THE Cork AUL season kicks off this weekend. It will be entertaining for fans, but tough for all clubs.
After two disrupted seasons, all clubs are looking forward to getting back playing and I caught up recently with Glen Celtic.
The north side club is one of nine that will play in the Premier AUL division, a league that is expected to be a tough battle, with some great teams involved.
Coachford, Dunbar, Glenthorn, Village, Temple, Cobh Wanderers, St John Bosco, and Grattan make up the rest of the group and Glen boss, Rob Twomey, knows it will be a challenging year.
“It’s a season where so many of us are looking forward to getting back on the pitch and whether that’s because we were without football for so long, or the fact we believe it will be a very competitive season, either way we are all excited for the season to start this weekend,” says Twomey.
Glen Celtic kick off their season at home to South Coast Athletic on Saturday, in the Mossie Linane Cup, at the newly named Evelyn Long Park. The match starts at 2pm.
Twomey says that there won’t be any easy games in this year’s league.
“Every game in the Premier will be tough and in our first game, against South Coast, I expect the same.
It’s great to see the standard improve year after year and it’s great to see new competition, also, this year, which keeps the leagues interesting for everybody involved.
“We have had a great pre-season, managing to play seven friendlies, winning six of them, so the confidence is high with the lads and that’s important, heading into this weekend’s first fixture of the season.
“We’ve been back a while now, so it was important to get a few games, as it gives us, as management, an opportunity to see lads and it also gives the lads plenty of game time, ready for the season ahead.
“We expect some really tough games this season,” Twomey says. “You’ll have the usuals, such as Coachford, Glenthorn, and Village. However, we recently played the newly promoted Dunbar Celtic, who are a very good side, so it makes the league all the more interesting and we can’t wait to get started.
“The Dunbar game was an emotional fixture, following the loss of our number-one supporter, Evelyn Long, who had just passed away. A minute silence was held for her and I have no doubt she will always be present, watching over her beloved club.”
Having previously managed at Abtran FC, Twomey takes on the role at Glen Celtic this year and with a good backroom staff and a quality side, he hopes they can challenge for honours.
“This will be my first season as Glen Celtic manager and I am really looking forward to it,” Twomey says. “As a former player, I know how much the club means to the community.
“I love the passion at the club and the entire community. As we all know, sometimes, the supporters can be the 12th man and I have no doubt their support will play a huge role in how our season will go.
“Myself and the management team are looking forward to the season ahead with a great bunch of lads.
“My previous experience in coaching would have been with Abtran FC, a club I created from the start, with Kieran Fitzgerald,” Twomey says.
“We had a great few years doing that, with a very strong side, but now I’m looking forward to a new challenge and am delighted that Fitzgerald and Liam Condon are my backroom staff.
“They both share a wealth of experience and the three of us make a great team, to be honest, so we hope we can work well together and have a great season with a great bunch of lads.
“We have kept the core of the team from last year, while adding some very exciting young players,” Twomey says.
“Ivan Skillington is still at the heart of defence, Mr Glen Celtic, Patrick Long, in midfield, and John Corcoran captaining the team again, but we have a mix of great experience and local youth in the team, along with the lads that had success with Abtran.
“We have the experience in winning titles, with Pa Long, Ivan William, John Corcoran, and Brendan Long, and we have the youth coming through from the Glen. We have an exciting young team this year, who will benefit from the experience of the league, along with great talent coming over from Abtran.
“Overall, they are a well-balanced side, who, I believe, will do well, as their work ethic through pre-season has proven that.
“It’s great to have that mixture of youth and experience and I believe this team is really building and I have no doubt that, in a couple of years, they will be a massive outfit.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on all clubs and the Glen is no different.
Covid had a massive impact on sports, with people reluctant to get back involved, in case it stops again.
“We were always worried how it would affect our players and, at the beginning, people were a little reluctant about returning. However, thankfully, once we started pre-season, and once people got back on the pitch again, they realised how much they missed it and I am glad to say there is a great bond between the lads and long may it continue.”