The Bhoys were back in town last week when Ardcroney FC played host to a Glasgow Celtic training camp that attracted 85 potential new Ireland stars.
The small, rural club on the outskirts of Nenagh was just one of five chosen to host a week-long visit from four coaches belonging to the Scottish footballing giant’s youth academy.
“We have an involvement with the Brian Hogan Celtic Supporters Club and heard Celtic was looking for partnership clubs. We followed it up and after a lot of meetings and emails, we were chosen to host a camp,” Ardcroney’s John Crowe told the Tipperary Star.
John outlined that the camp was six months in the pipeline, with Mark Anderson from Celtic’s Dublin office travelling to North Tipperary to check out the local facilities.
The rest of the clubs chosen all belong to major urban centres and John reckons it was their three-year link to Celtic through visits to the city that probably got them over the line.
“We have been bringing our U14, U15 and U16 teams there for the past three years and have established a connection with Celtic. We have also played their schoolboys while we are there and we will be going again next year,” he said.
The coup was a major boost for Ardcroney with has just 75 members, with John saying the camp can only improve their structures and entice more local kids to join.
“Our coaches will now go to Scotland to work with John Kennedy, a senior coach with Glasgow Celtic, and shadow him for a week. The four coaches that were here swapped emails with our coaches and told them to get in touch if there is anything they want to discuss or improve,” he said of the benefit to the club of hosting the camp.
John pointed out that they opened the week to all the clubs in the area, with potential rising stars coming from Nenagh AFC, Lough Derg FC in Ballina and Portumna.
“We opened it to all levels and even had one young lad who has had a trial with QPR,” he revealed.
“All the clubs got involved and Ballymackey even offered us their goalposts,” he said.
Celtic also sent over a replica of the European Cup won on that memorable night in 1967 by the Lisbon Lions when they beat Inter Milan 2-1. Unlike other replicas, the cup was made by the man who fashioned the original cup.
During their stay, the Celtic coaches acted as ambassadors for Celtic, visiting and taking part in a basketball match with the local wheelchair association.