Laying the Foundations
Strand Celtic FC was officially founded on January 12th 1972. Those attending the first meeting included Michael Weir, Terry Kiely, Liam Flannery, Jim McMorrow, Cyril Meehan, Aidan McMorrow, Jim Kivlehan and Joey Mullaney. The clubs first chairman was Jimmy Mc Morrow with Joey Mullaney acting as secretary while Aiden Mc Morrow took on the responsibility of treasurer.
Aiden Mcmorrow had the distinction of scoring the clubs first ever goal when he scored against the then high flying and now defunct Gillooly Rangers. The first excursion was something of a disaster as despite Aidan McMorrows first ever goal the Celts went down by six goals to one against Gillooly Rangers. Martin O connor was the clubs first ever manager.
However with hard work, dedication and commitment O Connor gradually turned the teams fortunes around with players like Francie O Connor, Dessie O Connor, Declan Curran, Tony Flynn, Dermot Cawley, Brian Byrne and the late Gerry McMorrow.
In the first year Celtic were forced to play all their games away. The generosity of Collegians helped in that Celtic was allowed to use their ground at Scarden and in 1974/75 Celtic moved to Browns field on the Strandhill road in 1974.While Collegians provided their ground in the first season Strand Celtic did not repay the favour as they defeated the then Division One Champions 2-1 in the old League cup competition !. Gillooly Rangers came through the other semi-final defeating Calry Bohemians. In the final the more experienced Gillooly Rangers defeated Strand Celtic by three goals to one but the club had established itself as a respected and well organised club despite its infancy. O connor was team manager for two years and put a tremendous effort into the club. There were other in charge before Joey Mullaney took over the reins as the club moved to Browns Field.
Life at Browns Field
the Brown family helped in no small way to keep Celtic in football and the use of the Strandhill road pitch has proved to be of enormous benefit down the years. Ensuring the long term survival of the club Joey Mullaney had the foresight to develop an underage structure within the club, a policy that has consistently led to a supply of younger players progressing to the senior team.
Features on a Sunday morning included having to clear horses from the field and carrying goal posts from road side a few hundred yards to the pitch. We also had to carry buckets of water and the bags of lime to the pitch for pitch marking. A critical task each morning was to ensure that when the horses were released by the Brown family that we prevented them from stampeding across the prepared pitch. On one memorable occasion having prepared the pitch with great difficulty, it was semi frozen from previous nights frost, the horses were seen galloping towards the pitch. Our efforts to head them off merely spread the herd and they duly destroyed the major part of the surface with hoof holes. Result - MATCH CALLED OFF, HEAVY FINE FOR STRAND AND SERIOUS SLAGGING BY OUR FELLOW SUPER LEAGUE COLLEAGUES FOR WEEKS AND WEEKS.” This is so far removed from facilities players have today but was a good grounding !
Joey Mullaney was instrumental in clubs policy of favouring young players and remained in charge until the 1985-86 season. He shared in two success in the Bank Of Ireland Cup and also brought the team to the FAI Junior Area Cup Final in 1983-1984 when they were runners-up and a year later when they won the FAI Junior Area Cup.
The club then secured the services of former Sligo Rovers star, Chris Rutherford, as manager for the 1986-1987 season. He guided the team to the runners-up spot again in 1986-1987 as they finished four points behind winners Calry Bohemians. In 1987 another former Sligo Rovers title winning player, Padraic McManus, took over the reins and took the Celts to the league title for the first time in their history. Former Saint Annes manager Kevin Quilkin was the assistant manager that year. This was a just reward for stalwarts such as Tommie Brett who that season reached the milestone of 250 games. This was also the year when the club formed a reserve team after the merger with Strandhill FC.
Getting our roots in Strandhill Village
Under the guidance of former committee members David Kivlehan and Ray O Donnell and Michael Cox the club sought a more permanent base for the team. Following the successful negotiation of a long term lease of a pitch from Strandhill Community Park, the club moved to Strandhill in 9999.
The club undertook a fund raising campaign culminating in the opening of new dressing rooms at Strandhill in August 1998. These were driven by a small committee culminating in sod turning by the late Sonny Bree who throughout his life remained one of the true supporter and sponsor of our efforts to provide football for the youth of our community. When our lease of the pitch was secured the main issues were the resurfacing of the existing surface which was scarred with large surface rocks which were a major impediment to the safety of players and a major surface flooding issue on the caravan park side of the pitch which was rectified with large scale drainage.
