Lewis keeper Rachael Johnstone clinches league and cup double with Celtic U19s
Rachael Johnstone clutched the Scottish Cup tightly in her gloved fists and roared into the Edinburgh sky, as she wrapped up her maiden campaign in between the sticks in the hoops of her beloved Celtic, with a league and cup double.
As the 15-year-old from Balallan, from our own Lochs district of Lewis, lifted the trophy she will be forgiven if spotting her reflection in the precious silverware brought a smile of satisfaction to her face.
After all it has been a remarkable year for the kid keeper who has cemented her position as Celtic No.1 in the under-17 side, lifting the league and Scottish Cup in the process and also going on to win half a dozen youth international caps for Scotland.
And doing all this while still studying hard at Sir E Scott School in Tarbert, shows just how dedicated the teenager is, as she literally has her future in the women’s game in her hands.
“I’m pretty speechless to be honest,” grinned Rachael as she spoke to the Gazette at the weekend.
“It is an amazing feeling to win the double and to be a winner in the league and the Scottish Cup now is brilliant, I can’t explain it.”
Celtic won the Under 19 league a week earlier by the margin of just a single point and while Celtic had one cross in their loss column in the league table, Rachael herself boasts an undefeated record playing for the club.
“We lost once this season, against Rangers, but I didn’t play that game so I guess I’m undefeated,” she laughed.
“To be honest I’m surprised how much I did play this season and I’ve played more than I expected. I cemented my place as No.1 after only a few games and it’s been brilliant.
“The league was very tight and it was between Aberdeen and us on the final day but we managed to beat Hearts to win the title. There wasn’t much between Aberdeen and us as we actually drew every time we played each other, but Aberdeen drew another couple of games against other sides when we didn’t, which helped us win the league.”
Having sewn up the SHAAP National Performance U19 League, and with her winner’s medal safely at home in Lochs, Rachael gloved up for the Scottish Cup Final against old foes Aberdeen just this past weekend.
This time there would be no draw or sharing of the spoils and with a chunk of precious silverware on the line, Rachael and her teen team mates saw the game out with a 2-0 triumph to seal the double.
“It was pretty tight,” confessed Rachael, “and it was 0-0 at half time. But in the second half we were a bit better and we took the lead 20-minutes from the end then added another before the end.
“I felt I played pretty well and I made two good saves and my distribution was ok as well, so I was pleased.”
In addition to becoming a Hoops hero, Rachael also set her sights on the national squad where she picked up six caps for the Scotland youth sides as well, in a remarkable year.
“I picked up six caps this year and I would actually say getting called up to and playing for the Scotland U17s probably topped off everything for me this year,” she said.
“There is such a big gap from under-16s to under-17s that to get the call for that in such competitive matches was a big compliment and meant a lot to me.”