Castleknock’s Italian job

by Gazette Reporter
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CASTLEKNOCK Celtic’s Under-10’s excelled in Piacenza, Italy – 70 kilometres south-east of Milan – when they took on the Sandro Pietra Tournament.
Castleknock Celtic’s participation was part of their twinning with Piacenza’s local club, Spes Borgotrebbia. They were fortunate that their arrival coincided with the centennial Giro d’Italia, one of cycling’s three grand tours alongside the Tour de France and Vuelta in Spain.
Indeed, that giant spectacle blew the Celtic team and parents away with the colourful peloton and the amazing speed of the bikes.
The Celtic team struck up a warm relationship with their Spes Borgotrebbia hosts who treated them and the Celtic travelling party royally.
The team was up bright and early on Saturday and headed to the San Nicole venue. Celtic’s first opponents were Borgonovese. It was the home team who struck first and they took the lead after the break. However, captain Yousaf Shah equalised for Celtic when he shot spectacularly from the edge of the box, ending the tie in a deserved draw.
Celtic were well warmed up by now and their second game against Royale Fiore saw the visitors turn on the style. They ran out winners with goals from Luke Simmonds, Daire Glennane, Cristian Larini and captain Alex Murgatroyd.
Celtic’s Michael Mahon, Cillian Murray and Brion McGrath were solid in defence, cheered on by their enthusiastic travelling supporters and the local support, including Spes’s Under-11 team.
The final day saw Celtic taking on Baby Brazil who were among the favourites after a strong performance against Royale. Celtic went ahead with goals from Simmonds and Glennane.
The opponents fought hard to gain a foothold but it was Celtic who secured the win when Murgatroyd and Larini found the net.
Going into the final game, Celtic had to face the tournament favourites Sarmatese. It was a very tight affair with Simmonds and Brion McGrath going close.
It was, however, in the final minute before the break that a piece of brilliance from Simmonds saw him reach what seemed a lost cause. He then unleashed a daring left-footed shot that gave the keeper no chance.
In the second half, Sarmatese upped their game, and were only denied by commanding defensive performances from Michael Mahon, Murgatroyd and Shah.
Celtic were fortunate that Larini was unbeatable in goal.
Then, in the dying minutes, Simmonds was on target, which was quickly followed by a screamer from Murray which ensured Celtic were the Sandro Pietra tournament champions.
Celtic had won the trophy but also the hearts of the local spectators who had supported the Irish visitors throughout.

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