Castlebar Celtic’s search for a record breaking 10th Connacht Junior Cup success takes its next step on Sunday afternoon when the Mayo club host Sligo/Leitrim side Carbury FC in the semi-final of the 2018 competition.
Celtic last reached the final in 2014 when they came out the wrong side of a penalty shootout defeat against Ballinasloe town. No Mayo side has won the competition since Westport United in 2012 with Galway sides dominating in the intervening years.
Celtic are the Mayo League’s sole representatives at the last four stage and are there virtue of a comfortable 4-1 win against Merville United in the quarter-final.
Celtic are unbeaten in the new Super League season with manager Michael McNicholas telling the Mayo Advertiser that in recent weeks the team have been focused on the league rather than their provincial exploits; “It’s been all about the Super League so far. When we won the quarter final against Merville we said that we would have a few weeks before the semi-final would be played and, as the phrase goes, we said we would park that one for the time being and concentrate totally on the Super League. Our focus can change obviously this week, we get a break from the Super League and we get to play in what is a very big game for us and for the club next Sunday.”
Celtic have won the Connacht Cup on nine occasions, tied for most successful with Galway Bohemians. McNicholas feels that history can help Celtic. “Most certainly. You’re one step away from a final. I always think that if you can get to the semi-finals of a competition then anything can happen. We’ll come here next Sunday, hopefully dust ourselves down during the week and work on a couple of things which no doubt we do need to work and we’ll be better for it next Sunday.”
Castlebar were missing a number of players for their Super League draw with Ballina Town on Sunday last but McNicholas expects they will have a near full strength squad on Sunday; “We expect Jose Sala back next week, he was away at the weekend. Stevie Gavin is also carrying a calf injury but he should be back. We’re hoping that within reason we should be up to a near full strength squad.”
Celtic host Carbury FC on Sunday at 2pm in Celtic Park.