Friday, August 7, 2015

Sunset and our final entry.

The sun is setting on our trip and we are reflecting on a wonderful 10 days in Ireland.
Our last day began by letting the team sleep in to prepare for our last match.  We paused our "go go go" pace and hit the snooze button.  They were soooo happy.

Our last match was back in Dublin, where this great adventure began, against the Ladies from UCD (University City Dublin).  This team rosters a few players with youth national team experience and the squad plays in the Irish Women's National League.  A very similar squad to the Wexford team that we played earlier.

The facility was gorgeous.  This pitch had hosted a UEFA qualifying match last week and was in "tip top" shape.

After a good pre-game warmup, the JCWS Ladies played their best match of the trip.  Our energy level was high and our soccer brains were turned on.  We did a lot of defending but it made sense and was done at a high level.  A great way to close out our soccer experience in Ireland.  We enjoyed a great meal with our opponent after the match and then headed back to the hotel to pack.

I have two main goals in mind when I plan these trips.  I want the team to play high level, quality soccer and I want them to catch the "travel bug."  I want them to say "Ill be back" or "I can't wait to go and visit another country."  We are part of a big world.  We just made it a little more familiar.  Job well done!  Thanks for following.

All best.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Back on the web, for now!

My apologies for no blog story on Monday.   After arriving back in County Cork from London on Sunday, we headed west for the coast and the internet and wifi are not as easily accessible as they are in the east.

Sunday night, after a day exploring Killarney, we enjoyed a wonderful night at Bunratty Castle for a night of traditional Irish food and Irish song and dance.  Traditional Irish stew (lamb) and plenty of potatoes and wonderfully talented Irish dancers made for a terrific evening.

What we are lacking in bandwidth, however, we are making up in sheer beauty.
Yesterday (Monday), we travelled to the coastal area of Galway Bay and the famous Cliffs of Moher. Galway Bay is quickly becoming the "California coast" of Ireland.  Surfing has taken off and there are surf shops everywhere you look.  Somehow, surfing when it's 50 degrees out doesn't jive with this former Californian!  The waves and wind were big and the bold were out on their boards. Two of our own couldn't resist the pull of the ocean and waded in to "catch some Irish surf."

Right up the road from the Galway Bay Area are the Cliffs of Moher.  Oh my goodness, what a beautiful place.  Dangerous but amazingly beautiful.  We all climbed and climbed and filled our SD cards with pictures of natures beauty.

Monday night had your Eagles competing in our second match.  The opponent tonight was the Limerick Ladies and your Eagles fell 0-1.  Too much climbing on top of a couple of mornings that began at 4:00 ish zapped us of energy.

Today (Tuesday), we slept in for the first time and started our trip back to Dublin for our final match and the final night of the trip.  Our final match was against the women's team from UCD (University City Dublin).  A top notch team from the Irish National Women's League, their facilities  and players looked like a mid size Division I program from home.

Our ladies saved their best performance for last as they played the UCD ladies close but fell in the end.  By far, the best soccer of the trip.  Communication and ball movement was much improved and our team defensive performance was mid-season level.  A good sign as we begin preseason in just two weeks.

We are off to the airport in the morning and heading home.  We will miss our Irish friends and we will cherish our time here in beautiful Ireland.  Until next time, Slainte! (That is Gaelic for Good fortunes)
All best.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

London in a day

How 'bout the task of covering one of the worlds most historic and beautiful cities in one day?

London.  Check!

We rose early and hopped a Ryan Air flight from Cork to London and "got right to it!"  After landing, we enjoyed a great English breakfast right 'neath the shadow of Windsor Castle.  A pretty amazing weekend get-a-way if you ask me!

After touring Windsor, we departed for an afternoon Darby between Fulham and Crystal Palace.  It's the last preseason tune up for both sides and they played entertaining football to a 1-1 draw.

After dinner in the Marleybone section of London, it was off to see Buckingham Palace.  It was truly amazing as was Big Ben and Parliment.

Today, we caught an early morning flight back to Cork and are now off to Kilarney.

More later.
All best.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Which way to Kinsale?

