Celtic ladies look to make national breakthrough

Key player: Castlebar Celtic’s Sarah Rowe will be looking to follow up getting picked in the Women’s National League team of the year with a League Cup winners medal this Sunday.

Key player: Castlebar Celtic’s Sarah Rowe will be looking to follow up getting picked in the Women’s National League team of the year with a League Cup winners medal this Sunday.

Sunday is going to be an emotional day for the Castlebar Celtic women’s senior side when they face off against Peamount United in the final of the Bus Éireann Women’s National League Cup in Milebush Park. Along with dealing with the nerves of the biggest day that a lot of these players will have played in, they will also be keeping the memory of their late coach Jeremy Dee very firmly in their minds. At 2pm on Sunday a tree laying ceremony will be held at Milebush Park in memory of the late Jeremy Dee, who worked at Milebush for a number of years, along with coaching the Celtic side who have reached this Sunday’s final.

Getting back to the football, it’s going to be a historic day for the Castlebar Celtic as a club as it will be the first time the club has reached the final of a senior national competition. Going hand in hand with the success of their male youths side who reached the FAI Youth Cup Final recently, it shows that the work being put in all across the club is paying off. To get to the final of the cup, Celtic have already overcome Cork Women’s FC 2-1 away in the quarter-final back in February and in the semi-final they saw off league champions Raheny United 3-1 in Celtic Park on the May Bank Holiday Monday just gone.

Peamount United will come into the game having finished second in the league, just one point behind Raheny United in the final standings. Celtic finished the league campaign in fourth place in the table on 22 points, with seven wins and a draw from their 18 games. The sides have both met each other three times already this season in the league with the Dubliners winning all three games. They saw off Celtic 2-0 in Celtic Park in September last year in round two of the league. They then met twice in 18 days with Peamount winning 8-1 in Dublin and 5-3 in Castlebar.

Celtic manager Johnny Morris-Burke is looking forward to the challenge of making sure that Celtic get at least one victory against Peamount this season on Sunday. “I can see no reason why we can’t get a win on Sunday. It’s a one off game, 11 v 11 and we’ll be going for it and giving it all we can.” Looking back at the previous meetings between the sides this season, Johnny says they were all close games really. “We were beaten 8-1 in one of the games and on paper it looks like we were played right off the park. But in reality we were caught with a couple of sucker goals in the first half and we didn’t take our own chances. We could have gone in at half time leading 4-1 not trailing 4-1 if we’d taken our chances. The other games were close meetings and we know we can beat them.”

Celtic will have to be on top of their game if they are to win though, says Morris-Burke, “They were last year’s league champions, they have a wealth of experience playing in Europe last season and they have lots of international players. In the women’s game you’ve got to take your chances when they come, because the other side will and we’ll be very conscious of that on Sunday.”

Sunday will offer the girls the chance to pay fitting tribute to the memory of Jeremy Dee and it’s what they plan to do, according to Morris-Burke. “It’s been a tragic and turbulent year for all the girls and what more fitting way is there for them to remember Jeremy than going out and giving it a right good go in the final on Sunday and that’s what they will do. He was the driving force behind getting a women’s national league side here in Castlebar and it’s been embraced by all in the club. It represents the whole province not just Castlebar or Mayo as we’ve girls from Sligo and Galway playing with us. He wanted to see it happen here and he did, so we’ll go out and give our all on Sunday for him.”

Morris-Burke’s team has plenty of quality throughout with both Sarah Rowe and Emma Hansberry both making an impact at international level with various Irish underage squads, while Katie Walsh Shunagh Jackson, Jenny Byrne, Emma Mullin and Rachel King are all quality players who will be more than capable of imposing themselves in the game. Celtic have a few knocks, but Morris-Burke expects them to clear up by Sunday. “We’ve had a few knocks going into the game, but I expect everyone to be ready for action come Sunday. No-one wants to miss out on a national final.” Kick-off on Sunday is at 3pm in Milebush Park.

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