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Celtic youths on cusp of history

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FAI Youth Cup Final
Killarney Celtic v Douglas Hall
Sunday at 2pm
Mounthawk Park, Tralee

 

Killarney Celtic’s exploits in this season’s FAI Youth Cup are already the stuff of club legend but this talented group of youngsters are not quite finished yet.

Over the course of an elongated campaign, they have achieved some incredible results against top class opposition. Now it’s time to take that extra step and secure this prestigious national title for the first time in the club’s history.

If their games to date are anything to go by, we could be set for a spectacular finale.

SPECIAL

It takes a special kind of team to make it all the way to an All-Ireland final. Talent is important, of course, but equally important is the right attitude and the will to win. In Round 1, Celtic showed that they have all of these qualities in abundance.

Half-way through their opening round match against Killorglin in October of 2019, The Hoops were on the ropes. In fact, it was far worse than that. They were on the canvas and on the brink of being counted out. A disastrous opening 45 minutes saw the reigning league and cup champions trailing by four goals to nil and it looked for all the world as though their FAI adventure was about to be over before it had even started.

With the words of mentors Matt Keane, Jerry Falvey and Conor McCarthy ringing in their ears, they managed to pull themselves back up to their feet, and then came the fightback. A brace apiece by skipper Terry Sparling and attacking midfielder Dylan Callaghan sent the match to extra time, and centre midfielder Evan Looney popped up with the all-important winner to complete an unbelievable turnaround.

The victory set up a derby versus Killarney Athletic in Round 2 and when Callaghan (two) and Pádraic Looney gave them a 3-0 lead, Athletic seemed to be defeated. The Blues responded well, however, and they staged a comeback of their own to send the match to overtime. Once again it was a midfielder who came up with the goods for Celtic in ET as James Darmody netted to send his side into the third round.

A trip to Galway to play Bearna/Na Forbacha followed with a place in the last 16 at stake. Despite conceding an early goal to their hosts, Celtic ran out 6-1 winners with Sparling (two), Pádraic Looney, Jason Kerins, Callaghan and Darmody all finding the target. Now the bus was really rolling.

DOMINANT

This result led to a home tie against Waterford’s Villa FC in mid-February. In front a sizeable home crowd (remember those?), Killarney Celtic put in a very dominant performance. Callaghan, Darmody and Jackson O’Mahony were the goalscorers as The Celts won 3-1 to make it through to the last eight.

Park United from Mitchelstown were the next team to get the Celtic treatment and strikes by Sparling and wide man Ruairí Doyle sent the Cork men home empty-handed.

Galway giants Mervue rolled into town for the semi-final a fortnight ago and the old seanfhocal ‘tús maith leath na hoibre’ rang true for the hosts as early goals by Evan Looney and Emmet Cronin set them up for an impressive 2-1 win.

IMMORTALITY

Only one Kerry team (Tralee Dynamos in 1998) have won the FAI Youth Cup in its 85-year history. Celtic came mightily close in 2011 when they made it all the way to the final before succumbing to Cork City.

For this current crop of Celtic youngsters, Douglas Hall of Cork stand between them and immortality.

 

This match is ticket only and will be streamed live on the Full Time Productions Facebook page.

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Jordan’s new role with St Paul’s

By Sean Moriarty Killarney’s Paralympic hero Jordan Lee is to take on a new role with Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club. Jordan began his sporting career with the local basketball club where he created history by becoming the first amputee athlete to represent their country at international level. The High Jumper then switched […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Killarney’s Paralympic hero Jordan Lee is to take on a new role with Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club.

Jordan began his sporting career with the local basketball club where he created history by becoming the first amputee athlete to represent their country at international level.

The High Jumper then switched to track and field and qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics where he made history by becoming the first Kerry athlete to act as a flag bearer for an opening ceremony and lead an Irish team into an Olympic Stadium.

Now back home and preparing for the next Olympics in Paris, he has returned to his first love and will join the backroom staff at the local Division One basketball club ahead of their National League campaign which begins next month.

His father Jarlath Lee is head coach with St Paul’s.

“Jordan is joining us as our strength and conditioning coach,” Jarlath told the Killarney Advertiser.

INTERNATIONALS

Meanwhile, Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club National League team will have a distinctive feel to it this year after securing the services of three overseas players it for the season ahead.

