WITH a growing academy, Kilreen Celtic are hoping in the near future that the kids will rise through the ranks in the club’s aim to have teams at every grade.
Currently, with over 200 members which include an academy and two junior teams, Kilreen are hoping to add 14, U16 and youth teams in the not too distant future.
Club chairman Donal Kelleher is preparing to organise celebrations for the club’s 50 years in football in January of next year, and it’s quite remarkable to think he is a founding member and still very active while been a chairman for almost 50 years.
“I was a founder of the club back in 1971 and it’s hard to believe that in a few months, we will be 50 years in football,” said Kelleher.
"I remember when we started off first in Schoolboys football I ran teams for about 10 years and I was manager, coach, chairman, secretary, treasurer and Committee for those 10 years. I also managed about six teams by myself until some of the parents got involved to help out.
"We then decided to organise a committee and things started to take shape from there.
“We have had some very successful teams in all grades of football, which created some fantastic memories over the years. There has been some great players gone through the club and equally we have had some fantastic volunteers who gave up their time very willingly and without them, we wouldn’t have survived this far.
“I have been chairman for the best part of 50 years but I hope for someone new to take over for 2021 as I think 50 years is a long time in football, doing my role but in saying that, I enjoyed every bit of it.
“I would also like to thank Nicola O’Regan our secretary who got involved through her dad John who is also a very hard worker with the club. Nicola must be the best secretary I have ever worked with and must have the toughest job in the club but she is well able and she does a fantastic job at keeping all the coaches and players on their toes.
"Our president John O’Connor, who played schoolboy’s, youths and junior football with the club, has been an unbelievable club person both on and off the pitch. I cannot thank him enough for the support he continues to give the club.
“It’s hard to believe how quickly the five decades have gone by and what’s harder to believe is how this year has turned out."
Covid has been a huge blow to everyone but it has also thought them to appreciate things that little bit more according to Kelleher.
"I would expect when we return back to playing games and supporters are allowed, that we will see a packed Ballyphehane Park, no matter what age group are playing. It will be great to see activity back on the pitch.
"It will be great for the community. The club have spent a lot of money on protective equipment to meet the proper guidelines for Covid, however, we still chose to suspend training sessions until December, where we hope, we can then get back to some normality.”
Prior to disruption, Kelleher was pleased with the progress the club had been making both on and off the pitch this season.
“The season was going good for all involved with the club. Our teams are mid-table and were making progress with every game so that was a positive. Of course, Covid stopped that flow and camaderie around the club but I have no doubt we will get back playing sooner rather than later.
"Our academy teams are strong and they play small-sided games and are enjoying the games under great coaches and that is really important for us.
“The majority of our membership comes from our academy, which provides teams from U5s to U13s who play in the Cork Schoolboys League. The underage were training up to three weeks ago and the coaches met with the parents and decided to cancel training but they are planning to be back in early December if all goes well.
"It will be nice to see some activity around the community and again we would welcome new players aged between five to 13. Also if anybody would like to get involved with coaching in our academy teams they can contact Richard O’Brien and he would gladly welcome you because our academy is growing all the time."
They have two junior teams this season who play in the Munster Senior League.
"Our first team is managed by Owen Sweeney, David Welsh and Leon Rowley. David and Owen played schoolboys with us years ago and they came to us this year and asked us if they could take a team on under the Kilreen Celtic name and we had no problem with that we always welcome ex-players and Committee members to our club.
"Leon is also coaching the hunior team and this is his first season with the club and we are delighted to have his great ideas. Our second junior team is managed by Mark Towler who also managed schoolboys teams in the last few years. Mark along with our vice-chairman Eamonn Hayes were part management of the successful U17 and U18 teams last season.
"Our treasurer Harry McGovern is also part of their management team. Harry played schoolboys and junior with the club and most of last year’s youth team play with the second junior team and all are enjoying playing together again.
It’s fair to say they are happy with how the club is going at the moment.
"I would like to thank our sponsors Cost Plus Tyres, McCarthy Meats, Spar Pearse Square, Kelleher’s Electrical and Drews. Without their support, we could not provide sport for so many kids in the community.”