Celtic in search of grounds for optimism

 

As if it's not tough enough having to visit the National League champions in the first round of the Harp Lager FAI Cup, Glenmore Celtic will have other things on their mind when they travel to Richmond Park on Saturday night.

Player-manager Joe Reynolds is in "we'll give it a lash" mode ahead of a game that few people reckon his side have any real prospect of winning, but admits that the Intermediate and Metropolitan cups as well the club's Leinster League campaign figure more prominently on his priority list.

For club secretary Tommy Carroll there are other concerns. The club's home at the Maccabi Grounds in Kimmage has reportedly been sold and for the 21st time in its 53-year history, Glenmore will be on the move.

"Really that's got to be our priority for the moment," says Carroll, who has been secretary for about 40 of those 53 years. "We're probably going to have to find somewhere to play next season and we're definitely going to have to find somewhere of our own in the longer term because we simply can't keep going on paying rent for grounds and then having to move on again."

Glenmore's record of lost grounds serves as a cautionary tale to other clubs that have failed to anchor themselves securely in their locality. The club was established to play close to Glenmore Cross (between Dundrum, Rathfarnham and Ballinteer in the lower reaches of the Dublin mountains), but after just a single season at its initial site the wandering started.

Over the years there have been spells at the Carlisle Grounds, Rochestown Avenue, Clondalkin and Dundrum and a long list of other sites. A spectacular number of the club's many home pitches are now homes for Dublin's evergrowing population.

Carroll is keenly aware that the club must settle if it is to make serious progress on the playing side over the coming years. He and the rest of the board are hoping that a big gate at Richmond Park on Saturday will provide the first instalment of the money required to set them up in a place they can finally call their own.

Reynolds understands the priorities of Glenmore's administrators, but has somewhat different concerns ahead of Saturday night's game.

The fact that home advantage has been surrendered to Liam Buckley's team has hardly boosted his side's chances of pulling off an upset, but Reynolds, whose 12year National League career included spells at Shelbourne, Drogheda and, until last season, Waterford United, isn't overly-concerned.

"The truth is," he says, "that it means that there's even less pressure on my players. They have a terrific side, with great players in every single position, they are one of the best two teams in the country and they're playing at home in a great ground. I'll be hoping that my lads rise to the occasion and get an extra lift from the surroundings."

Like his opposite number, Reynolds sets a lot of store in getting the ball out wide and in behind defences. However, he knows that his side will have to bear a good deal of pressure on Saturday. As one of the regular central defenders, Reynolds will feel the pressure personally.

"With the likes of Trevor Molloy and Ian Gilzean they have the potential to cause us a lot of problems, especially from setpieces, but we've been working on that a lot we hope to have a plan to deal with whatever they throw at us on the night."

The club's recent record - they are undefeated in their last 11 outings - gives some cause for confidence, though clearly nobody is pretending that they have met any side of St Patrick's calibre during that run.

The club made it to the Cup quarter-finals back in 1993. On that occasion their most spectacular achievement was fighting their way back from 4-0 down with 20 minutes to go against Ashtown Villa at Belfield. Glenmore went on to win the replay and beat Tramore Athletic in the second round before going down to Shelbourne at Tolka Park.

However, they have yet to beat National League opposition in any of their appearances in the competition. They may not manage it this time either but Reynolds is not quite conceding anything just yet.

"We have some good players and a positive way of playing the game, so we'll have a go at them and hopefully make it hard for them. When the time is right we'll get forward and attack them and if we do that well then you never know what might happen on the night."