A travelling party of up to 50 soccer supporters will leave Castleisland by bus on this Sunday morning heading for the FIFA World Cup qualifying round game between Republic of Ireland and Austria in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The kick-off time is 5pm and the Castleisland support group, which will include players and parents / guardians, is being led by one of the game’s finest examples of a grassroots advocate, Georgie O’Callaghan.
Guard of Honour
Only recently, Georgie had his players from the juvenile wing of the local club, immaculately turned out, form a guard of honour for con-celebrants, Fr. Dan O’Riordan PP Castleisland and Fr. David Lupton during the latter’s brief visit to Castleisland. It was also the Castleisland half of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Fr. Lupton’s ordination.
There, local and visitor mingled and reminisced of the events of the furiously fleeting years.
Sympathies were offered to the visitors on the terrible atrocities in Manchester but plans for the future and further exchanges abounded.
Then Fr. Lupton joined Fr. Dan O’Riordan in celebrating the christening of the child of a local family.
44th. Trip to Manchester
Georgie, in the meantime was localising telephone numbers with the visitors and promising to see them again in August when he embarks on his 44th annual cross-channel visit.
In the late 1970s, the first crossing of the paths of Castleisland Juvenile Soccer Club Coach/Manager, Georgie O’Callaghan and the Manchester based Fr. David Lupton occurred.
At the time, Georgie would have been on his fourth annual, cross-channel trip with a coach load of Castleisland AFC youngsters.
Fr. Lupton was similarly occupied in his parish in Manchester and eventually their teams met as part of the exchange.
These were tough and trying times in terms of Anglo-Irish relations but the two men soldiered on and became firm friends.
40th Year of Association
Friends, and forward looking, to the extent that they are now marking the 40th year of their association in sport.
This continued below the radar for many years and local gifts and momentos were exchanged on the two-way visits by the clubs involved.
However, in early June 2008, Kerry County Council honoured both men with a civic reception at Áras Chontae in Tralee.
The reasons: “For a lifetime of dedication and commitment to up-and-coming soccer stars in their respective communities.”
The Mayor of Kerry at the time was Cllr. Michael Healy Rae and he expressed his delight to be in a position to honour both men.
Both Sides of the Irish Sea
“They have brought together and touched in a very positive way thousands of people on both sides of the Irish Sea,” said Mayor Healy Rae.
Fr. Lupton has been honoured several times in his own parishes in Manchester where he has worked with many Irish families through his calling – from which he fostered a love for the country and its people.
In fact, he has a home in Glenbeigh and he spent time there during his recent visit and hopes to eventually spend his retirement years there.
Georgie O’Callaghan’s greatest accolade came in 2004 when he was honoured by President Mary McAleese. That was for his dedication, over a span of 35 years, to the sporting welfare of the youngsters of the area.
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