Six years on since the class of 2007 claimed the FAI Youth Cup, Castlebar Celtic will make the long trip to Turners Cross in Cork tomorrow with hopes of writing their names front and centre in the already long and imposing history of their club. Seven games on from when they saw off the challenge of Roscommon 3-0 in the first round, they have score 24 goals and conceded only five on a trip that has brought them to Galway, Tullamore, and Cork already, and back to the Rebel county tomorrow to face down Castleview with kick off at 3pm.
The latest batch of Celtic stars booked their place in the final a couple of weeks ago with 3-2 win over Castlebridge Celtic in Fermoy. The main man on the day was striker Liam Flatley who bagged all three goals for Celtic to book their place in the final. Flatley’s form over the past year has also been recognised at international level for Ireland. But this Celtic side are no one man team, with players like Gerry Hunt and Colm Nevin also making a name for themselves as they have moved through the different underage ranks with Celtic up to this side and tomorrow’s national showdown.
While Celtic have been impressive in their run to the final, they have been made to work hard in a number of games. The semi-final as was mentioned before saw them come out on the right side of a five goal battle after they went into an early 2-0 lead. In the quarter-final they were able to put three past Letterkenny Rovers at home without response, but in the previous round it was only the odd goal in three that saw them see off the challenge of Tullamore Town on the road. Ballina Town did not offer much resistance in round four, as Celtic put nine past their fellow county men. But they only made it into that round after a tough slog against Galway Hibs, where the sides finished all square at 1-1 after extra time and Celtic came out on top thanks to a 4-2 win on penalties. Rounds one and two saw them put three goals past both Roscommon and Conn Rangers respectively without response, to get their campaign off on the right foot. Whatever happens in Turners Cross tomorrow, the joint management team of Mark Togher and Mick Kilcoyne have brought this side to the very top of the game, and within touching distance of following in the footsteps of Erris United in 2004 and their fellow clubmates in 2007 in claiming the top trophy in youths’ soccer in the country.