On Wednesday last, 15th, the Donegal Branch of the Manchester City Supporters Club hosted City and the FA Cup in Donegal.
The Manchester club’s City in the Community Coaching Scheme provided a full days coaching (free of charge) to around 90 kids between the ages of 6-16 years at Finn Park, Ballybofey – the home of Finn Harps FC. After four hours of coaching, the kids then got their pictures taken with the FA Cup after being presented with certificates and City goody bags by former City player Paul Lake, who is now the club’s City in the Community Ambassador.
The Donegal Branch of the Manchester City Supporters Club hosted the event and a big thank you to Joey O’Leary and everyone at Harps for the use of Finn Park and all their help. Joey spoke to the City personnel in attendance about City’s Community work in Manchester and he in turn outlined Harps’ own community work and the launch last week of the schools programme - needless to say a small bond was created on the day that hopefully can be developed upon more in the future.
Later that evening, everyone headed to Bonners Corner Bar in Ballybofey - the meeting place for the Donegal Branch - where again the FA Cup was again on show. The evening saw the nine-strong tour group from Manchester in attendance and a fabulously entertaining night of craic, stories and fund raising followed as the locals expressed their utmost delight at having City in their town. Needless to say, there was a few sore heads on some folk the next morning. Paul Lake was again the star attraction, and spent about an hour conducting a questions and answers session with the large number of City fans in attendance as well as signing copies of his book “I’m not really here.”
On the night, €600 was raised for the “City Giving” charity and also the Supporters Club made a contribution to Finn Harps Football Club. They also presented Paul Lake with a piece of Derryveagh Crystal and a Donegal Branch Polo Shirt.
The highlight of the evening saw Bonner’s Corner Bar become the tenth recipient of the official “Heart of the City” award. To celebrate the fans of MCFC that are based around the world City want to discover those places at the heart of different world cities and towns where supporters congregate to connect with the club. These are special places where on match-days, the team are cheered on by fans as they would if they were at the stadium. They act as community outposts, where City supporters abroad or on holiday can still connect with their beloved Blues.
“The warmth and hospitality of the welcome that the CITC Soccer School tour of Ireland party has received from Irish Blues throughout the week has been overwhelming and its testament to this great relationship that Bonner’s Corner bar is the next venue to receive it’s own HOTC plaque,” said the Official Manchester City website. Joe Doherty, Secretary of the Donegal Branch and Pat Bonner of Bonners Corner Bar received the plaque from Paul Lake. Bonner’s joins bars in New York, Toronto, Abu Dhabi and Paris amongst others as being officially the best place to watch the Blues and meet-up with likeminded fans.
The visit to Donegal was part of a week-long tour of the CITC Soccer Schools and the FA Cup to Ireland, with similar events also taking place in Limerick and Cookstown.
The Donegal Branch would like to thank the following: Sarah McBriar and Gavin Makel from Manchester City Football Club; former City player Paul Lake; The CITC Coaching Staff; Finn Harps Football Club and their Chairman, Joey O’Leary; Pat Bonner and staff at Bonners Corner Bar; All the kids and their parents who took part in the coaching session.