Castlebar Celtic were the odd side in seven last weekend when the Bus Eireann Women’s National League kicked off for its second ever season. Celtic, who were one of the original six sides in the league last year, had to watch from the wings as their opponents in this years league got the first round under way. On Sunday they will get back to action with a bang when the defending champions Peamount United make their way to Celtic Park for a 2pm kick off. The Dublin side have established as the marquee side in the country over the past few years and also have a lot of experience in UEFA competitions.
Celtic’s assistant manager Jeremy Dee is looking forward to the challenge which he knows will not be easy. “Ah we want to get the easy game out of the way first really. It is going to be a tough year, you can’t look at it any other way. But we are all looking forward to it and ready to go. The difference between us and the likes of Peamount United is that they would have a lot of senior internationals where we have a lot of under age internationals in our team.”
Celtic have once again put their faith in youth and have expanded their squad with a number of new young players coming in. “We’ve expanded our squad this year, because we have to and brought in quality young players such as Sara McGeogh, Stacey Muldoon and Shanua Fox who are all Irish u17 internationals. We’ve a young side, so we’ll be looking to the likes of Katie Walsh, Emma Mullen and Rachel King to lead us on and off the field, but that’s something they will be more than capable of doing.”
Last year Celtic got off to a great start in the league, but a number of injuries mounted up early and knocked them out of their stride as Dee explained.
Looking to get off to a good start and move on from there
“We got off to a flying start last year, in our first three games. But it kind of fell apart a bit when we lost five of our starters through injury early on, and then we ended up having to bring younger players into the team quicker than we had expected or hoped. But this year we are confident that with the years experience everyone will be ready for it.”
Being the only side in the league in Connacht has opened the door for Celtic in terms of player recruitment from the province but it is also a hindrance when it comes to the logistics said Dee. “It’s a big commitment, we’re by far the side that is most affected by geography, our away games will be mostly in Dublin and then it’s either Wexford or Cork. It’s a serious commitment that all the players and their families have given, when you think about the age profile of a lot of our players. It’s twice a week training and a game each week and we’ve players coming from all over Mayo and Connacht in general.”
But at the end of the day, it is all about improving the game here and Celtic are ready to do that said the assistant manager. “We’re looking forward to it and it’s going to be another good year of football, that can only bring on the women’s game in the town.”