'Huge opportunity' as Dublin team set to link up with Celtic
A soccer club in Ballymun has signed a historic deal that will see them go into partnership with Celtic Football Club.
Last night, Ballymun United became the third Dublin club to join the Celtic International Club Partnership Programme.
It's a "huge opportunity" for young kids who are looking to make a career in the game, according to club secretary, Bernard O'Connor.
"We're absolutely thrilled. It's superb for the kids in the area, it's absolutely huge," Mr O'Connor said. "There's a buzz around the area at the moment so we're really looking forward to it," he added.
The programme will ensure that players at the club will get the best coaching and training available in Ireland.
"They come over and coach the kids and they run camps through the winter and the summer.
"The kids that choose football as a career have a huge opportunity," Mr O'Connor said.
"The coaching levels are way up there, they're a Champions League club so it's a huge thing for us, especially in the area of Ballymun."
With 300 members in the club already, Ballymun United are already in a significant growth phase. However, with one of the most popular clubs among Irish fans joining with them, it may sway even more support from locals, who will want their children trained by their favourite team and coached to a high level.
Club chairman James Dunne said provisions were in place for the most skilled players to have an opportunity to travel to Glasgow for trials with the Scottish club.
"For the first time I feel Ballymun United FC is being treated as an equal partner, and we have found a club that shares a common goal," Mr Dunne said.
"The provision of trial places and exchange visits for our teams will provide our players with even greater opportunities as they move forward with their careers.
"We look forward to working with Celtic FC as we continue our development and maintain our position as one of the best clubs in the country," he added.
Councillor Noeleen Reilly said that the deal is a testament to graft put in by local volunteers of the years.
"Since the last Sixties, they have been working with young people in the area, taking children off the streets and bringing the community together in a positive way," Ms Reilly said.