CASTLEKNOCK Celtic got their first ever Leinster Senior League campaign off to a winning start with a 5-2 defeat of Valeview Shankill in the LSL Major 1B at ITB Blanchardstown last weekend.
Sylviu Aghinita scored a hat-trick and Cillian Daly netted a brace as Celtic cruised past the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown side to take top position on goal difference at the end of the first round of games.
Celtic are competing in the league for the first time since they became one of eight sides to controversially jump ship from the AUL at the end of last season.
Having joined forces with Hibernian, but kept their own name, Ray Bowe’s side were assigned to the second tier of the LSL’s junior division.
Celtic arrived into the game in a confident mood following some impressive pre-season wins, but they were rocked by the concession of an early goal due to an error at the back.
Celtic’s slow start was compounded by a defensive lapse from a corner that let Valeview striker Kieran Conway in to stab the ball past the dive of Celtic goalkeeper Paddy Leonard.
The hosts gradually gained a foothold in the game and they weren’t behind for long as Conor Mullen teed up Aghinita and he rifled home from close range.
Daly gave Celtic the lead for the first time just six minutes later as he struck home from ten yards following a perfect set-up from veteran midfielder Kevin Keane, and they took that lead into the break.
Five minutes after half time, it was 3-1 to the home side as Aghinita grabbed his second goal of the game, putting the finishing touch on a wonderful team move.
John Byrne set the ball in motion as he picked the ball up in his own half and found Jamie Traynor, who in turn laid it off to Cillian Daly.
He sent an incisive pass through for Aghinita who put the icing on the cake as he shot past the Shankill keeper, Chris Mason, from eight yards.
Just before the hour mark, Celtic ended the tie as a contest and Daly was again the provider as he set up Aghinita, who slotted the ball home to wrap up his hat-trick.
Before he could take home the match ball, however, Aghinita was substituted for Niall Conron, who attempted to emulate his teammate with a shot that came within inches of making it 5-1.
Daly did notch a fifth 12 minutes from time when he headed into the far corner of the net from a super ball into the box by Sean McGarrity to complete his brace.
Shankill notched a consolation goal in the dying minutes of the game through Keith McNamee, but the match ended in a comfortable 5-2 win for the side from Blanchardstown.