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‘It’s now or never’ – Killarney Celtic boss with rallying cry ahead of crunch FAI tie

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FAI Junior Cup: Quarter-Final
Killarney Celtic v Fairview Rangers
Saturday at 5pm
Celtic Park

 

Ahead of Saturday’s huge quarter-final clash with Fairview of Limerick, Celtic manager Brian Spillane has called on his senior players to seize what could well be their final opportunity to win the coveted FAI Junior Cup.

The Celts have been knocking on the door for a number of years now but they have been unable to secure the holy grail, coming closest in 2017 when they reached the semi-final before being cruelly knocked out by Sheriff YC on penalties.

With a number of key players possibly heading towards retirement, Spillane believes that it’s do or die for his talented bunch of footballers.

“I reckon the likes of Smiley (John McDonagh), Gary Keane and Stevie Mahony will probably finish after this year so for those players, and even for players who might have a few years to go, it’s now or never for them if they want to win a national title or to win something outside of Kerry,” Spillane told the Killarney Advertiser. “I think they realise that too.

“With all that’s going on with COVID, fellas realise the importance of the game and they’re just happy to have a crack at it. They’re at home in the quarters, they’ve been training well and there’s no pressure on them really because a lot of people fancy Fairview. If they do manage to win then they’re at home in the semi-finals (versus Athenry or Rush) so they have two home games to get to an All-Ireland final.

“You couldn’t ask for much more than that.”

The season should, of course, be finished with by now but the completion of Ireland’s showpiece junior soccer competition was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Celtic’s manager is glad to be back in the swing of things and he says he is hopeful that the time off has served his squad well.

“We stuck to the guidelines but once we got any kind of green light at all we went at it,” he said. “We went up in groups of four, and then team training when we were allowed. We have 12 sessions and two games under our belt so we’re as ready now as we’ll ever be. The squad is fully fit. Wayne Sparling was struggling for a few weeks but he’s back now. Everyone’s in good shape and the competition for places is great.

“I think the break actually did us good because we had played a lot of games. Hopefully the time off will favour us; the lads seem fresh and ready to go.”

FAIRVIEW

Last weekend, Celtic defeated Killorglin 5-2 in the Greyhound Bar KO Cup with a slightly weakened side as Wayne Sparling, Adam O’Rourke, Stephen McCarthy and Lee Downing were all rested. All four are expected to return to the starting lineup for the match against Fairview, a strong side who are likely to provide the hosts with their toughest test of the season to date.

“Fairview will be a huge challenge,” Spillane admitted. “I think they’re probably the best team left in the competition. They have five fellas coming back from League of Ireland so their squad is very strong. I went up to watch them twice before the lockdown and they looked very solid. They play very direct, like a League of Ireland team, and they have a lot of quality. They don’t score a lot but they don’t concede anything either.

“With these cup games, it’s the team that makes the least amount of mistakes that will win. A lot of these games are decided on set pieces. Fairview have a similar shape to ourselves so it’ll be about winning our own battles.”

Another challenge that the club are facing is the tricky business of allocating tickets for the big match. Only 200 people (including players, management and match officials) will be allowed to enter the grounds on Saturday evening, which means a lot of local supporters will be left out in the cold.

“It’s very tough to be honest,” Spillane said. “You have players, management, media, referees and referees assessors, so then we’re left with 100 or 110 tickets. We decided to give Fairview 25% of that, and they’re allocating their percentage between committee and sub-committee members. That means they won’t have any supporters at the game.

“We’ll have 75-85 supporters and we said we’d give the tickets to the people who went to our away matches up in Buncranna and Crettyard. Even when we get knocked out of these competitions, these are the people who’ll be at the next league game.”

The game will also be streamed live on the club’s Facebook page for those who are unable to attend.

HUGE

There’s no denying that the national and provincial tournaments have been at the top of Celtic’s agenda in recent times and the Celtic boss believes that the significance of reaching another FAI Junior Cup semi-final cannot be understated.

“It’d be huge for the club. I think players need to be tested and I don’t think they’re tested in the Kerry District League. The minute I went into management I wanted to make a beeline for the Munster Junior Cup and the FAI Junior Cup. In Kerry, you’re asking fellas to train two or three times a week and you’ve no fixture list. There’s no structure. It’s very hard to turn around and tell players that they might have no game for three weeks… It’s hard to motivate them.

“With the FAI and the Munster competitions, the dates are fixed so it’s easier to make plans and have that structure. They know when they’re playing and that’s what the players are calling out for.”

And in fairness to them, Celtic’s players have thrived at this level. All that’s left for them now is to make that extra step, starting with Fairview tomorrow evening. Spillane thinks that his lads are good to go.

“We have a fully fit squad, we’re ready and we’ve had a good bit of experience through the last few years. We’re looking forward to it big time.”

