Calais - Somme Battlefields

On Friday morning we woke to a fresh -1 degrees and headed out to the Somme Battlefields stopping along the way to stock up on lunch and snacks and lucky enough to see a magnificent sunrise. We met our guide John Anderson.
First stop was Poziers where 23,000 Australians died at war. We then toured on to other sites including Thiepval, 1st Division Australian Memorial, Dernancourt Cemetary, walked through the trenches, drove by several memorials. John was fantastic explaining much history to us.

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Paris

This morning our Paris guide, Janice, met us at the hotel and we began our half day tour around Paris.
So many sights to see...Latin Square, Notre Dame, Opera House, Ven Dome Square (Hotel Ritz location), Louvre, Champs Élysées, arc de Triomphe, Napoleon's Tomb, Field of Mars, various museums finished at Eiffel Tower with clear sky's and the sun shining. Now we've got the climb.

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Cheltenham & Cotswolds

This morning we left the hotel and went on a tour to Cheltenham Racecourse. Some of the boys had slept in so at the racecourse they did a short off legs fitness session.
We then toured through the Costwolds, a really beautiful part of England, stopping at Stow for a look at the shops before we had lunch at Guiting Power at the Hollow Bottom Pub where we presented each player with some fun awards. Thank you to Mike Edwards for the tour today and all he has done for us on this trip.
We then had the long bus journey to Dover for the P&O ferry to Calais.
We are now in France and all are enjoying the trip so far. We head to the Somme Battlefields tomorrow.

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Dunbrody Famine Ship

In Wexford we were able to stop at New Ross and do a tour of the Dunbrody Famine Ship where we experienced a brief re-enactment of how families travelled to relocate from Ireland to America in 1849. There were 51 of us squashed into the below deck area, which is where all steerage passengers were confined to for sleeping, eating and general living. Each journey took 240 passengers which we could see how difficult that would be. Thee were no showers, passengers only allowed up on deck for half an hour a day in groups and they couldn't change the clothes for the journey. Typically a family which could have been 7 or 8 passengers were allocated a small wooden bunk as their space to live. A very small ration of food was given twice a week.

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Last games v Bray Emmets

Last night we played our last games of the tour against Bray Emmets. This was the first time Wanderers have visited this club in the town of Bray in County Wicklow, about 40 minutes out of Dublin. Before the games we had the opportunity to see a game of Hurling demonstrated, which is a very fast game played with a Hurley (wooden stick) and a sliothah (pronounced slitter, is similar to a baseball).
The U15's played a great game which was a very even free flowing game. We again used the Sherrin in the second half. We won the game leaving this team undefeated winning all 6 of their games.
The U16's played their best game of the tour, used the ball very well and really enjoyed themselves. They also won the game which was the first win for the tour and they were very happy with the result.
Post game we enjoyed more Irish hospitality in the club rooms where some Irish music was played with dancing and the boys finished with renditions of Advance Australia Fair and Waltzing Matilda.
We left Bray and stayed overnight in Dublin before departing very early this morning for the ferry to Holyhead in Wales. The tour group was fantastic this morning with being on time as we had to be on the bus at 6am and everyone made it!
No on to some sightseeing in Wales before heading to France.

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Matches against Ballinacourty

Tonight we played against the Ballinacourty GAA club in U15 and U16. Both games were played in two halves.
The U15 team outplayed the less experienced Ballinacourty team however the game was played in good spirits and the Irish boys enjoyed using the Sherrin in the second half.
The U16 team played better tonight but unfortunately lost by 3 points to an Irish team who used the round ball very well.
At the post game presentation Ballinacourty presented a player from each of our teams with a best player award which was one of the team jumpers. The U15 player was Lyndon Hupfeld, and the U16 player was Lochlan Carlisle.

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On the road again

This morning we farewelled our hosts in Listowel after a very enjoyable time. We were on the road to County Waterford and stopped along the way in Dungarvan for a tour of the Al Eile Thoroughbred Racing Stud which has been operating for nine years. Service fees are 125,000 pound. This is the home of Finsceal Beo a mare currently in foal to Frankel and recently had a yearling sell for 2.8 million pound. We got to see all operations of the stud.

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U15's v Listowel

Before the game the boys were welcomed by All Ireland Medallist and the writer of the compromise rules for the GAA. The boys played a great closely contested game against Listowel. We used the ball very well however were not getting reward for effort, their goaly will have a few bruises today as we kicked the ball into him several times. At half time the Sherrin was brought out which the Irish struggled with but both teams enjoyed the game. Wanderers won in the end by 20 points.
Tadhg Kennelly arrived at half time which gave the boys a boost, he came into the rooms and spoke to the boys after the game. Many of the boys then had photos with Tadhg.
We enjoyed post game refreshments and presentations to both Ballydonoghue and Listowel clubs.

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Listowel

Today we spent the day in Listowel after a morning drive out to explore Dingle and look for Funghi the dolphin. We were asked to participate in the Christmas Parade in Listowel which saw us marching behind the local band and Santa followed in his sleigh. The parade when around the main street of Listowel, where we literally stopped traffic. After the parade the boys had lunch and then we went to Frank Sheehy Park in Listowel to watch the North Kerry County Semi Final, which Listowel will play the winner of their match next week in the final. The boys were taken in to the field before the game to be introduced to the crowd. The boys enjoyed seeing a Gaelic game. Then some free time before preparing for our match tonight.

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U16 Game v Ballydonoghue

The U16 team faced one if the best teams in the county, the Kerry County Champions. First quarter was a slow start for us and we didn't use the ball well. Second quarter was better and we scored 2 goals. At half time we brought out the Sherrin which did little to change the oppositions attack on the ball, they are very skilful. AFL recruiters beware. Unfortunately we lost the game. Post game the boys enjoyed some Irish hospitality before leaving with their host families from Ballydonoghue and Listowel.

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Kilarney

Departed Monaleen en route to Listowel and stopped at Kilarney for lunch and a look around. After lunch we stopped at a lookout which gave us a great view of the Lakes of Kilarney. Before arriving at Listowel Emmets ground we stopped at Ballybunion, a seaside town, and the boys explored the beach where the water would be a brisk 10 degrees.

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U16 Game v Monaleen

The U16 team played well against Monaleen last night, most of their team had played against our U15's the night before but that didn't affect their game. Monaleen were in front early and we fought back in the third quarter and although the fourth quarter was very even with the Sherrin, Monaleen were too strong and won the game. Our boys played with good sportsmanship and all player are really enjoying the experience over here...not just the footy but the whole experience spending time with families and sightseeing.
After the game we all went back to Monaleen club rooms for post game celebrations and presentation to the Club. The boys mixed well with the locals and their hospitality was once again sensational. The Monaleen parent hosts really praised and complimented our boys on their good behaviour and said what a great bunch of boys they are.
This morning we meet up with the boys when they farewell their hosts and head across to Co Kerry and will visit Kilarney along the way.

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Limerick County Hall

Councillor Mike Sheahan and Caroline O'Kane took us to the Limerick County Hall. But before they do...number off correctly next time boys!!
The boys had the opportunity to sit in Chambers being addressed by Councillor John Sheahan, the Chairman who is the equivalent of the Mayor of the County and wished us well for the remainder of the tour. The boys closed Council with a rendition of Advance Australia Fair! As we left Chambers each was presented with a memento of the occasion. They even flew our flag at the entrance.

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