On last Friday night in the Drum Inn, Clogher, large crowds gathered for the launch of the Aisling McGing Memorial Cup, in memory of the late Carnacon and county ladies footballer, Aisling McGing, Killawalla. For the launch of the Memorial Cup, which was sponsored by the McGing family, the Clogher lounge was adorned with memorabilia from Aisling’s short life. Steering the launch on the road to success was Beatrice Casey, Secretary of the Carnacon Club, who firstly welcomed Karen Keane and Lorraine White from the Cooley Kickhams Club, County Louth, Paul Gannon, Gráinne Mhaols Club Co. Galway, members of Hollymount, The Neale and Castlebar ladies football teams, the local media, officers of the Mayo Ladies Board, members of the local and county clubs, Ita Hannon, Secretary of the Connacht Council, members of the May ladies senior team, officers of the Ballintubber GAA club, Con Moynihan, manager of the Mayo Ladies team, Aisling’s immediate family, Jimmy Teresa Michelle, Sharon, Fiona James and Thomas, the extended McGing and Walsh families and members of the Carnacon ladies team.
She paid glowing tributes to the late Aisling McGing when she said: “I got to know Aisling when she was about eight years of age and we have memories of her as a lady who achieved a lot in her short eighteen years up to the time of her untimely death. She was a talented all round athlete, someone who could turn her hand to anything and who achieved the highest goals in life. Ash, as she was affectionately known, graced the football fields at the tender age of eight. She played with the Carra Community Games team and with her team mates won a total of four All-Ireland finals and she captained the Carra team in 1996.” Beatrice recalled memories of the time Aisling and her team took part in the Féile competitions in Malin Head Donegal where the Kinuary football star entertained both on the football field and afterwards with her fine renditions of her favourite song, “The Wind Beneath My Wings”. Beatrice went on to say: “Aisling was a wonderful person, a wonderful player and a wonderful singer. Tonight we pay tribute to Aisling, her sisters, Fiona, Michelle and Sharon for all the dedication they gave to the Carnacon club and for all the good times we have had which we will cherish dearly.”
Local Parish Priest Fr Jack Garvey, before he imparted his blessing on the cup, said that Aisling was an inspiration to everyone and put everything into the game of football and gelled so well with her team members. Before officially launching the Aisling McGing Memorial Cup, Mayo senior football manager John Maughan said: “Tonight is a night to look forward to a great sporting occasion when people will rejoice in the memories of Aisling McGing.” Paul Gannon from the Gráinne Mhaols club in West Connemara said that Aisling McGing’s strong footballing spirit will live on, every time Carnacon run on to the playing pitch. Cooley Kickham’s representative at the launch, Karen Keane, thanked the Carnacon club and the McGing family for the invitation to take part in the tournament and expressed her sincerest sympathy to the McGing family. She went on to say that she hoped that Cooley would not beat Carnacon by too much in the tournament.
Bernard Comiskey, Chairperson of Mayo Ladies Football County Board, thanked Jimmy Corbett and Beatrice Casey for coming up with such a wonderful initiative to honour Aisling McGing. He urged parents to encourage their children to take part in all types of sporting activities. He went on to say: “Mayo is a good leader in ladies football and success has come liberally.” Jimmy McGing, father of the late Aisling, said: “This is a very special moment for the McGing family. Thanks to the Carnacon club for giving us the opportunity to keep Aisling’s memory alive.” He went on to thank John Maughan, whom he described as a very special friend of Aisling, and the McGing family were honoured that he was present to launch the memorial cup. For the tournament, Hollymount will play Carnacon and The Neale will play Castlebar in the first round and in the semi-final the winners of Hollymount v. Carnacon will play Gráinne Mhaols and the winners of Castlebar v. The Neale will play Cooley Kickhams during the May Bank holiday weekend. As the draw for the tournament took place in the Clogher lounge it was interesting to observe that Hollymount emerged to play Carnacon in the first round, as it was recalled that Aisling’s last game with Carnacon was played in Ballintubber against Hollymount shortly before her untimely death.
Written by Tom Treacy
March 16th 2005
On a personal note, the whole experience in Carnacon that night struck a deep emotional chord ,not least because I had also been privileged to know Aisling’s first cousin, Louise Tynan from Leenane. Louise was a great person and a naturally talented footballer who would undoubtedly have been a star player for Gráinne Mhaols, had she not been so tragically taken from this life, at the tender age of sixteen. Gráinne Mhaols faced the might of Carnacon in the semi-final and it was a complete mismatch. We lost by 6-11 to 0-2 with pride of place going to Brid McDonagh, for carrying out a very commendable marking job on Cora Staunton.
Gráinne Mhaols overcame Clonbur by 3-9 to 0-10, in their first ever league match at intermediate level in April 2005. They remained undefeated for the rest of the league campaign and duly qualified for the final.
A comprehensive quarter final victory over Clonbur saw Grainne Mhaols safely through to a championship semi final against St Marys, Killererin Having led for most of that match they found themselves trailing by 1-14 to 1-12 as the game entered its final moments. Cometh the hour, cometh the woman! I am referring of course to Connemara footballing legend, the vastly experienced Maíre Cloherty, who struck for two opportunistic goals in a minute to steal an unlikely victory from the jaws of defeat. For the North Galway girls, it was a case of déjà vu as Maire had carried out the same feat against them in Carna’s historic 1997 County Junior A League final victory over St Marys.
