CLONDALKIN Celtic’s Under-15 side have topped off their very first season by winning an unlikely League Cup.
Clondalkin have not operated a schoolboy side in over ten years, and reformed the age group team last summer with a view to developing youth football at the Leinster Senior League outfit. Former Clondalkin Celtic schoolboy player Stephen Maxwell was invited in to run the side.
Maxwell was able to use his contacts as a former age group manager at Ashwood FC, a club he left two years ago, to help in bringing together his new team.
“As soon as I put up on Facebook that I was starting up a side again, players started getting back to me”, Maxwell told GazetteSport. “I left Clondalkin Celtic as a player at a similar age group, so it made sense for me to come back and get things going again.”
Clondalkin played Granada FC in the league cup final, which pits the top sides in SDFL under-15 football against each other in a season-ending contest. Celtic came out 2-0 winners, with goals from Joe Bankole and captain Craig Lynam-Clarke winning the day.
Maxwell highlights Lynam-Clarke as his key player this season, alongside the club’s top scorer Dylan Callely and left back Jamie Hannigan, all of whom he brands “outstanding”.
“We reached the semi final in one cup, won a second cup and finished third in the SDFL Under-15 Division 1,” Maxwell told us. “It’s been a good first season. We’ve been running a senior side for six or seven years now, so it was time to incorporate something a bit more. We’ll be taking things further next year with an under-17 team.”
The Under-15 side finished their league season on a high, with 4-1 and 4-0 wins against the league’s bottom club Aungier Celtic bracketing a marginal defeat, 2-1 to Granada, the same side they went on to take the league cup from a couple of months later.
They also drew 3-3 with high fliers Templeogue United, costing the second placed side their title shot. Templelogue were despatched 1-0 in the league cup semi final, too.
Maxwell hopes to add a league win as well as achieve further cup success next year, while the club will build on the schoolboy development long term not just with the new under-17 side, but also – hopefully – by adding two further age group sides the following year.
The senior side also had a good season in taking their league title, and reaching the Noel Ryan Cup semi before losing out to one of the Leinster Senior League’s big boys in Crumlin United. They’ll hope to reap the benefits of this fast-developing youth system.