'EVERTON IN IRELAND' LAUNCHED
The 'Everton in Ireland' initiative has been launched in Dublin.
Representatives of the club travelled across the Irish Sea on Tuesday evening to attend the celebratory dinner that officially announced the link-up between Everton and the Republic of Ireland.
Lee Carsley, Kevin Sheedy and Keith Wyness were the guest speakers at the Lucan Spa Hotel in the Irish capital and over 180 enthusiastic Ireland-based Evertonians were also in attendance.
The new project will see Everton work closely with County Kildare-based football club, Ballyoulster United.
"Obviously, the dream would be to bring some young players through to play for Everton," said Kevin Sheedy, a pivotal member of the Blues Academy coaching staff.
"But I am really looking forward to working with Ballyoulster and helping them to continue to progress as a football club. I have heard that their facilities are first-class and I am sure we will enjoy a fruitful relationship."
The Chairman of the Irish Toffees, the biggest Everton supporters group in the Republic of Ireland, Jim Kearney, was very much involved in the organisation of Tuesday's launch.
"I'd like to than Keith, Lee and Kevin for taking the time to come over," he said. "It means a lot to us here and you can see from the turn-out just how keen we are to forge stronger links with Everton."
The three Everton guests took part in a hugely entertaining question and answer session after the dinner and the event received widespread publicity in the Irish media.
The second part of the 'Everton in Ireland' scheme will see a tie-up between the club and Celtic Horizon Tours, a Maynooth-based company that specialises in football tours.
"Our fan base in Ireland is not as strong as it used to be and we as a club take responsibility for that," admitted Keith Wyness.
"By working closely with Celtic Horizon Tours we can make Everton games more accessible to our Irish supporters and by coming over here tonight I hope we are confirming our commitment to this initiative."