There’s a ritual now that’s attached itself to the annual, Castleisland School-boys’ tour to Manchester each August. There would have to be. Arch organiser, Georgie O’Callaghan wouldn’t have it any other way. Anyway, you can’t be doing something for over 40 years without drawing some habits on yourself.
It’s off to mass at the Church of Saints Stephen and John on the morning before departure; go home and do the final packing; get some sleep; get up and get back into town to catch an O’Flaherty’s Coach in the early hours of the morning and hit the road for Dublin; across the Irish Sea to Holyhead onto motorways and the fun goes on….
Georgie O’Callaghan and his schoolboy soccer squad from Castleisland AFC are well on the road this morning and heading off on their annual trip to Manchester.
Incredibly, this is the club’s 41st uninterrupted trip to England. There, Georgie finds a near-perfect reflection, of his own unbridled enthusiasm for the game, in Fr. David Lupton. They have both been providing diversion and an outlet for teams of youngsters for the past several generations.
I can well imagine that there are grandsons of the first sets of schoolboys, who partook of those first few trips ‘across’ in the early 1970s, making the trip now.
Fr. Lupton serves a parish in St James The Less in Rossendale, Manchester. He organises a range of activities for the school-boys for the duration of the trip. They take in events like: Swimming; Go-Karting; Laser Combat and a roller-coaster experience at Blackpool.
The most exciting events will be a tour of Manchester City stadium and a trip to Old Trafford to see the mighty Manchester United take on Swansea City for their opening Barclay’s Premiership game.
There, the touring ‘Islanders’ will get a chance to see Louis van Gaal’s new United line up including their new signings: Luke Shaw and Ander Herra – as well as their United heroes: Rooney, Van Pierse and De Gea and Mata.
“This is the highlight of the year for us in the club it takes a lot of organisation but it’s a great trip every year. I would like to thank Donal Flaherty who will be driving us around all week,” said Georgie.
Club members, John Mitchell and Tommy Roche are travelling to help out with the logistics of the trip.
“The players and their families have worked hard to get on the bus for the trip. Over there, we have also organised games against a handful of local teams. There will be some hard, sporting lessons to be learned and work to be done. If you like you could call it a working holiday. I’m sure everyone will enjoy it though,” said Georgie.