THE Sports Gear Direct Shield section draw took place recently at Turner’s Cross and with the addition of five new teams, next weekend’s opening round of matches should whet the appetite for another fascinating season.
One of the five debutants, Harp Celtic, launched their new club back in mid-July at the Harp Bar on Pouladuff Road. Among those present with were CBSL committee members Peter Travers (secretary) and Finbarr Buckley (PRO).
The popular Southside establishment has a long tradition with Cork soccer and continues under the present ownership of Conor and Aine McLaughlin to cater for fans of Scottish Premiership champions Celtic.
The inspiration behind the formation of the club came about by chance during the refurbishment of the premises last year. An old photo was unearthed of the original Harp United who played in the Cork AUL at Monard in the mid-'90s.
The photo caught the interest of current bar manager Danny Kiely, who turned out himself for many clubs during a long playing career, the most notable being Everton and Rockmount.
Kiely quickly recruited the services of the hugely successful former Kilreen Celtic and Ballyphehane Celtic boss Dave O’Mahony as team manager and by appointing himself chairman, he sought membership of the CBSL with a clear ambition to gain promotion at the first attempt.
"My goal for the club might seem outrageously ambitious but getting promoted to the premier division and getting to play in a final at Turner’s Cross is where I’d like the club to be at the end of our first season. We are not here just to fill up the numbers and be mediocre."
O’Mahony is no stranger to the Business League or Shipping League as it was historically known as when he donned the colours of Youghal Carpet Yarns back in the '80s and early-'90s. Dave was then a dynamic, overlapping full-back who faced agony and ecstasy in his playing career at the former Killacloyne based company.
He suffered the pain of a broken leg before becoming an integral part of the all-conquering side who became the first time to win all four domestic trophies in the same season back in 1992/93.
At the launch he spoke of his expectations of the season ahead.
“My target for the club in our first season in the league is to reach the Cross and represent Ballyphehane in all the cup competitions we can enter.
"We have savage local support and I couldn’t believe the amount of people that came to watch us in our first friendly up in Mayfield United Park.
"We do have a very talented, youthful side, but to compliment them we’ve signed a couple of experienced heads who will guide the young lads hopefully to success along the way.
"A good sprinkling of our players are from around the area and have become friends over the years, often playing pool in the Harp Bar.
"So, it’ll be great to bring them all together on the pitch and keep them fit and healthy.. ..and out of trouble!”
Also in attendance at the launch was Jason Keegan, a decorated player, who aims to continue to add to his trophy cabinet with Celtic. Keegan previously won the Oscar Traynor Trophy competition with Cork AUL in the 2008-2009 season.
He previously won the prestigious AOH Cup on two occasions with Leeside as well as winning a Munster Junior Cup medal with the club, incidentally the last Cork club to have done so. He played in recent season with local rivals Pierce Celtic B and his experience of having played at the top level of local football will be a huge benefit to his new club.
Harp Celtic FC wish to thank the following people/sponsors for helping to get the club off the ground, Conor and Aine McLaughlin (Harp Bar), Sean MacArdle (MacArdle’s Bar, Monaghan), Shane Knott (Teamwearworld) and O’Sullivan’s Life Pharmacy, Ballyphehane.
Group A: OBS, Doolan’s Cow, Abtran Dell EMC;
Group B: Co. Council, The Weigh Inn Dripsey, Healy O’Connor Solicitors, Jason O’Neill Electrical;
Group C: Satellite Taxis (holders), Telus, Janssen Cork Hospitals;
Group D: Jay Bazz, District 11, Martin Harvey Solicitors, Marlboro Trust;
Group E: Harp Celtic, UCC United, SCS Crookstown United