Ardee Celtic will play in the North East Football League Premier Division in 2017/18 – after they were promoted following Navan Cosmos’ decision to withdraw themselves from senior competition.
Having finished third in last season’s Division 1 campaign before losing the promotion/relegation playoff to Boyne Harps, the NEFL confirmed this morning that the Townspark club had accepted the invitation to move up a level to replace the Cosmos and ensure the top tier remains a ten team division.
Speaking to ThisIsArdee.ie today, Ardee Celtic coach Conor Lynch said having to get to grips with Premier Division football so close to the season’s start would be “a tough challenge” but added it was what the senior side had been working towards all of last season.
Ardee Celtic will begin their season in the Kilmessan Shield on Wednesday August 9th, against fellow Premier Division side Quay Celtic.
On Monday, Navan Cosmos issued a statement confirming they were not entering a senior team in the coming campaign – instead focusing on their juvenile and academy set-up. Their statement read, “It is with great regret Navan Cosmos FC announces it will not be entering any senior teams in the NEFL this coming season 2017/18.
“After a period of unprecedented success for our club in previous seasons, in the past weeks we have explored multiple options and alternatives which would allow us to participate at senior level but unfortunately it is now with a heavy heart we’ve arrived at this difficult decision.
“We are now putting 100 per cent focus on our 17 under-age teams plus academy and we will reassess our position regarding senior teams towards the end of the 2017/18 Season.”
The Meath men won this year’s Tully Bookmakers Challenge Cup and back in January they inflicted a heavy defeat on Ardee Celtic en route to success in that competition. That defeat was a rare blot on an otherwise sterling season for the Deesiders. They lost just twice in the regular league season and remained in the top three for virtually the entire season as their automatic promotion push went to the wire.
This development means that – cup draws notwithstanding – there will be no Ardee derby for one season at least. Square United are gearing up for another season in the second tier. They start their season with a trip to United Park to face Boyne Harps in the Kilmessan Shield.