Newmarket Celtic will look to put provincial silverware on the board for the first time in the club’s history this weekend in the Munster League Champions Trophy final.
Liam Murphy and Davy Ryan’s outfit are on the crest of a wave after qualifying for an eighth consecutive Clare Cup final where an inter-club showdown with Newmarket Celtic B awaits on what will be a historic occasion.
They are also on the brink of another Clare League title with just a handful of points now needed to wrap up that crown.
It is the second time Newmarket Celtic have reached the final of this competition with their first appearance coming in 2016 when they lost out to Limerick side Janesboro at Frank Healy Park in Doora.
Standing in their way this time around is a St Michael’s side who are also preparing for the FAI Junior Cup final, with Sunday’s game set to be played in Two-Mile-Borris in Tipperary with a 2pm start.
Newmarket boss Liam Murphy feels a tough few weeks in the closing stages of the season provides its own challenges.
“Conditions were tough against Avenue on Saturday night and maybe we had a bit more fitness in the second-half, but it would have taken its toll on us too. We set about recovery straight away as we do every game, and while it is busy, the lads have time to be tired at the end of the season and hopefully be able to look back on a successful few weeks and have a few trophies under the belt. In fairness to them, they’re recovering and preparing in the right manner and hopefully that will stand to them” he said.
St Michael’s are appearing in this final for the third year running, but are yet to add to their only title which was won back in 2015. Murphy knows the challenge doesn’t get any easier from here on in.
He said: “We couldn’t have asked for better preparation for this game than having the battle we did with Avenue last weekend. We knew we had the Turnpike game in midweek too and we didn’t take that lightly either, but the cup semi-final got us set up nicely to the pace of game that we are going to face down there. It’s on down in Two-Mile-Borris which is a place we are not familiar with but we will get down there and have a look at the pitch and prepare as best we can. We know we will have to be at our absolute best to beat St Michael’s, and they’ve already gotten the better of us in the FAI Junior Cup earlier this year on a day that we didn’t take our chances. If we did, it could have been a different result but they are a class act, there’s no doubting that. We will have to be at full tilt to beat them and that everyone is ready to hit that target”.
That defeat to St Michael’s was the only blemish on the Newmarket copybook in what has been an otherwise perfect season as they chase down silverware on five different fronts. Murphy feels learning from the mistakes of that defeat will be crucial if they’re to reverse the result.
“We are always referring back to that game because in truth it was probably the worst 45 minutes in my time involved with Newmarket Celtic and no one knows that better than the players themselves. They know a chance was missed to go on and have a run in the FAI but it wasn’t to be. St Michael’s showed their class that day in how they put us away in the end but I am confident we have learned from it. I would like to think that going down there next Sunday we can apply some of those lessons and hopefully have a better chance to win a first provincial trophy” he noted.
When the final whistle blows on Sunday afternoon, thoughts will turn straight away to another massive game for the club as Pike Rovers await in the Munster Junior Cup semi-final just six days later. Murphy hopes a win on Sunday will be the boost they need to keep their strong run going.
“People might look at the Champions Cup and say that it is the secondary competition in Munster, but at the moment it is everything for us. We have never won anything outside of Clare and we will worry about Pike Rovers after Sunday and concentrate on them when the time comes. This is massive for us and we feel we are in a good position having lost just one game all season. The squad is working away nicely and if there is such a thing as a good time to have injuries, that’s when we had them just after Christmas. Everyone is flying fit now and ready to go so we just hope that we can get the right result down there” he concluded.