Celebration of soccer

by Stephen Findlater

DESPITE the elements, Swords Celtic enjoyed a superb turnout on bank holiday Monday for the third annual Michael Toft Trophy in Balheary as Shelboure took the laurels on the pitch.

The event was inaugurated to honour the memory of club member Michael Toft who died suddenly of natural causes. Celtic introduced the perpetual cup and the event has grown year on year with a number of high-profile figures from the sporting and acting world joining in.

Speaking about the event, Derek Evans – one of the key organisers – says it was a great day for all concerned.

“We got a very good turnout,” he told GazetteSport. “Unfortunately, the main pitch had been played on Sunday and had roughed up a bit so had to play on a secondary pitch but the game itself went ahead despite a heavy shower halfway through. Shelbourne won quite well and the captain, Jake Donnelly, accepted the Michael Toft Perpetual Cup on behalf of them.”

Shels came on board by virtue of their close links to club president Frank Monahan.

“Frankie Monahan, one of the club’s founder members and club president, has an association with Shelbourne for the past 40 years. He is a steward at all their home games and goes to all their matches. This was the third year of the event and he put it to Shels to see if they would take part and they said no problem as a thank you really for all the work he does for them.”

At half-time, a celebrity penalty shoot out took place with the club’s own Neale Fenn, a former Tottenham Hotspur player, winning out.

“Some of the Gaelic stars couldn’t make it because they were at [Galway hurler] Niall Donoghue’s funeral in Mayo but we still had a good showing. Neale won the shoot-out, scoring three from three penalties. David Duffy – Leo from Fair City – got one from his three but stayed on to present the trophy along with club chairman Ray Kelly.”

The event was used to raise funds for Pieta House, the suicide and self harm resource centre and, while the final figure has yet to be confirmed as more donations come in during the week, Evans said that the income will be substantial.

“We had a bucket collection along with a programme with ads in it which we asked for donations for. When we have the final figure later this week, we hope to get Paul Flynn along again to present a cheque. The likes of Jason Sherlock and Barney Rock put in €100 and that sort of thing for taking part in the shoot-out.

“All in all, it was a great day and everybody who came along enjoyed it.”

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