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Front Ireland Finance World Feature Sport Opinion Letters
The Irish Times
SPORT Monday, February 15, 1999

Photographs: Allsport.

Celts growing in confidence

by Armitage Shanks

Kaizen , a term used to describe the continually improving manufacturing methods implemented by Toyota, would be an accurate term to describe the performance of the Kanto Celts over the past twelve months. After the disastrous outing against the Swiss Kickers in the Japan Times Cup, the Celts went on to win their remaining five JT Cup matches, thus placing them in a strong position to secure a quarter final berth.
Japan Times Cup games aside, the Celts have successfully used friendlies and five a sides to develop a tighter team unit and work on areas which were causing problems in the past.
The improvement in teamwork and fitness was very much in evidence last Saturday at Oifuto where the Celts played two fifty minute games against a French side and a Japanese side.
The first game against the French, was dominated by the Celts. Early in the first half, a move of five passes culminated with an inch perfect cross from Burke to the head of O'Keeffe, whose effort was bungled into the head by a hapless French defender. Shortly after that another well worked move found Cumiskey in space and his shot with his lesser favoured foot beat the keeper to put the Celts two up.
Minutes later it was three-nil, when another string of passes between Dermody and Cumiskey found O'Keeffe, who crossed to Mehigan for him to bury the ball in the back of the French net.
Most impressive about the Celts was the lack of hoofing. Even Glynn was distributing the ball intelligently from the back four. Any threat the French posed was being stifled by the Celts and the always combative Beattie came back into midfield to scare the French with his ferocious tackling.
Changes were made and Murray particularly impressed with his control of the ball and accurate passing. Cumiskey made it four and the French were dead and buried.
Defeated though they were in footballing terms, the French nonetheless demonstrated admirably their superior technique in the art of whingeing. A free-kick from O'Keeffe which hit the outside of the wall was interpreted by one of the French players as a blatant attempt by the Celt player to try to hit and hurt one of their players with the ball. Needless to say, this gave O'Keeffe ideas as to what to with the ball should another free-kick be awarded.
At full-time, it looked like the boys in blue were planning to have an international incident over who should play the Japanese team next. Despite being played off the field they seemed anxious to have an immediate opportunity to redeem themselves. After much arguing, in particular by the prematurely balding members (an amazing four in total) of the Gallic garcons, a toss of the coin decided that the Celts would play Sunkai, the Japanese team.
Sunkai played some very attractive football but struggled to get past the Celts defence. Midfield played a very defensive role for the Celts in this game and worked well with the back four in snuffing out the considerable threat Sunkai posed.
A well taken goal by Cumiskey put the Celts one up, and although Sunkai came close on a number of occasions, that goal proved to be sufficient to give the Celts victory.
So, back to kaizen. The level of fitness and cohesion of the team was a considerable improvement on the outing against the Tokyo Irish and, if training and regular games continue, there is no reason why a decent run of victories won't be elusive to the Celts.

Chauvel, Conry, Glynn, Mullane, Hanafin, Cumiskey, Dermody, O'Keeffe, Mehigan, Burke, Beattie, Steele, Murray, Glenn

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