With the cooperation of the Trustees Strand Celtic Management Committee embarked on their first development plan culminating in the construction of dressing rooms, showers, meeting room and ref changing room. This initial development remains as part of the new complex to this day.
On the playing front the club had moved from a management committee to a senior team manager This position was filled by some high profile and successful managers like Chris Rutherford, P auric Mc Manus, Paul Fielding, Martin Mc Donnell and John Lynch to name but a few.
The club won its first ever Sligo-Leitrim Super League crown in 1988 when the title was clinched with a 1-1 draw at former champions Calry Bohemians. The club also won the Connaught Cup when defeating Ballyglass of Mayo in the final in 1999. This was part of the famous treble winning season.
Due to the lack of facilities in the early years of the clubs existence our clubhouse was Sonny Brees where we were generously accommodated by both Sonny and his sister Bridie. Sonny’s became the traditional collection point for our Treasurer- David Kivlehan - who with data in his famous “Red BOOK” relentlessly pursues the players for their outstanding fees. On the sad passing of Sonny the club continued to have the use of the premises with support from Johnny and Geraldine. Fund raising draws, celebrations on our successes, and our many committee meetings took place in Sonnys.
Our major sponsors at the time were Pat Grime Four Lanterns, Kevin Quinn. Embassy Rooms, Frankie Carty and Sligo Glass without whose help a lot of our progress would not have been possible. These were all vital to maintaining the club at the time.
Even in the 1978-79 season the club had a group of players operating in the senior squad after progressing through the underage teams and joining from school. Enda Scanlon. Paul Moylan, John Lynch and Gavin Dykes all played for Celtic and went on to turn out for Sligo Rovers in the League of Ireland. If these young players represent the new players like Liam Tinsley, Gerry Harrigan and Tommie Brett also appeared for Rovers in the past. Indeed Robbie Henberry also played for Sligo rovers as Strand Celtic at the time produced more players for senior football than any other club at that time. Secretary Joey Mullaney said at the time “it would be wonderful if we could bring these young players all the way through to the senior team.”. This was vision still in place today. Several team managers such as Sean Rooney, Michael Cox, Bernard Fitzpatrick Kevin Culkin, Christy Herrity and Canice Cooney have to be acknowledged as pioneering our youth policy which has been a major success for the club.
Like all Clubs Strand Celtic has had some sadness and tragedy in its history but the significant tragedy was the sudden and untimely death of out founder Joey Mullaney. Joeys vision and work has been evident in the continuous progress and success of our club. So much so that the function room in our club is named in his honour.
Moving into the 21st Century
A colts section for young children was created in 2002 by Maurice Monaghan. This caters for young children, both boys and girls, between the ages of five and ten. This section continues to thrive and has grown from an initial membership of twenty children to over one hundred and forty children. The Colts section has ensured a plentiful supply of coaches to our Youth section as a large number of parents have got involved over the years. In addition our Colts section has provided the kids with free club gear each year ranging from training tops to tracksuits, which is always part of it's appeal.
A number of the clubs senior players have also gone on to play league of Ireland football. Three players at the club have also won Irish Junior International Caps. These were Gavin Dykes, who of course went on to play for Sligo Rovers and Derry City, Stephen Rooney (1994) and Jimmy Colreavy.
In 2006/2007 Strand Celtic had their first ever under age international players when Barry O Mahoney and Bronagh Kerins received international caps for the Irish Schoolboys and Schoolgirls teams respectively. Barry and Bronagh were two outstanding players for our under age teams. This was a marvellous achievement for both players who had turned in outstanding seasons.
Our Senior team currently plays in the Super League. The team trains at Sligo IT and plays on a Saturday night where possible under the new floodlights. The first super league game under floodlights saw the hoops defeat a previously unbeaten Cartron United by one goal to nil. Our first senior goal scored under light was scored by Mark McCallion. This season the team coaches are Alan Chrystal and Maurice Monaghan. The two lads assembled a fine side with some of our young players starting to come through from our youth system. We continue to operate in the super league.
