Philip O'Sullivan's Troops are Crowned Champions

Aston Village  1    Castleknock Celtic 2

AUL Div 2A League

22nd May 05

It was one of the windiest days of the season.  But at least there were fine sunny spells.  It did however reduce the game to less than a great spectacle, which we had expected given its importance to both sides.  Celtic needing the win to take the title, while Village were chasing the runners-up spot.

Celtic showed their hunger from the off.  Against a strong breeze, they had an early opportunity.  After a couple of minutes, Deco Cunningham showed his strength before putting the ball in the back of the net, but was adjudged to have fouled.  Celtic dominated the first half and Neil McAdam was unlucky when his surging run from mid-field ended with him shooting at the keeper.  There were other efforts cleared off the line, but Village remained on terms.

The strong wind favoured Celtic in the second half.  They pressed hard and on 48 minutes, Billy Dunne hit the crossbar (see photo as he puts his hands to his head in disbelief), but the ball dropped kindly for Deco Cunningham who nudged it home.  But the lead was short lived.  A defensive lapse on the left let Village into an attack, which led to a free kick on the edge of the Celtic box.  The free kick was too powerful for keeper Mick Flood to hold.  1-1.

Celtic were indeed rocked by the quick Village response.  But they raised their game again, and after 70 minutes, a corner led to Alan O'Grady getting possession on the right hand side of the box. He got it under control, and rifled home from close range, beating the keeper at the near post.  The joy was unbounded, as the Celtic team to a man celebrated.  They sensed they had done enough.  After the heartbreak of two lost Cup Finals, it was sweet sweet compensation to take the prize all teams want to win, the League Title.

We had worried that the celebrations on the night before would have undermined Celtic's effort, but there was not much evidence of any fatigue.  They were indeed fired up, and their rallying cry as they came out for the second half indicated that they were ready to give one final push.  And indeed they did.  Full credit to each of them.  They all played their part today. Even those on the line who were honestly kicking every ball with their team. None more than Shane Hennessy, who had to sit it out on the line after receiving 8 stitches in his forehead after clashing heads in the match on Thursday night.  This success was a team effort, make no mistake about it.  Philip O'Sullivan and Steve Lawlor shuffled their pack throughout the season to successful effect. Today, we saw the introduction of Ayoob and Graham Ennis, who were effective when brought on for Paul O'Donoghue and Neil McAdam, who had given their all. Neil Sherwin was very solid at right full.  Billy Dunne and Snowey Battigan were rocks in the central defender positions, although Billy gave his manager a fright or two when showing his ball skills in tricky positions.  Richie Flanagan showed why he was picked the manager's player of the year.  Alan O'Grady was as ever influential, along side the industrious Bando Thompson. Podge O'Donoghue displayed his skills with his cultured left foot, putting one free kick just wide from long range. Marto Fleming and Neil McAdam were always a threat, and finally, multiple-prize winner, including Golden Boot award, Deco Cunningham was once again on the score sheet and a thorn in yet another defence.

Congrats to all, and we are proud of your achievements.

Tribute to Philip O'Sullivan, Team Manager

Finally, and most importantly, we want to say a fond farewell to Phil O'Sullivan, who has decided to take up a coaching opportunity in Scotland, where his lovely girl friend hails from.  We genuinely appreciate the huge effort and contribution he has made to our club.  He has been with us since his young schoolboy days, and Jim Geraghty remembers his skills on the wing, which he recounted at the Friday night's celebrations.  He has always been selfless, ready to help out other team managers with team difficulties. On top of managing the team that threatened to break Brian Cummins record of the double in 1996, he rescued a team from disbandment, when they were out of control.  He also took over managing the U-15s when his friend John O'Reilly emigrated. We can only stand back and admire such commitment.  But alas, we are losing it, and that will not be easy to replace.  Nevertheless, we wish him a sincere bon voyage and every success in his new career, and let Phil be assured that there will always be a place for him at Castleknock Celtic.  Frances and Jimmy can be rightly proud.