Celtic ready for League of Ireland challenge

Castlebar Celtic’s brave step into the Newstalk FAI League of Ireland A league is ready to roll this weekend when Derry City make the trip south to Celtic Park. Last Friday night Celtic launched their campaign in the TF Royal Hotel and Theatre. Declan Kilkelly, manager of the side, praised the club’s decision to enter the competition when he was called on to speak at the launch. “This is a brave, brave, decision by the club to enter this competition. The decision was proved right by just looking at the number of lads we have got back from clubs like Galway United, Mervue United, and Sligo Rovers who are ready to do their part for the club in this exciting venture. Any players, whoever they are, want to play at the highest level they can and now we can offer our players who have come through our own underage system this chance to play League of Ireland football for Castlebar Celtic.” Kilkelly was in charge of the Celtic youth side who claimed the FAI Youth Cup in 2006, took over the club’s senior side midway through last season after the departure of former manager Gavin Dykes who had brought them to an FAI junior cup semi-final, and guided them in their first adventure in the FAI u20 league side in 2007 only to see the club excluded from the 2008 competition because they did not have an A league side. The decision of the club to throw their hat in the ring for the 2009 A league and try to emulate Mervue United which went from junior soccer in Galway to the A league in 2008, and is now a League of Ireland first division club, is a positive one for soccer in Mayo according to chairman of the Mayo League Pat Quigley who said: “I wish Celtic all the best in this challenge, it’s a great step for the club and a very positive one for soccer in Mayo in general. We have played a very small part in this in the Mayo league and we will continue to do whatever we can to help the club in this challenge. This decision offers every lad who starts off playing football with Celtic something to aim for, to play in the League of Ireland.”

Pat Duffy from the FAI was also excited by the decision by Celtic to enter the league and the long term future it offered for football in Mayo. “This is a great day for Castlebar Celtic, having been in the u20 league before they know the challenges they will face. This will be a step up in challenges for Celtic, they have a squad with an average age of 22, and it’s important people see this a work in progress that could take three to four years and it’s not just about year one. Celtic have a great crop of players and a great management team in place who will do their all to see the club succeed in this league and into the future.”

The last word on the night was left to manager Declan Kilkelly who spelled out the possibilities that lay in front of the club. “Now we are on the map, first the A league then division one, the premier, and then Europe, you’ve got to show ambition and we are doing that.”



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