AWAY TRIP REVIEW: CELTIC v IRELAND, GLASGOW, MARCH 2018
Sunday 20th May marked one of those special days in football – when a club side takes on an international team. For many this is a perfect match up. Celtic, the green and white side of Glasgow, playing against the country that it is so often associated with. Recognisable through the many tricolour’s flying at every home and away game, songs from the terraces based on true traditional Irish songs and accents from each corner of the emerald isle heard through the crowd.
Of course the main reason that this game was scheduled was to mark the eleven years that Celtic captain Scott Brown has amassed as a player for the hoops. The first captain in Scottish football to lead his team to a double treble. A fantastic achievement despite any thoughts you may have on the Scottish league
Whilst this game presented a chance for the Celtic fans to recognise and thank Brown for his service to the club, it also gave Martin O’Neill the opportunity to bring fresh faces to the international scene.
As it was a Sunday this game would have to be taken in all in one day. This meant a lovely 04:30 alarm, ready to set off on the first flight out of Luton. Upon landing we headed straight for breakfast at the Sir John Moore – a Wetherspoons offering the hope of both food and drink in the early hours. However, not even in Glasgow can Wetherspoons outdo the competition, as the earliest you could get a drink anywhere was 11:00. Something clearly overlooked by myself and the rest of the Ireland fans now begrudgingly washing down their breakfast with a coffee.
After a brief look in the Celtic shop on Argyle Street, it was off to the Tolbooth Bar to quench the thirst. It filled up quickly with fans from both sides, although it may be hard to tell them apart, especially the lads who wear their Celtic shirts to the Ireland games. A few familiar faces including our friends from Catalpa were enjoying the good atmosphere of the small pub on the corner
Another stop in the hoops bar along the way, was welcome, especially as they were blaring out all the songs you would expect to hear in the Claddagh Ring on a Sunday night. Time for the game and casting an eye over the new crop.
A much changed team put on a good display against Celtic, albeit a day after the hosts had won the third trophy of their treble. Derrick Williams and Alan Browne settled well with the latter grabbing the opening goal. Coleman and McClean look assured and provided the calmness and experience expected from the senior members. O’Dowda looked a constant threat throughout getting in on the act with a great effort that went in off the keeper, whilst Egan and Lenihan looked composed. It was also good to see a League of Ireland player make an appearance through Graham Burke, hopefully a sign that the league is getting stronger.
“Probably the right result”
2-2 the final result and probably the right result given that so many players took to the pitch, including Celtic legend and former world class striker Henrik Larsson.
After the game we headed to Malone’s to enjoy a bite to eat and great atmosphere. One man and his guitar lead the ever increasing crowd through renditions of all the great Irish songs. Once again I could see many faces from the club and I expect that they enjoyed the rest of the evening in the middle of Glasgow.
Our day was almost complete but for a delay at the airport – not what you want after such a long day. However, this did present the opportunity to meet Callum O’Dowda, a club favourite. He was more than willing to pose for photos and sign any items for the fans and we were lucky enough to have a chat. It was great to see how he loved mingling with the crowd, and generally enjoyed himself. I have no doubt that his dedication on the pitch and rapport with the fans will see him become both a fan favourite and integral part of the team in the future.
All in all it was a great trip to Celtic Park. It’s easy to see why there is such a strong link between the club and country. Something obvious in the crowd reaction every time McClean was on the ball. I think a move for James to Celtic would be a match made in heaven. Loved and appreciated by his fans, whilst playing under a manager who gets the best out of his players. Surely inevitable down the line.
Great preparation for the upcoming friendlies, I think we will learn a lot about the next campaign through these games and the players who are looking to make a mark