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Killarney co-drivers to the fore at this weekend

Two Killarney-based co-drivers will contest this weekend’s Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, the fourth rounds of the British Rally Championship. The two-day event gets underway tonight (Friday) with one stage set to be run under the cover of darkness. On the startline will be Muckross man Noel O’Sullivan and Aghadoe’s Mikie Galvin. O’Sullivan, co-driver to Welshman Osian […]

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Two Killarney-based co-drivers will contest this weekend’s Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, the fourth rounds of the British Rally Championship.

The two-day event gets underway tonight (Friday) with one stage set to be run under the cover of darkness.
On the startline will be Muckross man Noel O’Sullivan and Aghadoe’s Mikie Galvin.

O’Sullivan, co-driver to Welshman Osian Pryce, is the current leader of the series while Galvin, who reads pacenotes for fellow Killarney and District Motor Club member, West Cork’s Keith Cronin, is eighth after missing the opening round.

“The element of darkness certainly brings an additional challenge to all the crews, especially since most of us will not have done any night stages for some time, the most recent I did was in 2017 on the Ulster Rally,” Cronin noted.

The route layout reads like an extract from the itinerary of the World Championship counting RAC Rally of the 1980s, featuring familiar locations such as Dalby, Gale Rigg and Langdale, and it will be the Dalby Forest test that opens the competition shortly after 8pm tonight.

Meanwhile, Irish rallying returned last Sunday after the pandemic-enforced lay-off with the ‘Munster Car Club’s Cork 20’.

London-based Listry co-driver Shane Buckley was the best of the local entrants, guiding Daniel Cronin, Keith’s brother, to fifth overall.

Ger Conway and his driver Stephen Wright were just two places and 8.9 seconds behind in another Ford Fiesta RC2. It was Conway’s first taste of a RC2 car since he and Rob Duggan finished second overall on the 2018 Donegal International Rally.

“There is a taste of more after this,” said Ger after a trouble-free day.
Damien Fleming came close to making it four local co-drivers in the top 10. He and his driver Stephen McCann were 11th, just 16.6 off the leader board. They said it took a while to get used to the bumpy Irish tar after a recent trip to the Tour of Flanders in Belgium.

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Education Minister officially opens The Mon’s new classrooms

A town primary school – which has a deep connection to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty – has a whole new look which was officially opened today (Friday) by the Minister for Education. Norma Foley TD officially opened the newly constructed wing to the Presentation Monastery Primary School on New Road which will house two special needs classrooms, a multi-sensory room […]

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A town primary school – which has a deep connection to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty – has a whole new look which was officially opened today (Friday) by the Minister for Education.

Norma Foley TD officially opened the newly constructed wing to the Presentation Monastery Primary School on New Road which will house two special needs classrooms, a multi-sensory room and a general-purpose hall.

The project, which was funded by Department of Education along with money raised by the school as part of their ‘THE MON-ster Fundraiser’, was just one of three officially opened new additions to the school along with a special dedication of the school’s hall in honour of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, a past pupil of the school from 1909-1914.

Also, The Most Rev. Ray Browne, Bishop of Kerry, officially opened a three-classroom extension at the school’s present site which was opened in 1958 having moved from its College Street location which was opened in 1838 by the Presentation Brothers.

Former Supreme Court Judge Hugh O’Flaherty and Mrs Pearl Dineen the nephew and niece of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty officiated over the dedicating of the school’s new hall to past pupil, Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, in recognition of his heroic deeds during WWII.

O’Flaherty, who also taught at the school later, became better known for the role he played in World War II while at the Vatican leading over 6,500 prisoners of war, partisans and Jews to freedom to earn him the title of the ‘Vatican Pimpernel’, leading to the 1983 film ‘The Scarlet and the Black’ with Gregory Peck portraying the role of O’Flaherty.

OUTDOOR CLASSROOM

A special outdoor classroom ‘Dotts Garden’, dedicated to the memory of Dorothy (Dott) Hennggler the 2011 Washington DC Rose who died at the family home in Baltimore from a brain tumour, was officially opened by Anne O’Shea (aunt of the late Dorothy), and Àine McMahon (cousin of the late Dorothy and BOM member). The outdoor classroom was beautifully decorated over the summer by artist Katríona Lynch.

Due to COVID restrictions, the main event took place outdoors with staff joined by a small group of pupils selected from each of the classes representing the student body along with members of the school’s Board of Management.

“Your achievements have been remarkable over the last number of months,” Minister of Education, Norma Foley, said today at the official opening.

“It is my wish going forward that the next year in education will be less complicated, less trying and less difficult one. I think school staff are deserving of that. We can put the COVID atmosphere behind us and we are moving positively along. We hope that in a few months we will talk about living in a post-COVID time. The story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty speaks of the calibre of students produced here, but it also speaks of the courage and bravery and vision that Kerry people can have in the most difficult and trying of times.”

School principal Colm Ó Suilleabháin, who is shortly moving on to St Oliver’s NS in Ballycasheen, was delighted to be in attendance to see the building come to fruition.

“It’s a fantastic culmination of hard work by the staff and the Board of Management, and we are delighted to see the school is fully equipped and resourced for the next generation of pupils from Killarney and beyond,” he said.

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