Darragh meets hero Vieira on Limerick school visit

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

MANCHESTER City fan Darragh Ryan now has a picture he can treasure forever.

MANCHESTER City fan Darragh Ryan now has a picture he can treasure forever.

The 14-year-old lad from Lansdowne Park in Limerick, a student in St Gabriel’s School, met Manchester City ambassadors Patrick Vieira and Paul Lake on their visit to the Dooradoyle school this week.

Ironically Darragh’s Dad Sean is an Arsenal fan of 42 years, but Mum Mary is a Man City nut.

Vieira and Lake, who visited St Gabriel’s on Monday as part of the City in the Community scheme run by the Manchester club, were more than happy to pose for a picture with Darragh.

“They were amazing with the kids, and especially Darragh,” said proud Dad Sean afterwards.

“Darragh was delighted and I got to speak to them again later in the evening and I had a great chat with Paul and Patrick and how they enjoyed their time in St Gabriel’s. I am outnumbered now with two Man City fans in my house,” he laughed.

In fact, World Cup winning superstar footballer Vieira and former City player Lake, now an ambassador for the community scheme, were more than happy to pose for pictures and sign autographs with all of the children in St Gabriel’s and were visibly moved by their time in the school.

The duo brought the iconic FA Cup trophy to the school as part of their visit to the city, organised in conjunction with the Limerick branch of the official Man City supporters club and were they were greeted rapturously wherever they went. They were greeted with a rousing chorus of Man City anthem Blue Moon at St Gabriel’s.

Vieira, now a football development executive with Man City, with whom he finished his career as a soccer player, said it was “really difficult to find the words” to describe the reaction he received from the kids.

“When you are a footballer you are scoring goals and trying to win games but being here this morning is a different level,” he said.

“When you see the smiles of the kids that is priceless and as a football club it is really important for us to be close to the community,” he said.

Vieira was visibly taken with the kids in St Gabriel’s, taking time to pose for individual pictures with each child.

“As a footballer you always feel like you are privileged and I am healthy and you see some of the kids here who are struggling to be honest and to spend a few hours and try to make them smile, make the parents smile, I think is to be something that we should do more,” he said.

“To be around today really puts things in their place, sometimes we take things for granted and being here at this school is fantastic. I met some lovely people who are dedicated and the job they are doing is unbelievable.”

Paul Lake thanked the staff in the school, saying it was a “real pleasure and an absolute privilege for myself and Patrick to be here today”.

“Thank you so much for inviting us, it has been an absolute privilege,” Paul told the staff and kids.

Maire O’Leary, CEO of St Gabriel’s, said the visit “was amazing for the school and was a huge boost for the staff and the children”.

“This puts the spotlight on St Gabriel’s for a couple of hours and Patrick and Paul were so impressed with positive attitude in the school and the facilities that are here and it is just a wonderful opportunity for everybody to enjoy themselves,” she said.

The City delegation later attended coaching courses at Fairview Rangers soccer club in the city, featuring up to 80 children, where they presented certificates to all of the kids taking part.

They also attended a supporters club dinner at the Carlton Castletroy Park, where they were staying, and invited the supporters club to visit them in Manchester in the near future.