Endangered Species Emerge as Georgie O’Callaghan Park Officially Opens

The Castleisland ADC All Conquering Legends. Front from left: Neil O’Sullivan, Patrick O’Rourke who scored the first official goal on the new pitch; John McGaley, Patrick Hickey, Jason McCarthy and Stan Divane. Back from left: Paul Carmody, Martin ‘Mazza’ Moriarty, goal scorer; Aidan O’Callaghan, Kevin Moran, Mike McCarthy and team manager Pa McCarthy. ©Photograph: John Reidy

After Saturday’s amazing day-long event, surrounding the official opening of the Georgie O’Callaghan Park, there’s a new endangered species in the Castleisland area.

Soccer fans with wellingtons are likely to be consigning their boots to the shed or worse as the new astro turf pitch takes over.

It was a day of non-stop activity to mark the club’s finest hour in its 46 year history and a long, long way from Gerald Wren’s field and the winter of 1973.

The following dawn to dusk report was put together by Neil O’Sullivan the senior team PRO.

A Historic Day for Castleisland AFC

It was a historic day for Castleisland AFC and the town of Castleisland and its neighbouring parishes with the official opening of Georgie O’Callaghan Park taking place last Saturday April 27th.

Storm Hannah had her say on Friday night so it meant an early start for Castleisland AFC Committee members and numerous volunteers who were on hand from 7am to set up the pitch for the event.

By 11am the scene was set for the day ahead and it was on to the River Island Hotel for a sponsors’ brunch with the legends.

Stars in their Eyes

A great crowd of young and old Irish supporters turned out to the hotel eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Irish Legends.

After a bit of a wait they were first greeted by Everton Legend Kevin Sheedy, followed by the arrival of Ray Houghton, Ronnie Whelan and Mark Kinsella.

Attentions then turned back to Georgie O’Callaghan Park where the Castleisland AFC underage boys and girls teams were putting on a great exhibition for those who arrived early to the pitch.

The atmosphere of the day was building as the crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting where Theresa Landers , Castleisland Community College; Patrick O’Rourke, Castleisland AFC; Minister Brendan Griffin; Cllr. Jim Finucane and FAI President Donal Conway all addressed the still gathering crowd.

Many Tributes to Georgie

All paid tribute to club founder Georgie O’Callaghan who had worked tirelessly on and off the pitch for years and no doubt he was the proudest man looking down on what he and his club had achieved in the last number of years.

In fact I feel Georgie had a part to play in cutting a deal with Mother Nature to ensure that the weather remained dry from the time of the pitch opening all the way through the Legends Match.

Irish Legends V Castleisland AFC Selection

At 2.30pm the Irish Legends and the first Castleisland AFC Select team took to the pitch for the warm-up ahead of the big kick off. The crowd had now well and truly gathered and it almost felt like a Champions League Final as both teams were paraded onto the pitch accompanied by local mascots. After the singing of the National Anthem by Ailish Walsh and Bríd Mills a minute’s applause was held to celebrate the achievements of Georgie and it was time for kick-off.

The Irish Legends kicked the game off with the likes of Ronnie Whelan, Mark Kinsella, Tony Sheridan taking to the field in the opening game.

Castleisland Struck First

The Legends started well passing the ball around comfortably in midfield, showing their class as the ball seemed to be stuck at their feet.

A well set up home side were proving difficult to break down with the back three of Aidan O’Callaghan, Mike McCarthy and Paul Carmody defending well and being helped out by their wing backs John McGaley and Jason McCarthy.

Against the run of play it was Castleisland who struck first when Martin Mazza Moriarty was put through on goal and was brought down in the box by the Legends goalkeeper, D.J. Curtin.

First Goal to Chairman Pa

It was written in the stars that club chairman Patrick O’Rourke would score the first goal of the day and he coolly dispatch the penalty into the bottom corner – as many the time before.

An upset was now on the cards when the local side scored the second goal of the game from a Patrick Hickey corner.

It was Mazza who rose highest to head into the back of the legends’ net. The Legends got one back late in the game but the home side held on to score a memorable win against a star studded Legends side.

The ’98 Invincibles

The second game saw the ‘1998 Invincibles’ take to the pitch. This team was made up of local legends who won the league title back in 1998.

They were in for a tough battle as they came up against an Irish Legends side who were looking to bounce back from the opening defeat.

The home side put up a great battle and had a number of chances during the game but eventually went down 1-0. A dubious off-side decision denied Paul Geaney an equaliser but the linesman’s flag was held high in the sky.

A Volkswagen 11

The third and final game of the day saw a Volkswagen 11 take to the pitch. Again the local side put up a spirited display but eventually went down 3-1 to the Legends side.

There were local goalscorers in this game as Jerome Flynn netted for the Volkswagen side and Minister Brendan Griffin who played with the Legends in the final game, found the back of the net.

We would like to thank everyone that played their part in a hugely successful day on the pitch.

Community-Wide Involvement

There were many volunteers involved including stewards, ticket collectors, the people working in the tea and coffee shop, the bouncy castle operators and many others who all pulled together to put on a successful event. As the curtain was drawn down on the pitch events it was on to Tom McCarthy’s Bar for a drinks reception before the GALA dinner.

Again it was a great opportunity for locals to mix with the Legends at Tom’s and as always the atmosphere in the bar was fantastic.

The Hamilton Scores

The GALA dinner was then held in the River Island Hotel where George Hamilton joined the Legends for a night of stories and tales from successful Irish teams down the years.

The stories told were fantastic and included many humorous twists during the Jack Charlton era of Irish football.

After the meal, the crowd was entertained by the fantastic Comic Book Heroes who played late into the night.

Thanks to All

All in all it was a fantastic day for the area and Castleisland AFC. From start to finish the event was a credit to everyone involved and we would like to thank all the volunteers, sponsors and committee members who gave up so much time to make the event a success.

We look forward to many years playing on Georgie O’Callaghan Park and with dressing rooms next on the cards we hope that everyone continues to get behind the project in the coming months.

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