AFTER 30 years since they last played in the Premier Division, Dunbar Celtic soccer club is finally back at the level they have always worked so hard to get to.
This season they will contest in the Premier tier of the AUL alongside clubs such as City Wanderers, Coachford, Glen Celtic, Glenthorn, Grattan, St John Bosco, Temple and Village. A tough league no doubt with some quality experienced sides however the south side team are looking forward to the challenge ahead and for manager Brian Higgins, it has given his side a great boost during pre-season.
“Well the dust settles after two disrupted seasons and all of a sudden we're set to play at the top table of the AUL and personally it's very satisfying for me as manager,” said Higgins.
“It’s a great achievement for Dunbar Celtic to be mixing it with the big boys and we're all really excited at the prospect. We have a very strong first team but we're always looking to add to that and bring in experience which will be crucial for the coming season.
"The pitch in Deerpark is one of the best in the city and with Barbara O’Connell doing the coaching and Trevor Olden looking after the fitness myself and Shane Forde really can't wait to get started. Anybody interested in getting involved for the coming season don't hesitate to get in contact as we could be on the brink of something very special.”
For former Cork City underage player and current Dunbar captain, Chris Dineen started out playing AUL Division 3 with the club and is thrilled to see the progress made over a short period of time.
“I started playing with Dunbar in the third division of AUL football four years ago and to be up in the premier is a great achievement for a small club,” said Dineen. "It’s brilliant to be up in the Premier and we know the standard is high with a lot of great teams with very good individual players that of all played at high levels but I’m really looking forward to captaining Dunbar in the premier this year it’s a great honour.
Jason Forde played with me on our Cork City double-double team and he has a lot of senior games under his belt along with both his brothers Jack and Shane who are also quality players.
"Gary O’Mahony is a very good signing at the back so we have a good balance with players that have been there for a long time. They know what the club is all about while our chairman Niall O’Leary is also a key player for us so it’s a tight nicked club and it will be an interesting season I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Long-serving player Shane Forde is excited about the season ahead and the solid defender looks forward to relishing the challenge that lies ahead.
“I have been with club eight years, started in the second division won that and got promoted up to Premier A and now obviously brilliant to be playing in the Premier Division against some great teams,” said Forde.
"We have a couple of experienced lads who have played throughout the leagues and some exciting young players with great ability. Our aim is to test ourselves against the best teams around and see how far we can go.”
Treasurer of the club Jason O’Donovan says playing in the Premier is just reward especially for the long-serving players who have been there through the tough times and stuck with it.
“Some of the lads have been at the club a long time so for them, to achieve this means a lot”, said O’Donovan.
"The likes of Greg Harte and Adam Donegal have given 10 years of service with many more not far behind. To get the news they are in the Premier, it has given them an additional boost.
“We brought Brian Higgins in as our manager the last couple of years and he has really pushed the club forward. He is a very experienced manager. You can see from our results and our position in the league that we have been improving from year to year.
"He has brought in some good lads with him and this year he is getting great support from Shane Ford. Barbara O’Connell has also come in and the training she is providing is fantastic.
“Also we got Niall O’Leary as our chairman who has been fantastic. It's hard not to mention Pamela Looney also the secretary. The club owes them an awful lot of debt.
“I would like to thank our sponsors for the great support we have got the last few seasons. Paudie, with Hannah Barrett’s, and Pat, with Safety Tech Fire, have been brilliant with us. Without them, we would not be here so we are very grateful.
"Also to Coláiste Éamann Rís for their great support. The pitch is absolutely fantastic and we are delighted to be able to play there and can’t wait for the season to begin."