English Super Cup Day 1   07/08/2018


           WEDNESDAY 25TH JULY 2018

Players started to arrive well before the appointed time for departure laden down with cases and bags.

You’d wonder how long some of them are going for?

Our Bus was there waiting for us – a huge beast of a machine that will stay with us all the way to Manchester and back!

All the way to Manchester! Yes the day has finally arrived. We have been looking forward to this since first suggested back in September and we have all heard the stories about previous trips and Tournaments. We have put in extra Training over the last few weeks, there have been fundraisers and meetings but now it is the day when we finally go.

Yes we are going to Manchester!

The excitement is unreal. This is a first trip for the Under-12’s while most of the Under-13’s were in Trabolgan as Under-11’s back in 2016. This is just off the scale and the excitement and anticipation is unreal.

Michael O arrives looking like a Rock Star – cool shades and a cooler baseball cap. Adam K just arrives – we were worried about him. Thought he might forget! But he is here! Eoin is not long off the plane from Canada! The 2 Adams have arrived from somewhere in East Galway! Kyle F has made it in from darkest Tubberclair! Even Jason is on time! Well kind of!  

For some reason the Under-13’s gravitate towards the back of the bus. The 12’s seem happy to let them have it. All over there is a giddy chatter and some nervous laughter. Soon it is time to wave goodbye to parents and family. No turning back now!

In fact we actually leave at 11.32am – a full two minutes behind schedule. Will we ever make that up?

We are not long gone until it is time for our first stop.

We stop in Moate to visit Tim’s grave.

Tim would have been with us on this Trip. We miss Tim but we will never forget Tim. That it is why it is important to pay our respects and to ask Tim to look after us while away.

The U-13’s are to visit the grave and it was left up to the U-12’s but everyone went in to the quiet churchyard. It was quite a sight as all 45 boys stood quietly in silent tribute to “one of our own”.

Very little needed to be said. The quiet dignity and respect spoke volumes. The manner in which it was done was a wonderful tribute to Tim and said a lot about these young boys. It was the right thing to do.

We wish that Tim could be with us. In a way perhaps he is. But we will always remember Tim and his family but especially on days like these.

This was very moving and, for quite a few, very emotional. But we are all glad we started our Trip this way.

We quietly got back on the bus to resume our journey. It was quiet for a short time. But Tim is very definitely with us because it did not last long and soon we were engulfed in raucous good humoured noise. What a beautiful noise!

The journey passed quickly. The sense of anticipation grew as we entered and exited the Port Tunnel (not forgetting to duck!) as we made our way to Dublin Port.

Conor badly needed a wee wee stop. We tried to tell him to think of something else – a babbling brook, a running tap, a waterfall. None of that seemed to help!

We did make a stop. What a relief!

Into the shop to spend the last of the Euro before we have to leave the Mainland for that offshore island to our east. For fear that in Brexit UK that they have run out of essential foodstuffs etc we loaded up on all manner of junk. We nearly lost Ballinasloe Keelan who was not leaving without his Chicken Tenders no matter what time the “boat” was going at!

We must make mention at this stage of our driver – Michael. It is obvious already that we have a gem here and he will make our Trip better. We are very lucky to have him.

So back onto the Bus and soon there was wide eyed excitement as the huge “boat” loomed into view. We sometimes forget that these boys are 12 and 13! Fellas were up out of their seats in eager anticipation. Michael turned a blind eye with a small smile. The sheer wonder of it all!

We had a short wait before boarding but were entertained by a huge group of Brazillian bikers and soon we were aboard. We parked up alongside two huge trucks. Apparently this is Kyle G’s supply of hair gel. Should last him to Friday! Maybe Saturday!

We went up the stairs from the car deck, found a base, and then it was off to explore!

This was a first such experience for many but even the veterans could not conceal their excitement as we discovered all that the “boat” has to offer. Soon we were on our way moving slowly out of Dublin Port on the next stage of our adventure.

We also went out on deck. Michael O lost his fancy cap overboard! Happily his head was not in it at the time! Adam K lost his runners! When asked where they were he replied that they were watching a movie in the cinema!

It was a calm crossing and time passed quickly. The ADSL Bank was busy with the first of the Withdrawals! And then a few Lodgements! And then a few Withdrawals! Then a few Lodgements! Before we disembarked Adam K lost his Top. We eventually found it but a pattern is starting to emerge here!

Remarkably we still had 45 by Holyhead as we went back down to the car deck to get on our bus. Excitement is now at fever pitch!

Clive was right all along! We were going to Wales! He kept telling us that we were going to Wales. We tried to tell him we were going to Manchester. But no. We were going to Wales. And he is right. At least for a time as we rolled down the motorway through Wales, heading for Manchester.

Josh looked a bit sad. He explained that we were no longer in Wales! His dad would be proud of that one!

There was mighty craic on the bus aided and abetted by the Bus microphone and the start of the battle between the Under-12’s and the Under-13’s for some nebulous supremacy.

There was another wee wee stop en route. Happily it was not a food stop given the amount of rats we saw in the car park some of whom sat up and waved at us!

By 8.00pm or thereabouts we were in Manchester with necks craned for a better look at all that was about us. It came as a blessed relief to some to discover that they have McDonalds over here! Look they have Tesco and Aldi too! We are not that far from civilisation!

We soon located our Accommodation but only for long enough to unload the Bus and store our belongings as we headed off for something to eat.

At this time all staff were long gone home but they had left food for us in a nearby University dining hall.

It was all cold food. Sandwiches. Spicy chicken on sticks. Onion bargees. Fruit. Spicy chips. Tea and coffee. Juices. It was every man for himself!

Some of the Hodson Bay boys were a bit upset. They would not be used to slumming it like this. They were expecting waiter service. At least. Perhaps a gazpacho starter. Followed by perhaps Monkfish with nori, turmeric and with just a hint of fennel!

No chance! Welcome to Manchester boys!

After the Ballybay boys had composed themselves we walked back to the Accommodation. If boys are tired it is nowhere obvious!

We are staying in the Peel Park Campus in Salford University. The front of the building is a huge towering eight story red brick building but we are staying in behind that in a separate block – the Radcliffe Building on the 1st and 2nd floors of a 4 story building.

We are shown to our building and then given our keys. There is a Card which opens the doors to the outside building and to our block and the outside door on our floor. We then have a key which opens our own Room. Nobody is taking odds on Adam K not losing his Card & Key in the next 15 minutes!

The Rooms are together in blocks of 6 or 8 with a communal kitchen. There are four such Houses on each floor which neatly accommodates all of us.

The room is fine. A bed, loads of wardrobe space (like anyone will be using that), an en suite toilet, sink and shower per room, a desk and a chair. Home for the next six days! Grand!

Each age group then has Team Meetings to set out the plan for tomorrow and we also get our playing gear for tomorrow’s games.

Then before bed there is still time for a cup of tea in the individual kitchens. House 1 on the 1st Floor have a secret stash of chocolate biscuits and reportedly an even more secret stash of even more delightful delicacies while Tommy F also shows an adept and happy knack for stealing milk (sorry, borrowing milk) that will stand him in good stead with his housemates for the week.

They might make a decent cup of tea but the idea of cleaning up behind them has not yet quite caught on! Something to work on!

And so off to bed. A long first day but a great first day. How much sleep will be got remains to be seen!

But we still have all 45 mammy! Don’t be worrying about them. They are having a fantastic time!

Good night!


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