A group from Castlebar Celtic, with their awards, pictured with public representatives, Mayo Football League and FAI officials at the Mayo Football League presentation dinner in Castlecourt Hotel, Westport. PHOTO: MICHAEL DONNELLY

Mayo centurions dominate local football league's annual awards ceremony

by Caoimhín Rowland

CASTLEBAR Celtic captain Ioseph O'Reilly was 'over the moon' at receiving the Mayo League Player of the Year award.

Despite the personal individual nature of the award, Ioseph was characteristically keen to give recognition to his beloved club at the awards ceremony in the Castlecourt Hotel, Westport.

Íoseph O'Reilly Castlebar Celtic pictured with his wife Orla after he was presented with the Footballer of the Year award. Photo by Michael Donnelly Ballyheane 087 265 4747 CASTLEBAR

Celtic were 'exceptional' last year, said Ioseph when accepting the award. He highlighted the titles won at underage level, the B team's victories and the invincible success at Super League level in 2023, leaving them named club of the year at the Mayo League awards night – a huge boost to begin a year of centenary celebrations.

Six Celtic players have won the individual gong in the past, most recently Jordan Loftus in 2019. No one in the county could begrudge the centre-half’s win after 16 years playing senior football and a constant at the heart of defence.

Such was Celtic’s phenomenal strength in depth last year that the guts of the starting 11 could change depending on availability, but O’Reilly remained all through.

Hoisting the Super League title aloft would normally be a footballer's year highlight, but he somehow found time to get married in December as well!

Celtic will begin their title defence at the end of February, and Ioseph will be there again urging his team-mates on, but in the confident knowledge that the Hoops will be in a far better place for years to come.

O’Reilly admitted: “I know whenever I retire I’ll leave a strong team behind.” That's a ringing endorsement of the frightening talent primed to make their senior debuts under Stevie Gavin next season.

Stevie Gavin Castlebar Celtic is presented with the Team manager of the Year Aaward by Paul Cooke, president of the FAI. Photo by Michael Donnelly Ballyheane 087 265 4747 CASTLEBAR

In truth, Celtic stole the awards in Westport, winning the club of the year award in addition to individual trophies for Ioseph and manager Stevie Gavin, while they had near domination on the team of the year.

The Centurions celebrated their victory in style as a raucous crowd expected success and the night duly delivered.

A cup victory in 2024 would pair superbly with the retention of the Super League title this year, and the conveyor belt of talent will continue into the next season, with plenty of Under 21 and B team players dying to get senior minutes.

MC Angelina Nugent chatting with Christy Rowland Glenhest Rovers after he was presented with Mayo League 2023 "The Hall of Fame" award. Photo by Michael Donnelly Ballyheane 087 265 4747 CASTLEBAR

Elsewhere, Glenhest Rovers stalwart and former 'tough as teeth' full-back in his playing days, Christy Rowland, was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Saturday’s event in Westport.

A club official at Beltra for decades – lining the pitch, cutting the grass and being as described by many as 'Mr. Glenhest Rovers' – Christy said he wasn’t expecting to be recognised for his work, and that it came as a shock to him when he saw the news one morning on his phone.

He is a thoroughly deserving award winner as a true local legend of the beautiful game.