Another big day for Castleknock Celtic. While their league campaign did not achieve their goal of promotion, they were still intent on ending on the winners podium in this prestigious Lummy O’Reilly Cup competition against Templeogue United who are in the Senior 1A, one division higher than Celtic’s.
Celtic had qualified in emphatic form, including a 2-1 victory over St Francis in the semi. Templeogue had to rely on a penalty shoot out against Hartstown in the semi, but they still went into the final as firm favourites. Celtic were nevertheless confident of upsetting the odds after many impressive performances in league and cup.
The venue was Westmanstown Sports Club on a dry night though there had been showers earlier in the day which left playing conditions near perfect. While there were no crowds allowed, officials from both clubs were allowed.
Early on Templeogue showed more promise and their higher division status was apparent, with a number of threatening attacks. But they suffered a blow when they lost their main strike threat in the first quarter. Celtic started to show that they are dangerous opponents, and their passing game from back to front came to the fore. They broke on the right, Chris Whelan used his body strength to hold off a challenge. He laid the ball off for Celtic’s winger Davy Costello who jinked by the Templeogue midfield before threading an incisive pass to Niall Conran whose speed enabled him to get a brilliant shot away and past the excellent diving keeper, Daire Hancock. 1-0 to Celtic.
The second half was an open affair with both sides attacking at every opportunity. The difference largely was contrasting styles, Celtic’s passing game against the more direct route of Templeogue.
It was Celtic who were to draw first blood after the break. This time it was Cillian Daly who took possession 25 yards out, he picked out Shane Dunne who was having an excellent game on the left side. The full back crossed into the box for Chris Whelan. The centre forward managed to get a head on it, and Shane who had followed his cross in rose high to head fiercely past the helpless Hancock. It capped a fine performance by Dunne who is one of the most improved players in the team this season. 2-0 to Celtic.
Templeogue were not throwing in the towel however. Not unlike Celtic’s goal, it was a good pass through that Templeogue’s captain, Sean Ward, latched onto and dinked the ball over keeper Paddy Dunne who had been in commanding form and had been hoping for a Cup final clean sheet. Templeogue had now stepped up a gear, and a header and a shot in quick succession had almost drawn them level. It was squeaky bum time at this stage on the Celtic bench, but the introduction of Cormac Suen was to prove decisive. Templeogue broke forward and amid shrieks of ‘foul’ from their supporters, Daniel Germaine swept across and launched a long ball to the left hand side. Dylan Malone found the raiding Shane Dunne, and he in turn found Cormac who blasted a sizzler past the diving Hancock. It was a fitting finish to an excellent final, and as acknowledged by the Templeogue manager after the game, the better team won in style. Full marks to the full squad of players who have shown dedication in spades, led by the loyal management trio of Ray Bowe, Jimmy Kelly and coach Antonio Mantero. They now look forward to bigger challenges next year and a push for promotion which is well within the capability of this young team. Match action in pictures