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Return to action for Castle Villa!

Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting. - Joyce Mey

The global pandemic has had an impact on lives right around the world, and we're hopefully approaching the final straight of the return to normality of society.

The major impacts were of course on people; on people's health and that of their friends and loved ones, on people's jobs and livelihoods. It's certainly been an awful time for everyone, and another impact was of course the restrictions placed upon the sports we love.

After the initial lockdown, and a brief return, we were hit with the Three County Lockdown - Kildare, Laois, and Offaly were wrapped in virtual bubble wrap, and the whistle was blown on play once again. Seasons for both the Castle Villa senior and underage teams were again disrupted, and we were all left with our arms swinging. There were bags in hotpresses and kits in utility rooms all over the country. Kids grew out of boots they never got to wear, and all the time we were just hoping to hear good news, to see that light at the end of the tunnel. It was frustrating to say the least, but a small price to pay, given the greater problems we all faced.

Zoom meetings, online lotto draws, group training plans, and MapMyRun screenshots became the norm, but what we all wanted was to get back to watching a game, marking lines on a pitch, and watching the lads get back to action. Well, that time has come. Training has been back for a number of weeks now, the academy has returned, and games are imminent! The underage section returns in the coming days with games at various locations, including two home games next Saturday the 12th. Stephen Rooney, Underage Secretary shared his thoughts with us over the weekend. Stephen said

"There are exciting times for Villa Underage Teams at the moment; Community, parental involvement & volunteerism are reaching new heights with the Club, enabling our kids to enjoy the much-loved game of football together. Our under 16 and under 14 boys are finishing their 2020 season, starting this week. Our under 13 girls play their first competitive game on June 19th, and current Senior Team Captain Roy Byrne is managing a newly formed under 13 boys team, who'll be playing their first games in July. Also starting on June 19th are the non-competitive teams - the under 11 girls, under 10 boys, and under 8 boys, and we hope to have enough players for an under 8/9 girls team too! With the academy going from strength to strength also with boys and girls from 6 years old taking part, it's certainly a busy place to be in Mullarney right now. Those kids are having fun playing games and learning the basic skills that hopefully see them playing with Villa for many years to come, all the way to Senior team level, and who knows perhaps even further."

And the senior team return to action tonight with a home game versus our nearest friends and neighbours, Moone Celtic. Speaking ahead of the game manager Liam Murphy was eager to get underway:

"Tuesday's game versus Moone will be our first friendly in about a year. Having lost a couple of our senior lads for different reasons we will have a very young side but what we lack in experience we make up for with quality and pace. We have a very large number of players so everyone will have to be on their toes. Team spirit is very strong as most of these lads have come through our youth system so credit to the underage managers and coaches. It’s our job now to keep improving them and get the best out of them on a regular basis. Even though training has been restricted it was great to get the lads back together.

As you know the committee have worked very hard to get the facilities back in superb condition. It would be hard to find a better playing surface anywhere. We are all looking forward to more friendly games over the next few weeks in preparation for the new season".

Unfortunately, the current restrictions prevent supporters from attending any of the games at the moment, but we're one further step along the road to normality, and we'll all continue to try to have that good attitude while waiting for a return of supporters!

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