                                        POSTSCRIPT

 

By any standard this has been a fantastic Tour.

 

There are at least 23 good reasons for that. Each of the 23 players were brilliant, and in every way, and both on and off the playing pitch. They behaved themselves impeccably from start to finish. They were complimented on their behaviour everywhere we went. They represented their families, Clubs, League, Town and Country with honour and great distinction. All should be very proud of them.

 

However those same 23 players know how to enjoy themselves and they had a great time. They are and were very comfortable in each other’s company and mixed well and easily. They enjoyed each other’s company helped in no small way by a mighty selection of fantastic characters with an infectious good humour and sense of fun.

 

Certainly the adults in the Group enjoyed this trip and cannot remember when we have laughed so much or so often.

 

We must also thank the Management and Coaching team of Tommy Hewitt, Kieran “Gudgie” Gavin, Kevin Rohan and Anthony “Sher” Sherlock. They set the tone setting the standards to best prepare the Group for the Kennedy Cup while also enjoying the pervading sense of good humour. They made the trip.

 

We must thank Seamus McWalter for all his good work. He engages with the players like no other and the man is simply a legend. He made a huge contribution to a fantastic trip.

 

We also thank Lisa Mongan for looking after Heather and looking after the rest of the Group making a huge contribution to the enjoyment of the Tour.

 

We also want to thank Declan Carmody for all his help and in ways that not all will fully know or appreciate. We also thank Ger Colclough for driving the van of gear over and back. We also want to thank those parents and families who travelled over for some or all of the Trip and gave such support and encouragement to all the players.

 

Together this made for a fantastic trip to the UK. Fantastic accommodation and food. Four great games to play in, two fantastic games to attend, Stadium tours, swimming, cinema, bowling and the visit by James McClean.  Many unforgettable moments. It was hugely enjoyable. But it was also hugely beneficial. The players were introduced to standards and good habits that can only improve them as players and hopefully also as people.

 

Three words can only best describe it – “Simply unbelievable Jeff!”





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