Reserve side reformed in 2011 through the initiative of Mick and Ryan McEnroe. Ryan was player/manager of a very successful side that won the McSharry and Foley Cup in 2012. Ryan has been replaced as manager by his brother Carl and Colin Reddington, son of former club stalwart Jim Reddington. Indeed the McEnroes and Reddingtons have been two of the clubs most active families over many years as players, administrators, coaches and general clubmen and women. The reserves mix a good combination of experience and youth and are currently competing in the Premier Division of the Sligo Leitrim and District League.
Thriving Development of Girls Football
The club had a girls section which was founded in 1999 by Finola Monaghan. This continues to thrive and the club has girls players involved at U6, U 8 and U10 with separate girls teams at U12, U14, U16 and U18. Successes have included winning all the various age group titles including three of the four titles in 2012. This was the clubs best ever season as our U14 girls also took our first ever girls Connacht cup and our U16 girls took the Connacht Shield. Both games were played in the Showgrounds.
Several girls internationals have been produced by the club including our first ever womens international, Bronagh Kerins, who is now on a college scholarship in the US. Subsequently Emma Hansberry went on to be selected for the Republic of Ireland U17 and U19 women teams. Perhaps the greatest moment ever was Emmas selection for the Republic of Ireland U17 Women’s team who participated in the U17 World Cup in 2009 in Trinidad and Tobago. Who will forget all the club members tucked into our women’s team sponsors, Bella Vista, watching the game against Japan at 1am as Emma came on as substitute to become the first player from our club to appear in a FIFA World Cup competition. The tears appeared in many people’s eyes including two of our girls most stalwart coaches, Finola Monaghan and Rosie Morrisey. This was only bettered by a brilliant homecoming in the Bella Vista two weeks later. Emma has gone on to play for Republic of Ireland U19, Republic of Ireland WOmesn Universities Team in the World Games and the Europena Universities Futsal Championships. Emma continues to coach on our Soccer Sisters programme each Saturday.
Lauren Boles also received international recognition in xxxx. Lauren has played in oue U14, U176 and U18 title winning sides and has also gone on to play in the Women’s National League with Castlebar Celtic.
Over the years coaches such as John McGovern, AJ Cogan and Paddy Norman have coached some very successful teams. Indeed out girls youth section has been traditionally the stronger of our two youth sections. Finola Monaghan and Rosie Morrisey have been around since the commencement of girls soccer and continue to drive the game forward for our young girls. Coaches this season include Aisling Curran, Brenda McCallion, Emma Hansberry, Finola Monaghan and Maurice Monaghan.
The club now runs Soccer Sisters for girls aged 7 to 10 years of age. This is a very successful programme and runs each Saturday at 2pm. We currently have over 40 girls in this section and it continues to feed our girls youth teams.
In recent years enormous strides have been made with the launch of the clubs development plan in 2006 under the chairmanship of Mick Mc Enroe. Phase One of this project consisted of the development of two pitches by Haffey Construction, supported by the LEADER program, in 2007. Phase II, which involved the development of a new clubhouse completed. The third phase saw the completion of the Car Park, Fencing and Installation of Dug Outs and was supported by our Development Committee, led by Damien Henry. The fourth phase saw the completion of our Astropark and the installation of a multi-sports surface. The fifth phase saw the installation of our new floodlights with the support of the Sports Capital programme.
The club have worked closely with the park trustees over this period to ensure the continued development of the park for our community. In addition to maintaining the park the club now ensures that many groups utilise the facilities including our local Bridge Club, Mother and Baby Club, Youth Club, Yoga, Fitness Classes, Music classes and a wide variety of other groups. In addition our over 35 group play every Monday night and we also provide the park to the local Mental Health Services for their use as a remedial facility with patients. The Strand Celtic Clubhouse is also used by a variety of local business and community groups for meetings.
Come on the Hoops
The club has always played in the green and white hoped jerseys made famous by Glasgow Celtic. All of the club teams today continue to play in the famous green and white hoops and this will never change. We are often called ‘The Hoops’ or ‘The Celts’ or indeed the ‘Seasiders’. Our crest has always been the canon symbol, in recognition of the canon at the seafront in Strandhill. The first crest was the Arsenal gun for expediency. The crest was updated in 2010 to more closely resemble the Canon in Strandhill and that is the crest that is use today.