Celtic striker Jordan Loftus heralds the spirit within the squad. PHOTO: Michael Donnelly

Castlebar Celtic stars look ahead to date with Maree/Oranmore


By Caoimhín Rowland

Good things come to those who wait – a slogan famously associated with Guinness and those patiently awaiting a new manager of the Republic of Ireland, but for Castlebar Celtic, the wait for another Connaught Cup final is over. The anticipation is palpable ahead of tomorrow's (Sunday) big game.

Key players Jordan Loftus and Stefen Hester know the Connaught Cup final well, having played in this fixture just over a year ago. The pain of last year’s narrow defeat to Athenry still lingers, fuelling a burning desire set things right.

“There’s a synchronicity to it, no doubt,” Loftus reflects. “But we have no time for sentimentality. We really want to go out and right the wrong from last year. That’s our motivation.”

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the storied Castlebar Celtic club. Celebrating this centenary, they aim to clinch their 10th Connacht Cup title. Last season, despite a perfect unbeaten run in the Elverys Sports Super League, provincial silverware eluded them, making this final even more significant.

Castlebar Celtic’s squad depth is impressive. “No one is a guaranteed starter. It’s probably a cliché for a player to say this, but it’s accurate for us,” Loftus remarks.

Manager Stevie Gavin expressed his early-season disappointment with the team’s inability to dominate, but recent results, such as a 9-0 thrashing of Manulla, suggest they’ve addressed those concerns and then some.

The departure of Johnnie Cocozza could have been a setback, but the return of centre-back Cathal Coyne has been pivotal.

“He’s the last piece of the jigsaw,” says Loftus.

Goalkeeper Hester appreciates Coyne’s presence, describing him as a ‘Rolls-Royce of a defender’. Coyne’s ability to launch attacks with his cross-field passes has added a new dimension to Celtic’s play.

Maree/Oranmore earned their place in the Connaught Cup final with a solid 2-0 victory over Colga. This is a historic first for the Galway men, who will look to make their mark on the big stage. However, the Hoops are determined to spoil their party.

“We know what we have to do,” says Loftus.

Celtic’s players, managers and supporters dream of securing La Decima - their 10th title. The groundwork is already laid; they are a strong, cohesive team with a winning mentality.

“We went in against Westport United 3-0 up at half-time and when you’d expect to be given a pat on the back, well I’ll only say it was the opposite,” said Loftus, now a senior figure in the squad

He speaks highly of the team’s camaraderie. “We go out for meals together, socialise all as a team. The atmosphere within the squad is something money can’t buy. It’s really like a family.”

Castlebar Celtic face Maree/Oranmore on Sunday (June 16) in Lecarrow at 2 p.m. in what promises to be a thrilling encounter, with the delay now over after an unsavoury appeal from beaten semi-finalists Salthill Devon.

Both sides are eager to make history, with Celtic aiming for a Perfect 10.