Fintan Clarke was the big winner on the night as Ardee Celtic celebrated a stellar 2016/17 season – and their 25th anniversary too – at their Annual Awards night on Friday evening, with the centre-back winning First Team Player of the Year and Players Player of the Year accolades.
Clarke starred for the first team last season as they finished third in the NEFL Division – an achievement that despite a playoff loss was enough to see the Deesiders promoted to the top flight as Navan Cosmos withdrew from competition at the start of the month.
He helped his side to six clean sheets in league competition as he formed impressive partnerships at the heart of the Celtic defence first alongside Kenneth Thornton and latterly with Robert McNeice. Clarke also notched four goals at the other end of the pitch – including winners against Torro United and Black Bull.
He was awarded the Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year, the latter as voted for by his teammates, by Dundalk FC centre back Brian Gartland who was on hand at Club Luna in Ardee to present all of the awards on the night.
Captain Lorcan Myles was awarded for finishing as top goalscorer for the First Team in 2016/17. He scored eight goals throughout the league campaign. Mikey Nulty, who misses the start of the new season through injury, won the Young Player of the Year gong – following on from Darren McMullan’s win in 2016.
Players from past and present eras – as well family, friends and supporters – packed into Luna to honour all three of the Font’s senior teams and given their exploits last term, those in attendance were eager to see awards handed out for the second and third teams.
The 2016/17 campaign was a memorable one for the Ardee Celtic reserves. Stuart Reynolds’ guided his team to double success – and perhaps unsurprisingly, he was named Manager of the Year for his efforts. The seconds won both the NEFL Reserve Cup and the Gerry Reilly Memorial Cup, retaining the latter for the second straight year.
Conor Osbourne – who scored and was named man-of-the-match in the Reserve Cup final against Kingscourt Harps – was named Reserve Player of the Year while forward Jackie Agnew was named the Reserve Players’ Player of the Year. Agnew also took home the award for finishing the reserve Top Scorer. His penalty set the Deesiders on the way to winning the Gerry Reilly Cup in Navan back in May.
Frank Dowdall’s young third team enjoyed a sensational first season of competition in the NEFL B Reserve League, winning promotion as the young guns took the division by storm. Lorcan Malone was named the third team Player of the Year, with Collon native Ben McKenna voted the Players’ Player of the Year.
Dessie Jibona, fresh from a move to West Ham United, finished the season as the third team top scorer. The teenager bagged 19 goals in total as the team enjoyed a stellar year en route to promotion.
Also at the awards night, Paddy Myles was named the Club Person of the Year for 2017 and Eddie Coyle became the latest inductee into the Club’s Hall of Fame. Coyle, a prolific former striker and club stalwart, is the fourth person to be inducted into Ardee Celtic’s pantheon of greats – following on from Adrian Taaffe, Paddy Lambe and the inaugural inductee from back in 2014 Mickey Nulty.
As part of the club’s 25th anniversary celebrations, both Myles and Seamie Walsh took to the stage to talk about the development of Ardee Celtic from their beginnings in Darver to Townparks, discussing the growth of the club on and off the pitch.
Thanks to Padraig Wright for providing information and photographs for the above article.