Team Managers Oliver Martin and Kieran Donnelly accompanied fourteen under 15-year-old soccer players on an exchange programme to Carhaix from Sunday, October 26th to Wednesday October 29th. Seven parents/relatives of the players as well as Michael Mc Mahon, Chairman, Carrickmacross / Carhaix Town Twinning Association also travelled with Ryan Aer from Dublin Airport to Nantes.

Members of D.C. Carhaix Soccer Club and Mme Marie Louise Huiban met the group on arrival at Nantes and took them in two mini buses and two cars on the 2½-hour journey to Carhaix. After a snack in the D.C. Soccer Clubhouse the boys were introduced to the Carhaix players who took them to their homes as guests for the next three nights. The parents / relatives were accommodated in the homes of  D.C. Carhaix Club Officials or members of the Carhaix Town Twinning Association.

On Monday morning Oliver and Kieran took the Carrickmacross players for a light training session to limber them up for the day’s activities. Later in the morning they attended a civic reception in the Town Hall hosted by Mayor of Carhaix Christian Troadec and Councillor for Sport and Cultural Affairs Vincent Abaziou. After lunch they went to the impressive “Strikart” Bowling and Karting Club where they enjoyed themselves go carting for €10 a session.

The main event on the day was the Carrickmacross Rovers v D.C. Carhaix grand international match at 6pm (D.C. = Dernière Cartouche which means last cartridge). The standard of football was superbly high and the half time score was deservedly one all. An opportunistic move from a sideline free kick yielded a second goal to Carhaix shortly after the interval. A quick break by the Carhaix lads from the Rover’s half of the pitch, dramatically turned defence into attack and gave the home team a third goal. All agreed that the final score was not a true reflection of how evenly the two teams were matched.

The sportsmanship with which the Rovers boys accepted the final result and the passion and enthusiasm with which they played the game to the final whistle is a tribute to themselves and their Managers Oliver and Kieran. The Carhaix Twinning Committee hosted an excellent meal during which medals were presented to the two teams and the D.C. Carhaix Captain accepted the perpetual “Coupe de Jumelage” which was jointly sponsored by Carrickmacross and Carhaix Town Twinning Associations. In the course of the speeches the Carhaisien Officials complimented the Rovers boys on their discipline, exemplary behaviour, good manners, courtesy and sense of humour on and off the pitch.  After the meal players from the two teams enjoyed a few hours of 10 pin bowling.

Tuesday morning the Irish and French players togged out at 9.30 for an hour and a half coaching session with French Football Federation Professional Coach Olivier Cadic. In the afternoon the Carrick and Carhaix players participated in a six a side mini tournament with players from neighbouring town Plounévézel.  Even though there was neither cup nor medals to be won all the participants played their hearts out and enjoyed football for the sake of football. After the game the Carhaix and Carrick Rovers players spent a few hours in the swimming pool at a cost of €2.65 per head.

All agree that the soccer exchange was an outstanding success and we look forward to having the Carhaix team in Carrickmacross in 2009. Carrickmacross and Carhaix Town Twinning Associations were delighted to be in a position to help alleviate costs for the players thanks to grant aid from Europe for Citizens Programme from the European Union in Brussels. At the end of the day soccer was the winner and new friendships have been established in the true spirit of the Town Twinning Charter. The Rovers players conducted themselves with a maturity way beyond their years and are a credit to their families, their managers and their club.

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