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Castleknock clubhouse has a warm welcome

THE sweet smell of coffee fills the air. It's welcome on another chilly morning in Dublin West.

It's coming from the spot where once containers were home to Castleknock Celtic.

Porterstown is a lovely spot. A vast green oasis tucked in behind a church where every bride would like to get married.

The perfect location for a good walk through the fields followed by a picnic. It would make a good landscape painting.

The doors of the new Castleknock Celtic clubhouse have been open for a while now. All visitors are impressed. They stroll around the property admiring the brick work, and the view.

There's plenty of space and no shortage of dressing-rooms. The walls are already beginning to tell the Celtic story.

Brian Lenihan opened the building. A good choice. In his youth, he was a big supporter of Athlone Town.

Never out of St Mels Park and frequently on the road to follow the Town in their big Leinster Senior Cup games in Dalymount and Tolka Park.

"He was fantastic with the kids. We got a huge turn-out.

"Even SKY Sport showed up for the occasion. That caused more excitement. "They were here to interview John Delaney," smiles Castleknock' legendary secretary, Tony Jordan.

For 25 years, Tony's phone has been ringing every Friday and Saturday night, and a few nights in between as well.

And even on match days in Porterstown and elsewhere, he's in constant demand, fielding a hundred questions and sorting out this and that.

He's familiar figure whenever the Celts are in action. Camera hanging around the neck, always ready to capture the moment for the club's excellent website.

Tony is delighted with the reaction to the club's new home, which includes the ever-popular Coffee Dock and a Club Shop for jerseys, tracksuits, etc.

"It's an amazing facility," says Tony, who goes on to salute his Celtic colleagues in the club's hour of need.

Castleknock got funds from the Lotto and Fingal County Council, but then the Lotto funds dried up because of the country's financial situation. All the sports grants were cancelled.

"We are now completing it ourselves with all voluntary labour from within the club. People have been fantastic - electricians, plumbers, tylers, etc - all doing their bit to complete the job."

Eamonn O'Connor is among them. His energy will go into history. He has put in seating in nearly all the dressing-rooms.

The project wouldn't have gone ahead without the help of the Lotto and the Fingal County Council. Celtic made up the balance, which includes a handsome Credit Union loan.

"We now have to service that loan, so we'll be trying to get more people to commit to standing orders," explains Tony.

And in the meantime, Castleknock's heroic work will continue to make life better for the future generation of footballers.

"The clubhouse is a huge step along the way, but it doesn't complete our long term programme.

"We have a lovely sweet of 11-side and 7-a-side pitches in Porterstown. Now we want to put in a full size all weather pitch down at the back of them. That will be the final piece of the jigsaw."

Celtic have grown so much. There's now 800 names on the roll. They are also at home in Laurel Lodge where they have a small all-weather surface.

They are a leading example of putting in the hard yards, on and off the pitch.

Beautiful people playing, and providing, beautiful football. Long may TJ's phone keep on ringing. With folk like the Castleknock clan in football's family, the blend will always be golden.