Manchester United displayed a power surge of gigawatt proportions last month when they beat a representative Airtricity League XI selection 7-1 during the spectacular Airtricity Challenge, the historic opening football match at Dublin’s stunning new Aviva Stadium.
Sir Alex Ferguson made it clear from the off that he had every intention of bringing the Airtricity Challenge silverware home to Old Trafford by fielding a star-studded Manchester United side that included Rooney, O’Shea, Park, Vidic, Gibson, Valencia, Carrick, Owen and Chicharito in the pre-season friendly against domestic coach Damien Richardson’s selection of players from the Airtricity League.
With a result that was never in doubt even before the 50,000 tickets were sold and in spite of the powering performance of Sir Alex’s men, the Airtricity League side battled manfully and displayed immense footballing courage against the aristocratic footballing side. St Patrick’s Athletic’s Dave Mulcahy notched the Airtricity XI’s stunning sole goal of the evening with a magnificent 78th minute finish after Conor Powell’s mazy run tore through the United defence. The goal prompted the first-ever chant from the home crowd of the traditional ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’ in the new home of Irish football.
Proud Manchester United captain for the evening, Ireland’s own John O’Shea, led his squad out onto the pitch for the stadium housewarming, each accompanied by a young Airtricity ambassador, all of whom won their mascot honours online at Airtricity.com or via Airtricity-sponsored promotions in the national media.
While there was little doubt that the travelling Premiership side was the star of the show, there was no doubt that the host of was
As Ireland’s fastest growing energy firm, Airtricity was proud to play its part at this important sporting occasion. The Airtricity Penalty Challenge saw four talented young under-15 footballers shoot-it-out in a fun four-province competition for local club glory at half-time, while the company also presented the first-ever Airtricity Legends award to former Waterford stalwart Johnny Matthews in recognition of his contribution to Irish league football. The presentation of the Airtricity Challenge trophy at full-time by Kevin Greenhorn, Airtricity Managing Director, to victorious Manchester captain John O’Shea was a fitting end to the event.
Kevin Greenhorn, Managing Director, Airtricity, comments: “We are delighted to have been sponsors of the Airtricity Challenge. This was more than just a football match – it was the most highly-anticipated Irish football event of the year and will long be remembered as a spectacular sporting occasion. As well as being watched by 50,000 fans in the stadium, and by football fans live on Ireland’s RTE TV and globally on MUTV, the Airtricity Challenge has also become one of the most-viewed clips on YouTube with over 1.5 million views in just three days. The Airtricity Challenge demonstrates the real value that our sponsorship of domestic Irish soccer is bringing to Irish football.”