Haley’s Cumnock Challenge – Celtic begin defence of Women’s Scottish Cup

Celtic FC Women are in action for the first time in 2024 tomorrow afternoon as we begin our defence of the Scottish Cup away to Ayr United

Ayr United Women welcome Celtic Women to Townhead Park, Cumnock for their Scottish Cup Third Round clash. The teams have not faced each other previously, but Ayr United did host our academy in 2019 for a game that saw the youngsters run out 3-0 victors. No doubt the first meeting between the two senior sides will prove to be exciting.

Ayr have had a good start to the season, as they currently sit third in the Scottish Women’s Football Championship. In their last five games, they have won three, lost one, and drawn twice. In that time, they have scored 11 goals and conceded 10.

If you need a refresher after the women’s winter break, Celtic are currently second in the Scottish Women’s Premier League. We have won four of our last five games but failed to overcome Hearts in a game that ended 1-1. We have scored 29 goals and conceded one in this time.

Former Celtic player and current Ayr United star Clare Docherty spoke to Leading the Line about the decision to keep the game at Townhead Park, rather than hosting it at the ground belonging to the men’s team. She said: “It’s been a collective choice to keep the game at our home ground. Any advantage to us we have to take it. If we play at Somerset, it could have felt like an away game for us plus that big grass park might have suited Celtic more.

“We’ve got a great relationship and a lot of memories at Cumnock so why change the habit of a lifetime. We’re really happy the game is going to be there.”

She also spoke about the clash in general, saying: “With Celtic, we’re not afraid of it. We don’t think we’re going to win but we’re not going to let them run over the top of us and there’s a little bit of belief that maybe we can do something.”

Chloe Craig spoke to Celtic TV ahead of the match. She said: “It’s always good to get back in and working again, especially with us having a game right away at the weekend. It gets you focused and gets your mind ready for the return.

“So to have the girls back on the pitch and getting our legs going again has been great and it’s been a good start so far. Getting back to the games is what we train for. This is a trophy that we are trying to defend, so for us, these games are all cup finals just as they are every week.”

David Haley is now in charge of the Celtic FC Women side

And David Haley, now heading up the women’s team after the departure of Fran Alonso just before Christmas, has revealed that nothing much will change in terns of training or tactics in matches as the team has enjoyed considerable success over the past few seasons – very much a case of if it’s ain’t broke don’t fix it.

it’s actually quite concerning, in my opinion, that nothing has been said in regard to this. We’re quickly approaching a tie that will kick off our defence of the cup and we have no clue who is even in the running for the role.

There has been no word from Celtic as to who will be taking over as head coach. I haven’t heard any rumours so I can’t provide any inside information either, but as always, stay tuned as The Celtic Star will bring you all the latest updates as they happen.

With nothing from the club about a replacement for Fran Alonso perhaps the simplest solution is to give David Haley a chance to impress as interim manager and it that works out then the job could be his? Here’s David Haley speaking to Celtic TV…

In terms of player selection, all of this season’s starters should be ready to go. We will likely see the return of Kit Loferski, as former manager Fran Alonso mentioned in November that she should be available for this tie.

My score prediction for this one is 5-0 to the Celts. Let’s kick the year off with a dominant performance in Cumnock!

Tickets are prices at just £6 for adults and £2 children and Celtic fans can purchase tickets for the game HERE. The game kicks off at 2pm on Sunday at Townhead Park in Cumnock KA18 1LZ. If you can, get behind the Ghirls as our defence of the cup officially begins!

The game is not available to watch online but I’ll be there covering the game for The Celtic Star, providing you with all of the latest match updates and The Celtic Star will have our match-day photographer at the game as we once again begin our journey to the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden.

Come on you Ghirls in green! Let’s kick off 2024 with a comprehensive victory!

Jessica Elliott

About Author

I'm a student journalist and Celtic supporter. I'm delighted to have been recently appointed women's football writer for The Celtic Star, where the coverage of the Celtic FC Women's team has been incredible and unrivalled over the past three seasons.

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