Celtic superfan Jay Beatty makes his move to secondary school
CELTIC superfan Jay Beatty traded in his green and white hoop jersey for a maroon blazer yesterday as he took his first steps into secondary education.
The Co Armagh student (12) was one of the many excited faces at St Ronan's College in Lurgan embarking upon their first day and the former Tannaghmore Primary School student had a beaming smile for the occasion.
Mother Aine admitted it was an emotional day in the Beatty household as Jay, who has Down's Syndrome, started a mainstream secondary after special needs provision was secured to meet his needs at the school.
"I am very focused on keeping him within his community," she said.
"Really for social reasons for Jay as he is well-known and I know the people of the community will look out for him, which makes all the difference for me knowing he'll be safe in his environment in school. I think when you have children with special needs you have to fight that wee bit harder for things, nothing really comes natural with it and I've learned to do that over the years,"
The Lurgan youngster first came to the public's attention when former Celtic player Georgios Samaras plucked him from the crowd at Celtic Park and donated his league winners' medal in 2014.
Since then Jay has become one of the club's most recognisable fans and famously scooped the Scottish league's goal of the month award in January 2015 for a penalty he scored in a half-time competition.
The football mad student regularly attends matches and is a Celtic Foundation ambassador so naturally the excitement of starting school paled in comparison to a 60,000 sell-out in Glasgow.
"If it was a football or a Celtic school he would be over the moon, but because it's school he's like 'yea I'm going'," his mum joked.
"He's very laid back about it, but deep down he does miss school with his friends, he loves being in with his friends, he loves that environment.
"He is looking forward to it, but he's just football obsessed and that's all he thinks about. When anyone asks him about it he just says 'I'm very confident, it's the right place for me'," she added.
Jay attended school from 1pm to 3pm yesterday and from today will be a full-time student at St Ronan's. He was joined in Year 8 by friend Zara, who also lives with Down's syndrome.