Some trip….. 10 days, 5000+ km in a bus….. basketball games in Ardres, Cork, Moycullen and Dublin…. photo opportunities at Stonehenge, Cork, Ring of Kerry (including a rare foreign bus visit to Valentia island), Ashford Castle, Kylemore Abbey, Kilmainham jail, The Guinness hopstore and the Emirates Stadium (and they’re the ones we know about 🙂 )
The Ireland leg began with an early morning arrival in Rosslare, a drive to Cork for a tour of the city and then three games in the Neptune Stadium, facilitated by our good friend, Ger Heaphy of Neptune (Thanks Ger..)…. On then to spend the night in Killarney on Munster Final day…. they enjoyed that :-)… they were fascinated with the crowd and the atmosphere around the town… Next day was a sightseeing one (the Ring of Kerry) …. weather was good enough to let them see, if not quite tropical….
They arrived in Moycullen and all 43 were divided out in a rush (as true Irish weather took hold)… thanks to all the families who gave up their time, their food and their beds…. The next day, Joe Loughnane led a raindance around Salthill and Galway city… by the time they arrived in the Kingfisher for the Moycullen games, poor Joe was in dire need of a change of clothes… the amount of water soaked up was enough to float a small boat…. thankfully Bridie was on hand… The games were entertaining and played in good spirits. The Slovenian U12’s were too strong for our U13’s with their ball handling and basics a joy to behold…. the Moycullen U17’s levelled the series comfortably against mainly U15 opposition but the visitors clinched the series when their Senior team comfortably defeated our mix of Galway League and Premier league players…. for the Premier league players, it was a good reminder that top level basketball requires year-round dedication…. Their number 7, Marko Kern, who had grown up playing in the company of Zoran Dragic, was a joy to behold as he shot 3’s, picked passes and generally ran the game…. the discussions in the bar that night were around whether he could be gainfully employed in Moycullen 🙂
Once the games finished, it was straight to the Forge for a well earned meal (thanks Con and the Forge staff) and a night of cultural exchange….. Gerry Nihill organised a collection of Moycullen’s finest traditional musicians (thanks Gerry and all the guys) while two of the Slovenian players showed their versatility by producing their own accordions (thanks Gaspar and Jure) for the Irish/Slovene equivalent of a ‘dance-off’…. the people present were the winners….. Damjan Korosec (Slovenian organiser) and John Cunningham exchanged gifts to mark the occasion and the party brought life to the normally quiet Tuesday night in Moycullen….
It was with great joy that we woke (with slightly sore heads) on Wednesday morning to see relatively clear skies, as the tour of Connemara was scheduled….. John joined Joe on the bus and an early shot of Slovenian “pear” firewater set the day in motion…. first up was Ashford castle and Cong village…. plenty of photo opportunities for which there were no shortage of takers…. On then to Connemara National park and Diamond Hill….. most settled for the blue route but some hardy souls went to the top…. the view was worth it. On return, our Slovenian friends had shown their wonderful self-sufficiency by providing a wonderful lunch of “eintopf (one-pot) and a choice of beers for the weary climbers…. no super-valu rolls for them… they are well used to these “tours” and have the full picnic-kit ready… burners, benches, etc.. and not a single bit of rubbish left after them…
From there it was a quick stop for photos at Kylemore Abbey and a cross-country run to Spiddal for an hour at the seaside before introducing them to Gaelic football up close at the minor game…. they got fully behind our Moycullen team and the An Ceathru Rua supporters knew all hope was gone when the accordions were broken out to play the last waltz…. the only blight on the occasion was the introduction for our Slovenian friends to the irish “midge”… which left its mark on one or two…
The following morning, it was time to say goodbye as the epic journey continued….. Dublin (Thanks Frank and the Kubs guys)… London and the road home….