Friday (Day 5) of our Irish adventure was an off day from competing and training and we traveled to the picturesque coastal village of Kinsale, in County Cork. We has a wonderful walking history lesson and tour from a local historian.  Did you know that the sinking of the Lusitania, which triggered the US entry into World War I occurred just 11 miles off the coast of Kinsale?  Did you know that the characters from the children's tale of Robinson Caruso were based on folks from Kinsale?  How about this, William Penn, who gave his name to our State, lived in Kinsale with his parents!!!

After the history lesson and tour and a great lunch at the White Lady restaurant (named after a local ghost!  Ask us about it), we took a boat tour of Kinsale Bay.  A wee bit chilly but a fantastic outing on the bay.

A lot of shopping and walking and then we returned to Cork for the night.  We take off, literally, in the morning for a day in London.  We will tour the city and attend a London Darby between Crystal Palace and Fulham at Craven Cottage.  It will be a fantastic day.  I may not be able to post a blog tomorrow night but I will try.

Until next time.  All best.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Two, two, two days in one!!

Good evening from County Cork.  I'm sorry that I didn't post last night.  By the time we returned from the match and dinner with our opponent, I was too tired to say anything that you would have enjoyed.

Today brought us through Waterford, one of Ireland's oldest cities where we toured the famous Waterford Crystal operation.  We had a wonderful tour and saw some amazing craftsmen at work.

After leaving Waterford, we traveled Blarney where we toured Blarney Castle, a medieval castle and home to the famous Blarney Stone.  Many of our team members will enjoy the benefits because there was a lot of kissing going on!!!!!  Kissing the Blarney Stone is supposed to ensure that you will forever have the gift of gab.  That will be great for the bus rides this year!!!

We departed Blarney and spent a wonderful two hours touring and shopping in the great city of Cork.  What a wonderful downtown area with great shops (shoppes) and friendly people.

Yesterday began with a wonderful tour of Kilkenny including Kilkenny Castle.  What terrific history of the grand Victorian era.  We had a great lunch in Kilkenny and then headed off to Wexford for our first match.

Now, about last nights match.  We competed against the Wexford Ladies, the 2014/15 Women's League Champion in all of Ireland.  A few members of the team are on different teams within the Irish National system and this team is heading to Poland next week to compete against the Polish National Champion and the National champs from Lithuania.  We held our own for a lot of the match but dont have the match fitness yet to keep up with a team that's at the end of their season.  We lost the match but gained admirers in Ireland.  Apparently, we play with "pluck".  That was meant to compliment our resolve and fight!  I'll take that.  I am working on figuring out the technology that will allow me to download photos from the game.  By the way, I forgot to mention that our center official for last nights match officiated at the Women's World Cup in Canada!

Good night for now.  More tomorrow.
All best

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dublin - What a wonderful city

Good evening.  It's the close of a very busy day 2 in Dublin.  We started off with a tremendous Irish Breakfast and then it was off to explore Dublin. What an amazing city.  So much history and beautiful architecture.

We started with Dublin Castle and the incredible gardens.  On the way to the Castle, we passed by the birthplace and statue of Oscar Wilde.  So much rich history in this city.

Then it was off to the Guinness factory for a lesson in the partnership between a large corporation and a city.  Dublin and Guiness have a win/win relationship with civic engagement and responsibility at the core.

Lunch was served at O'Neils Pub.  The food was terrific and there was a lot of it!!  O'Neils Pub is exactly what an Irish Pub should look like and feel like.  What an amazing experience.

Tonight's match was postponed to next Tuesday due to the participation of many of our opponents in recent Irish National team training.  We took advantage and had a great training session in advance of our match tomorrow in Kilkenny.

They say that if you don't like the weather in Ireland, wait five minutes because it will change. We experienced that tonight at training.  Sunny to rain to hail and back to sunny in 75 minutes.  Which do you think was about to happen as this picture was shot?

It's off to Kilkenny in the morning.  We will be in Waterford tomorrow as well which is one of the oldest cities in Ireland.

Good night for now.  All best..

Monday, July 27, 2015

Here are a few more pictures from Day 1 in Ireland.

The castle in Malahide.

Dublin from afar.

The coolest lighthouse I've ever seen aka my new retirement address!!!!!

JCWS at the castle in Malahide.