Celtic get ready to face Olympic

Celtic get ready to face Olympic

6 December 2017

CELTIC Bhoys and Ballynahinch Olympic seconds go head-to-head tonight at Bignian Park, Kilkeel, in the second Crebisol Bobby Dalzell Cup semi-final.

The winners will meet Ballyvea, who edged out Mourne Rovers in a cracking cup encounter last Friday night, in the Boxing Day showdown at Meadowvale, Drumaness.

There is no doubt that Premier Division side Celtic will start as red hot favourites, but Olympic are a young, emerging side under Barry McGoran.

Celtic are bidding to reach the final for the first time, though they won the Harry Clarke Cup two years ago. Olympic last won the competition back in 1997 with their first team. 

Celtic are brimming with quality players from top to bottom. Manager Stephen Torney also has a full squad to select from and has experienced players all over the park. 

Nathan Curran, who won a Steel & Sons Cup medal with Kilmore in 2010, while defender Chris McDowell and striker Stephen Galbraith were in the Downpatrick FC squad beaten in their last two Border Cup final appearances.

Throw in the highly exciting Chris Mullan, who has also played at a higher level for Downpatrick, former Ardglass winger Mark Feenan, who is playing as well as ever, and goal machine Jason Dagens and you have a side that will not be found wanting in talent, guile and backbone.

Recent signing Marty Robinson, who was at Stoke City as a teenager, is now partnering former Kilmore Rec star Kerri Grant in midfield and together they can unlock any defence.

Olympic’s first job will be to prevent a supply to Galbraith, whose movement makes it difficult for defenders to pin him down and in Caolain Boyd and Dagens he has the perfect strike partners.

Torney’s big problem will be deciding on his starting XI, but I can’t see him taking a cautious route with so many attacking players at his disposal.

There is no doubt that Torney will have done his homework on Olympic and will not be underestimating them.

“I know Olympic are a good young side with plenty of talent coming through and we will not be treating them lightly,” he said.

“We will leave nothing to chance. We have our game plan ready and it’s now a matter of seeing that through.

“The 3G surface will suit both teams, but I believe that we have the necessary power up front to take care of business.

“We have plenty going forward and are adapt at keeping things tight at the back. We are ready for a battle and can’t wait to get it on.” 

Olympic have shown this season that their young players can mix it with the best. There is no doubt that Callum Dougan, Darren Lyons, James McClean, Scott McKibben and Niall McGlew all have big futures in the game.

Experience is provided by ‘keeper Stevie McConnell, Karl Lewis and Stevie McGoran and managers Barry McGoran and Marty Sloan have done all that has been asked of them.

“ There’s a great buzz about the whole club this season, especially with how well the first team have been doing, McGoran said.

“We regularly get 40-plus players at training sessions, which is something not too many clubs could say, and competition for places has played a big part in helping us get to the semi-final.

“The players have been outstanding. Martin Sloan and I couldn’t ask for anymore from the lads and  their level of commitment has been second to none. We have a good young side full of players who have come through our youth system as well as a couple of more experienced players and we seem to have found the right balance. 

“There’s no doubt in my mind that a lot of the young lads will go on to be good first team players and that should be everyone’s aim. 

“There’s no reason why they can’t do that and win trophies with the seconds along the way. It’s a great achievement to have made the semi-final but we want more. We have a chance to write ourselves into the history books and I’m sure we will give it our best shot,” he continued.

“Celtic Bhoys are a good strong side who knock the ball about well, score plenty of goals and play in a higher league than us, so they will be big favourites.

“But it’s a cup semi-final on a 3G pitch under the lights, so anything could happen and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”