CASEMENT CELTIC recently celebrated their belated 50th anniversary at a function in the Friar Walks Tavern.
Originally scheduled for 2020, the club had to postpone the planned celebrations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Members past and present were at ‘The Tav’, to mark what is now over 50 years in football.
During those years since their
foundation in the Horseshoe Inn in February of 1970 the club has seen lots of success.
Drawing players from the streets of Ballyphehane, most of which are named in memory of the heroes of 1916, they were named after another Irish Rebel, Roger Casement.
The founding members included James Wilson who was the club’s first chairman and is still part of their committee today, with the chairman’s role now being filled by Eddie Haines.
Among the club’s first committee were Jimmy Geary, Denis Kelly, Paddy Connors and Paddy Power, while John Kirby, and Johnny Luxford were among those tasked with running the club’s first teams.
In their first season, Casement entered teams in the U13, U14, and U15 grades, and the fledgling club won its first trophy when the U13s bagged the local cup.
Two years later that team reached the final of the U15 SFAI Evans Cup, the holy grails of schoolboys soccer, but they lost 3-2 in extra-time to famed underage club Home Farm in a game that was reported in the Irish Press newspaper as ‘Whitehall Robbery’ after the Dublin side forced the game into extra-time with a late, late equaliser.
The side included the great Tommy O’Brien, Richie Kenny, who scored four goals in the semi-final win over Jonesboro, James Callaghan, and Pat Speight.
The year previous, the club’s junior section was founded, again at a meeting in the Horseshoe Inn with a committee of Jerry Hurley, Con O’Brien, Mick Kavanagh, Richie Smithers, John Coleman, and Peadar O’Leary, a current member of the Munster Senior League management committee.
A notable addition to the club that year was Tony Fitzgerald, who captained the team and went on to play a major role in the game locally and nationally with 0he Cork AUL, the MFA, and was President of the FAI.
Casement continued to grow in strength and in numbers the 1970s as their underage players developed with two youth teams competing by 1974.
In 1975 the club’s youth team won the Munster Youths Cup, beating Limerick side Hyde Rangers in Priory Rangers Park with a team which included seven members of the side that lost to Home Farm three years earlier.
Casement won their first junior trophy in 1978 landing the prestigious AOH Cup at the expense of Mallow with a Noel Rea wonder goal in the final at the Mardyke.
In 1980 they were Premier League champions, beating Tipperary outfit St Michaels 3-0 in the concluding game at Turner’s Cross.
Casement retained their premier title the following season and the club was entering its golden era as their underage team dominated schoolboys’ soccer in the eighties which included another National Cup run in the U12 Goodson Cup in 1988 when they reached the final only to be undone again by Home Farm; a year later the club won a total of 19 trophies.
In 1982 Casement were chasing a third premier league success on the trot and they were on the verge of emulating their youths class of 1975 on the provincial front, but they came up short in both, losing the Munster Junior Cup to Ballynanty.
At that stage the club had two junior teams and as fate would have it the following year both sides met in the in the Cork Area final of the FAI Junior Cup., with Casement Celtic beating Casement United 2-0.
Having enjoyed tremendous success at schoolboys, youth, and junior level in their first 15 years, Casement made the move to the Munster Senior League in 1986 where they won the first division title with their first attempt.
They would go on to claim further success in senior cup competitions while in 1991 their junior side, still in the AUL, enjoyed St Michael’s Cup success with a 2-1 win over Dunbar Celtic in the final.
That was also the year, their 21st in football, when the club made the bold decision to acquire their own grounds on the Carrigrohane Road having previously played all their football in Ballyphehane Park.
No longer in Ballyphehane Park, the club now has two pitches at their Carrigrohane base, having been given a 99-year lease by Cork Corporation.
They recently received a capital sports grant to develop those grounds.
The first pitch was opened in November 1992 and the first game was a Munster Senior Cup second-round game in which Casement beat Greenmount Celtic 5-1, the highlight of which was a four-goal haul from Willie O’Keeffe with Pat O’Keeffe getting the other goal; Eddie Cotter scored for Greenmount.
On the pitch they endured a lull in the last decade or so, with their first team dropping out of the senior grade for a spell and they no longer have teams in the schoolboys league.
They returned to the senior grade and won the second division title in 2014 when they beat Ballincollig in a play-off game, and they were runners-up to Carrigaline in the 2018 Pop Keller Cup final with team managed by Darren Haines.
Haines steered the senior team to this year’s semi-final of that competition where they lost to eventual winners Mayfield United.
The club is very much a family affair with Darren’s dad Eddie, the chairman, while his uncle Jim and brother Ross are on the committee. The family connections continue with former player and manager Pat Mulcahy, who is joined on the committee by Leona Mulcahy, Pat Mulcahy, and Melanie Mulcahy, with Mick Dellea, Martin Hurley also on the committee, while James Wilson remains as treasurer.
Indeed, a special presentation was made to the Wilson at the Friar’s Walk Tavern by Heineken Ireland’s Jonathan Barry, a former player with the club.
This season, the junior team has won promotion to the Junior Second Division and, depending on last weekend’s results, could go up as champions. At the very least they will have a play-off game if second-placed Carrigtwohill United won their final league game which had yet to be played at the time of writing.