Castlebar Celtic goalkeeper Stefan Hester deflected questions from our intrepid reporter with ease. PHOTO: MICHAEL DONNELLY

Castlebar Celtic ace Hester makes a strong case for the defence

AHEAD of Sunday's Connacht Junior Cup final between Castlebar Celtic and Athenry, Connaught Telegraph reporter Caoimhín Rowland caught up with Hoops goalkeeper Stefan Hester for some quick-fire questions.

The Celtic stopper deflected them all with ease and cut a relaxed figure ahead of Sunday's showdown at Solar 21 Park, Milebush, Castlebar.

Read on for a revealing interview with the man who forms Celtic's last line of defence.

Caoimhín Rowland (CR): What’s the competition for places like within the team?

Stefan Hester (SH): It's unbelievable. Of course. Like we've unbelievable squad depth. It's outrageous. Me and James Robinson are pushing each other the whole way.

Now since he's been in, we've been pushing each other and fighting for that number one spot and everything. And obviously, it's unbelievable that Stevie has my back that way as well. So it's nice to see.

CR: You were called up for the Mayo Under 21 development squad. I was surprised to hear you were a teenager.

SH: I'm 20 now this October. So still a young gun, ha ha! But, yeah, that's unbelievable to see. You know, it's savage that they have that coming through as well for the elite players in the Mayo League, to play against top players so it's great to see and it's a good thing to be called up to and hopefully be a part of it.

CR: You’ll be up against top League of Ireland clubs, potentially catching the eye of a few scouts at some point.

SH: It's always in the back of the mind obviously, but Celtic comes first and foremost, so obviously I'm going to keep my head straight as much as I can and not think about it as much, but if a call comes?

CR: Is this your first time playing Athenry FC?

SH: I actually haven't come across them before. No, it's going to be the very first time I play Athenry and obviously, we've looked at them a bit like they look like a big, physical side. Hopefully we can get the job done on the day and everything. So we'll definitely be up for it anyways. There's no way we couldn't be.

CR: What are your thoughts on the game being played in Milebush?

SH: Oh, it's unbelievable that we have it down in Milebush, because we're just a stone's throw away from it like and as you said most of the lads there on the team.

We've been playing there throughout our whole life now. So we know the pitch facilities very well and everything and especially that would have. Hopefully, now we can get as much support out as we can and get as many people down as we can to help cheer us on a bit as well.

CR: What would it mean to win the cup for Castlebar Celtic, in your own backyard?

SH: I know that we'll definitely get the support that we need. I know that for a fact. There hasn't been much joy except for the last time really. It's been what, 20 years since Celtic have won the cup at least. So obviously everyone is going to be out in full force for this now it is going to be unbelievable.

It'll be unbelievable for the club like it's been ages since Celtic had their last win in the Connacht Cup and there's a special aura around the squad and everything.

So we obviously have our sights on the league as well but with the Connacht Cup coming up now as well we want to try and win as much as we can. Being part of the team that wins the 10th one to be the most prestigious club would be unbelievable.

CR: And if the international calls ever came knocking, Kazakhstan or Ireland?

SH: I have to choose Ireland on that one, yeah!