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*Tadhg Noonan pictured in action against Klorane Tabot-Ndip is one of the new additions to Newmarket Celtic’s squad. Photograph: Joe Buckley

Soccer players across the county will agree that the junior leagues are “the real bread and butter competitions” so it’s not at all surprising that all are delighted that, after almost two years without league action, competition for the various league titles will get underway this weekend.

Action in the Premier, First, Second and Third Division Leagues all kick off this weekend. Newmarket Celtic will be vying to continue their dominance in the Premier Division with a bolstered Avenue Utd squad managed by David Russell along with Bridge Utd and Shannon Town Utd A the top of the chasing pack.

Current Celtic coach, Donal Magee stressed the importance of keeping things on the road. “COVID has been so disruptive. Some lads thought about retiring, they got a break and are now going back for another season. On the other side of the coin more went and did other things during the lock down and are slow about returning. It’s the same across all sports”.

“A lot of clubs in all codes are struggling for volunteers as many have walked away and are enjoying their free time. There is still a lot to be concerned about in relation to COVID. I have a young family and I work for myself and I worry that COVID might come into our group,” the Shannon resident said.

Callum McNamara’s progression to Treaty Utd leaves a gap in the heart of their team while the trio of Eoin Hayes, Stephen Kelly and Kevin Harnett are currently focusing on their GAA commitments. Magee said a fully fit squad is needed for Newmarket to have a good run in both the FAI and Munster Junior Cup competitions.

Meanwhile down the road in Bunratty, Dean Russell and Paddy Twomey are the joint managers of the Bunratty Cratloe team that will compete in the Suttons Lighting Third Division. They have won all their four games in the league cup and have qualified for the final to be played in October.

“I had just got involved before Covid hit and like all clubs we have had little competition over the past two seasons. While a lot of teams are struggling, we have been fortunate and we have a panel of twenty players all of whom are fighting hard to be in the team. We start the league this Saturday evening with a home game against Manus Celtic B”, explained Russell who started his playing career at the club.

His father Stephen played for Newtown and he was the last manager to win a trophy with Bunratty “so the pressure is on,” Dean admitted. “Players want to be playing and training and that’s the case here in the club. They are itching to get back to regular action and be playing here in Woulfe Park and at venues throughout the county”.

At adult level there are fifteen league games down for decision this weekend across four divisions with five games listed in the first division. In addition there are six youths league ties listed for decision and one under 19 game. It promises to be an exciting weekend.

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