The players and coaches from Ardee Celtic’s U15 and U16 squads embarked on the trip of a lifetime with DBSport Tours over the Easter break where they got to experience four Premiership clubs up close and personal.
The trip commenced on the Thursday with a visit to Liverpool where the group of 25 players got to train with Everton FC academy coaches at a training facility near Aintree. The professional coaches took the lads through their paces and offered some top tips and advice that will help the players in the future.
The following morning saw the group take in an access all areas tour of Old Trafford where the lads got to see the impressive Manchester United trophy room and museum. They also got to sit in the home dressing room beside their favourite players’ kit and had the experience of walking down the tunnel onto the pitch before sitting in the home and away dug-outs. The tour finished with a visit to the Nike megastore for some souvenirs, followed by lunch at the Red Devil Cafe.
On Friday afternoon both squads played a friendly game against local Manchester side Sale Community JFC with Ardee Celtic’s U16s winning 4-2 and the U15s unlucky to beaten by an excellent Sale team.
Friday’s activities were finished off with a visit to the Trafford Centre, one of Europe’s biggest shopping complexes.
On Saturday morning the lads played their final friendly games against a very strong U16 Broadheath Central side where all 25 players were used to great effect. The Ardee side were comfortable winners with goals from Tommy Molloy, Boris Bajtai, Caolach Halligan, James Caraher and Alan Caraher.
Saturday afternoon brought on the highlight of the trip when the lads travelled to the Brittania Stadium to watch Stoke City take on Aston Villa.
All 25 lads got to participate in the official pre-match activities as flag bearers. They surrounded the pitch waving giant flags as both sides took to the field and got within touching distance of the Premiership players.
During the warm ups and cool downs some of our players got to meet a number of the stars from both sides and get photos and autographs from players such as Michael Owen, Peter Crouch, Shay Given, Jonathan Walters and Charlie Adam. The Deesiders also managed to have a jersey signed from the same players which will be framed and displayed in the Townsparks clubrooms soon.
Saturday was concluded with a dip in the hotel pool followed by Match of the Day on the big screen where some of the lads were spotted waving their flags at the Stoke game, including Aaron McCabe who got a full screen close up shot, elevating him to local TV star ever since.
Sunday morning started with the presentation of the Top Goalscorer of the trip award to Tommy Molloy for his five goals and Man of the Match awards to Aidan Lee Martin, Daryl McDonagh and Niall Sharkey.
Ardee Celtic would like to pay big thanks to David Berber at DBSports Tours for a trip of a life time and making the lads feel special all weekend. Many thanks also to the coaches that came along to help, Warren, John, Pat, Robert, Carol and Paddy. A big thanks to Phoenix Embroidery for the training kits.
Finally a thanks to Carol and Robert McQuillan for their hard work since last September organising the trip and co-ordinating everything so smoothly. Everybody is looking forward to next year’s trip already.