Northern Ireland hero McGovern inspires Celtic hopeful Hazard

Irish pair Fiacre Kelleher and goalkeeper Connor Hazard hope to be with the Celtic squad at the U-21 SuperCupNI.
Irish pair Fiacre Kelleher and goalkeeper Connor Hazard hope to be with the Celtic squad at the U-21 SuperCupNI.

Rising star Conor Hazard hopes to emulate Northern Ireland hero Michael McGovern on the big stage.

The Celtic teenager, who has impressed with Northern Ireland at under age level, has watched Enniskillen man McGovern, a former Celtic player, cover himself in glory at the Euro 2016 finals in France.

The next step for keeper Conor is being part of the Glasgow club’s squad for the inaugural SuperCupNI U-21 tournament next month, a competition which McGovern graced several times for County Fermanagh, once saving three spot kicks against a West Ham United team in a Junior quarter-final penalty shootout.

Celtic will play Real Sociedad at Ballymena Showgrounds on Thursday, July 21, while Espanyol face Everton at Coleraine Showgrounds the same evening.

Northern Ireland U-19 Hazard, from Downpatrick, has taken a reverse career route from Northern Ireland star Josh Magennis who started out as a goalkeeper and switched to striker. Hazard was a left sided outfield player but stood in for an injured team mate in goal in a game in 2012 and never looked back!

He played for Celtic against Cliftonville in the testimonial for Reds’ retiring captain George McMullan at Solitude earlier in the year, a game the Hoops won 3-0.

Several of that team are expected to feature at the SuperCupNI including Republic of Ireland U-17 international Fiacre Kelleher.

Chairman Victor Leonard said: “Celtic have been extremely positive about the idea since we first approached them.

“It is exciting for us to break new ground, not only with the inauguration of a new competition but also in welcoming a club of the calibre of Celtic to the event.

“We have enjoyed a healthy relationship in the past and their participation is also a fitting tribute to one of our tournament’s founders, Bertie Peacock, who was captain of Celtic during a highly successful era at Parkhead during the 1950s.”

Tickets for the SuperCupNI games, priced £12, are now available online at www.supercupni.com with a £12 value ticket for two matches involving all four teams at Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday, July 23. The 3rd/4th place play-off starts at 2.30pm with the final is at 5.30pm.

SuperCupNI is supported by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Tourism NI, Mitre, BBC Sport NI and The Sun.