FAI Youth Cup Final
Killarney Celtic v Douglas Hall
Sunday at 2pm
Mounthawk Park, Tralee
Killarney Celtic’s exploits in this season’s FAI Youth Cup are already the stuff of club legend but this talented group of youngsters are not quite finished yet.
Over the course of an elongated campaign, they have achieved some incredible results against top class opposition. Now it’s time to take that extra step and secure this prestigious national title for the first time in the club’s history.
If their games to date are anything to go by, we could be set for a spectacular finale.
It takes a special kind of team to make it all the way to an All-Ireland final. Talent is important, of course, but equally important is the right attitude and the will to win. In Round 1, Celtic showed that they have all of these qualities in abundance.
Half-way through their opening round match against Killorglin in October of 2019, The Hoops were on the ropes. In fact, it was far worse than that. They were on the canvas and on the brink of being counted out. A disastrous opening 45 minutes saw the reigning league and cup champions trailing by four goals to nil and it looked for all the world as though their FAI adventure was about to be over before it had even started.
With the words of mentors Matt Keane, Jerry Falvey and Conor McCarthy ringing in their ears, they managed to pull themselves back up to their feet, and then came the fightback. A brace apiece by skipper Terry Sparling and attacking midfielder Dylan Callaghan sent the match to extra time, and centre midfielder Evan Looney popped up with the all-important winner to complete an unbelievable turnaround.
The victory set up a derby versus Killarney Athletic in Round 2 and when Callaghan (two) and Pádraic Looney gave them a 3-0 lead, Athletic seemed to be defeated. The Blues responded well, however, and they staged a comeback of their own to send the match to overtime. Once again it was a midfielder who came up with the goods for Celtic in ET as James Darmody netted to send his side into the third round.
A trip to Galway to play Bearna/Na Forbacha followed with a place in the last 16 at stake. Despite conceding an early goal to their hosts, Celtic ran out 6-1 winners with Sparling (two), Pádraic Looney, Jason Kerins, Callaghan and Darmody all finding the target. Now the bus was really rolling.
This result led to a home tie against Waterford’s Villa FC in mid-February. In front a sizeable home crowd (remember those?), Killarney Celtic put in a very dominant performance. Callaghan, Darmody and Jackson O’Mahony were the goalscorers as The Celts won 3-1 to make it through to the last eight.
Park United from Mitchelstown were the next team to get the Celtic treatment and strikes by Sparling and wide man Ruairí Doyle sent the Cork men home empty-handed.
Galway giants Mervue rolled into town for the semi-final a fortnight ago and the old seanfhocal ‘tús maith leath na hoibre’ rang true for the hosts as early goals by Evan Looney and Emmet Cronin set them up for an impressive 2-1 win.
Only one Kerry team (Tralee Dynamos in 1998) have won the FAI Youth Cup in its 85-year history. Celtic came mightily close in 2011 when they made it all the way to the final before succumbing to Cork City.
For this current crop of Celtic youngsters, Douglas Hall of Cork stand between them and immortality.
This match is ticket only and will be streamed live on the Full Time Productions Facebook page.