Carl Bateman is delighted the loyal Oliver Bond Celtic support will have the kind of day out they deserve.
The lowest-ranked of the Dublin side in this year’s FAI Senior Cup have drawn high-flying League of Ireland side Derry City in the first round of the biggest cup competition in Irish football.
To make things more difficult Bond, who secured Intermediate status for the first time in their history with a Major Sunday title win this season, will have to defeat Goliath on his home patch.
However, the fact the Inner-City side have to travel to the Brandywell to face the Candystripes is a good thing according to the centre half.
While the majority of the media focus will be on the rise of Oliver Bond from a Saturday side to FAI Cup first-rounders and Intermediate first-timers within five years another thing that makes them stand out is their support.
There is a real sense of community surrounding the nonleague side and that local love translates into numbers. Bond regularly attract LOI First Divisionsize crowds to games, with hundreds of fans turning up to take in their home ties regardless of the level of opposition. They also took over Richmond Park for their recent FAI Cup semi-final with Pike Rovers, so a trip to Derry will be right up their street and the kind of occasion they deserve claims the 33-year-old.
“The Oliver Bond club is deep-rooted in the complex and the flats. There’s hundreds of flats down Oliver Bond. The kids, the mothers and fathers, all come out and support us; you can’t thank them enough, that’s all you can ask for really.
‘It’s up to us to give them the big days against Derry, against Pike and against whoever,’ says Bateman.
Bateman also points to that recent Richmond takeover as proof the amateur side will bring a crowd to Derry.
“They all came from Oliver Bond Flats! There was more of them outside, I believe.
“We were unlucky in that game – really unlucky. Fair play to Pike, they beat us.
“No matter where we go in Ireland, they’ll definetly be a couple of hundred coming with us to Derry, that’s without a shadow of a doubt,” he added.
The Dublin side, who have just brought in the Alex Ferguson of Junior football Alan Reilly in as Head Coach, have had a meteoric rise to prominence under the guidance of Eddie Keogh. Bateman has been there from the start and believes he had a front-row seat to the like of which will never be seen again.
“This time five years ago we were a Division 3A Saturday side [and] this is where it’s at now: we’re rubbing shoulders with Derry City,’ Bateman continued.
“Five years ago we were struggling to get 11 bodies out to the game, which is some achievement from the club. It’s unbelievable. You probably won’t ever see it again.”
The back-to-back FAI Junior Cup semi-finalists have earned their moment in the spotlight and Bateman claims the players and fans will enjoy the extra attention and try to make the most of the opportunity.
“It’s a great trip to get to be honest. It’s one that the club will be looking forward to.
“It will raise our profile as a club as well, playing against a good Derry side who are doing really well.
“Historically they are one of the top teams. They’ve been in the League of Ireland as long as I can remember so they’re a really big club no matter what way you look at it. No matter what way you dress it up, they’re a big side.”
Oliver Bond Celtic’s Carl Bateman at last week’s FAI Senior Cup draw