The club’s biggest signing is Canadian professional Ben Miller. It was originally hoped that the former two-time Manitoba Player of the Year would play for the local side last season but the pandemic got in the way and the National League was never played. However, he did play two training games this time last year before returning to Canada until travel restrictions lifted.

“He is a good guy, very approachable and very good with the young members,” Jarlath said.

The club has also signed Bulgarian International Emilian Grudov.

The 20-year-old has already represented his home country at U16, 18 and 20 level.

“He is young, athletic and very good offensively,” added Lee.

The returning Lithuanian Dianius Varanaukus completes the club international line up for the 2020/21 season.

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Soccer coach licensed to one of the highest levels in Ireland

By Sean Moriarty A Killarney soccer coach has been praised by the FAI for her contribution to soccer in the county and on the occasion of her being granted a UEFA B Licence this week. Ramona Keogh of Mastergeeha FC has qualified for one of highest-ranking coach licences in Europe.The UEFA B Licence is a […]

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By Sean Moriarty

A Killarney soccer coach has been praised by the FAI for her contribution to soccer in the county and on the occasion of her being granted a UEFA B Licence this week.

Ramona Keogh of Mastergeeha FC has qualified for one of highest-ranking coach licences in Europe.
The UEFA B Licence is a coaching licence mandated by UEFA, the official governing body of European football. The licence is one level below the UEFA A Licence and allows holders to be head coaches of amateur clubs, youths up to age 16, and assistant coaches for professional clubs.

Ramona started her training in November 2019 and continued, when restrictions allowed, on several block weekends taking place in FAI Headquarters Dublin, Foto Island in Cork, and final assessments in NUIG in Galway.

“Ramona played a significant role in the course group, supporting the younger coaches and challenging those more experienced, ensuring that the group was dynamic, engaging, interactive and a real positive learning environment,” said the FAI’s Head of Coach Education FAI Niall O’Regan.

“Ramona has been a significant role model for not only female coaches but also males coaches in the Kerry region and has done phenomenal work in her previous club Killarney Celtic and more recently with Mastergeeha. It is so important to have such role models and the motivation Ramona has shown is infectious and many coaches will continue in the same vein.”

For Ramona, this week’s award was the culmination of months of hard work, seminars and study.

“It was really tough at the time, final assessments had been submitted, everything had then switched to Zoom and we were so eager to get it finished. Luckily enough I got to finish off a lot of the course content online and then had individual assessments with my tutor Richie Holland current Cork City Men’s Assistant Manager,” she told the Killarney Advertiser. “Then when we returned to outdoor sports in July we got our practical assessments finished with Galway Utd in NUIG.”

ASSESSMENT

The final assessment took place at Mastergeeha FC pitch – the first time ever that a UEFA coaching assessment took place in Kerry.

“I was coaching in Mastergeeha FC in Killarney pre covid and based on logistics and other coaches’ locations in Munster on my UEFA B I was delighted to coordinate a UEFA B assessment with the FAI to be held in the Mastergeeha with the help of the committee,” she added.

“Tom O’Connor FAI Coach Educator and former Interim Republic of Ireland’s Head Coach was really impressed with the setup, the standard of really good footballers and the fantastic committee that ran it so smoothly.”

It was the first time UEFA B assessments were ever held in Kerry and the facilities, committee and the Mastergeeha U16 Boys team were outstanding that day.

She received mentoring and support from some of the biggest names in Irish soccer.

“I was delighted and honoured to receive my UEFA B Diploma Licence,” she said. “Throughout the diploma I’ve had some great tutors, mentors and some great guest speakers from Robbie Keane, Vera Pauw, Stephen Rice and Ruud Dokter FAI High Performance.

“There was a great core group of us on the course from Irish Senior International Players like Katie McCabe, Megan Campbell, Louise Quinn, Niamh Fahy and I’ve made some amazing friendships with all the ladies on the course. From the start it was a group of huge experience, drive and determination was something we all had in common and it’s great to see us all complete it together.”

LOCAL HELP

She could not have done it without the help of her home club.

“On a personal note, I just want to thank Mastergeeha FC for all their help and support, with special mention to all the management committee, teams and coaches. Must give a mention to Allan Moynihan, Brendan Buckley, Paul Lenihan and Ulick O’Sullivan also. I’m really looking forward to getting back to Academy training in the next two weeks,” she added.

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