FAIR Cup first round preview
By Dave Donnelly
There will be more at stake on Friday night when Oliver Bond Celtic host intermediate giants Killester Donnycarney in the first game of the 2021 FAI Cup.
Not only is it the south inner city side’s first-ever appearance in Ireland’s premier cup competition, it will be another chance to highlight a cause close to everybody in the club’s heart.
Over the past two weeks, Oliver Bond have helped to raise more than €50,000 in aid of former player Stephen Burke.
Stephen was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, and will have to travel to Spain as the treatment is not available in Ireland.
Manager Eddie Keogh knows Stephen well and gets emotional as he discusses the 26-year-old, who will undergo a third operation in Dublin this month before travelling for treatment.
“He’s a lovely youngfella – he played with us a couple of years ago and went into DJing, and he does all our end-of-year gigs. He was never in trouble,” Keogh told the Dublin Gazette.
“Without treatment abroad he has a 25% chance of living to the end of the year. We decided to switch the fundraiser from help the youths to helping Stephen. We’ve met the target but we have to get more money. Conor McGregor gave €25,000 there last week.
“We want him getting the best of treatment – the 50 grand was to get him over and that but it’s looking likely he’ll need more treatment.
“I know everybody says it about Oliver Bond being salt of the earth, but he really is a nice youngfella. I get emotional every time I talk about him.”
Keogh founded Oliver Bond Celtic five years ago to provide a positive sporting influence in an estate that is usually only mentioned in a negative light in the media.
An unauthorised rave in the flats at the height of lockdown, organised by people from outside the area, brought the wrong sort of attention to the area.
Keogh prefers to focus on the positives, however, and he used the lockdown to set up a kids’ academy for boys and girls with almost 150 players and four teams.
“We’re giving them an opportunity. There’s a lot of negativity going around Oliver Bond through the media, but we’re giving the kids of the area an option, and it’s working.
“I don’t think Oliver Bond has been like this in a long time. The buzz around the area, with the football team, I haven’t seen it like this in a long. Kids walking around with footballs in their hands.
“We tried to get across that whoever done that wasn’t from the area, but everyone was quick to jump on the negative side of it.
“I invited people down to look at the positive side of it, what we’re trying to do and what we’re building here.
“Out of a bad situation, something good has come because it led us to get joint management of the pitch – there hasn’t been one antisocial incident since.”
The visit of Killester will be another step up for a side who unexpectedly reached the semi-finals of the FAI Junior Cup last year – and Keogh insists the pressure is all on their opponents.
“There’s no pressure on the boys at all. Everybody’s going to expect Killester to win – they’re a top, top team and they’ll get the respect they deserve.
“The lads are buzzing and the pressure is on them to beat us. It’s a win-win situation. If we win, that’s my team talk sorted for the year. If we lose, we’re going into the league with a top game.
“My boys, on their day, can mix it with anyone. We’ve shown when our backs are up against the wall – when we’re the underdogs, we kind of show up.”
Caption: The Oliver Bond Celtic side that will face Killester Donnycarney in the FAI Cup first round this weekend