A trip of a lifetime was had by the U13 boys from Pearse Celtic who travelled to the UK to play in the well known international tournament in Blackpool.
The tournament, set up in 1994, had a wide range of international participants. Each year, participants represent around 10 nationalities.
Every team has its own agenda: one team goes for the international competition, whereas another goes for the attractions of Blackpool. Everyone has their own priorities, but the Blackpool Cup has grown to become a real football classic.
And for Pearse, the agenda was simple: to give the kids a trip of a lifetime, and that they certainly did.
A Club coach and mother whose two boys played in the tournament, Lorraine Kennedy said a fantastic experience was had by all. “From start to finish it was an unforgettable trip for all involved.
We travelled as a group of 29 people, 16 kids and 13 adults who all got along and made memories of a lifetime together.
“The boys represented the club very well and flew the flag high for Pearse. We didn’t go to Blackpool to win cups or medals, we went to make memories, to have fun, and play boys in different positions giving them the freedom that we couldn’t give during the league season and in doing so, we were still very lucky to take home medals.”
Being on a ferry was a first for many of the group and it added to the experience, one in which Lorraine was grateful for her two boys Killian and Darragh along with all the other boys to experience.
“The team trip came about when coaches Brian Linehan, James fielding and Mike O’Keeffe, got an idea one night at training that a trip away would be good for the lads.
“They took it to committee member Gary Kennedy and from there the ball got rolling, which had to be done really quickly as it was just two weeks away from the deadline.
“I began fundraising immediately with bag packing in Dunnes Stores and a bingo loco in the Gallows Bar which was a fantastic event and contributed hugely to the trip for the kids.
“As usual, without the support from many other organisations the trip would not have been possible.
“Mr Bells, Peter O’Brien Construction, and OC Couriers covered the costs of jerseys and training tops, and also our coach Mike O’Keeffe [made a] substantial contribution to our bus.
“We cannot forget those who donated spot prizes, cash amounts big or small, and refreshments for this trip we are very thankful for and will continue to support those who supported us.”
Playing games against teams from other countries was a huge experience but also was following a schedule like professional footballers.
Up early, eating together as a team, travelling by bus to games, it was all part of the experience which the boys loved, but getting to watch a championship game between Blackpool and Cardiff was another huge highlight.
“There were many ‘firsts’ for the lads over the few days. Whether it was their first time travelling on a ferry, or their first time attending a professional game, we at Pearse were delighted to be able to give the lads this opportunity.
“Huge credit to all their parents for making it possible and huge credit to all the parents and volunteers who looked after them so well. Hats off to Gary, Brian, Mike, and James for giving the kids the best experience and memories.
“Along with myself, there was Amy O’Keefe and Adriana Pyrak who did superbly in taking 16 kids under their wing for the weekend from wake up calls, breakfast, lunch, dinner, to finding missing socks and providing sun cream for the glorious weather.
It certainly was a team effort from all involved.
“Goals over the tournament were scored by Jayden Ellard, Ollie Roche, Ryan McHale, Robert McCarthy, and Killian Kennedy, however, every one of the lads were superb and we as a club were very proud of them.
“We are already planning the next club trip and that is down to how well-behaved the lads were and how much we felt they got from the trip.
“The memories will last a lifetime we have no doubt about that.”