The 2005 County Intermediate Championship was an all Connemara affair. Gráinne Mhaols dominated the opening half and were full value for their 1-6 to 0-3 half time lead. Disaster struck after the resumption however when they conceded 3-4 without reply in the third quarter. They regained the initiative in the final ten minutes and a brilliant Mairead Coyne goal set up a thrilling finale. The West Connemara girls attacked incessantly but Killannin defended stoutly and held on in the final analysis to win by 3-8 to 2-9. The two sides would meet again in the Intermediate League Final at the end of the year.
Gráinne Mhaols made it all the way to the semi final of the Connacht Open Senior championship in 2005 courtesy of well deserved victories over Dunmore seniors at Cong and Leitrim intermediate outfit, Kiltubrid at Islandeady. They were well beaten however by County Senior Champions, St Brendan’s in the semi final which was played in Headford. A similar fate awaited the West Connemara girls in the semi-final of the West Galway Senior Championship when Clonbur gained a measure of revenge for their two earlier defeats to Gráinne Mhaols at county intermediate level.
Clonbur 0-13, Gráinne Mhaols 0-2 Cailiní an Fhairche, , the first ever winners of the competition in 2002 qualified for the final of the Basil Keogh Cup after they dethroned the reigning Champions with a performance of great passion, commitment and skill. Gráinne Mhaols decision to play against the elements after winning the toss was ultimately to prove a very costly one. Clonbur took full advantage to lead by 0-12 to 0-0 at half time. Midfielders, Karen Burke and Sinead Egan (an All Ireland Minor Winner with Galway this year) dominated the central exchanges during that opening period, kicking seven points between them in the process. They were ably assisted by the outstanding Lorna Joyce up front. She was the tormentor in chief, the architect of Clonbur’s best attacking moves. Her pace, movement and distribution were a joy to behold and although she kicked a number of bad wides, she contributed four points and set up full forward Aoife Joyce for another well taken score.
Gráinne Mhaols employed Tara Flaherty in a sweeping role between the two defensive lines but with only limited success. Tara played well enough as did Michelle Joyce and Tara Staunton in the full backline but the West Connemara Club’s star performer in that first half was left half back Becky Heanue. Time and time again she broke up attacks and delivered good ball into the half forward line but to no avail. Her teammates were really struggling to make any impact up front mainly because Clonbur half backs Caitriona and Aisling Egan were so diligent in their marking duties on Lisa Mc Donagh and Katie Coohill. Maryanna Mc Donagh worked tirelessly for the cause at mid-field but on the day Gráinne Mhaols simply didn’t have enough quality up front to capitalize on all the long deliveries that came from her boot.
The holders were unlucky on 20 minutes not to make a vital break through. Corner forward Marie Cloherty used all her craft and experience to pick out the onrunning Maryanna Mc Donagh with a clever pass. She was only fourteen yards out but instead of going for goal herself she offloaded to Clare Kane who beat the keeper at her near post only to see the ball stick in the mud on the goal line thereby allowing the Clonbur goalie Leanne Flynn an unexpected second chance to clear her lines. Gráinne Mhaols were trailing by six points and a goal at that stage might have altered the course of the match but it wasn’t to be. Incredibly, the exact same scenario repeated itself in the second half when Tara Flaherty who was now operating at full forward picked her spot brilliantly in the corner only to see the ball stick on the goal line for a second time. Katie Coohill and Mairéad Coyne also missed glorious goal opportunities after the resumption and on a day when Mná an Iarthair really needed a bit of good fortune, lady luck chose to completely desert them. The old failings in front of goal also resurrected themselves during that second period with a sequence of poor wides from eminently scoreable positions.
Gráinne Mhaols unlike Clonbur in the first half, were never allowed to dictate or dominate after the break. Clonbur defended superbly, particularly under the high ball with both Jennifer Rock and Aisling Egan very safe and assured in their handling. Sinead Egan, Karen Burke and Lorna Joyce assumed much deeper roles and their ability to win and retain possession used up valuable time and completely frustrated their opponents. Gráinne Mhaols management rang the changes in that second half but apart from one wonderful point on the run from Mairéad Coyne, their cup would remain empty. A pointed free from Maryanna Mc Donagh was their only other score, scant reward for all their hard work and honest endeavour on the day. Helen Lydona excelled at full back throughout the second half as did Maire and Noirin Coyne limiting Clonbur to a solitary pointed free but the damage had already been done in the first half.
Full credit must go to Clonbur after this latest conquest. They were full of confidence going into the match on the back of their Intermediate Relegation Championship Semi-Final victory over Kilkerrin-Clonberne and their Senior League Division 2 victory over Milltown. Gráinne Mhaols in contrast hadn’t played a competitive fixture since their Senior League Division 2 victory over Killkerrin-Clonberne in August and their lack of match practice showed. No amount of training can compensate for a lack of matches and this could yet cost them dearly in this year’s County Intermediate League Final. Only time will tell.
Written by Paul Gannon
Killannin 1-10 Gráinne Mhaols 0-8 Killannin have had to wait twelve years but thankfully they have finally graduated to the holy grail of senior football. After capturing the 2000 Junior A Championship title mná an oirthear struggled to adapt to life at intermediate level. The silverware had been in short supply apart from a West Galway Senior Championship in 2003. The club really needed an injection of energy, vitality and hunger, the kind of qualities that only younger players can bring in abundance. And so it came to pass in 2005 when Christy Fahy, Tom Hynes, Frank Walsh and the rest of the management team managed to blend together a classic combination of youth and experience. This blend has borne fruit in the form of a County Intermediate League and Championship Double with the Stella Mangan County Sevens Championship Title thrown in for good measure.
These two Connemara sides were very evenly matched but Killannin prevailed because they were more clinical in front of goal. They had the edge in experience, physicality and guile. They also had the benefit of an All Star player performing at the very top of her game. She scored 0-6, orchestrated a number of other scores, won huge amounts of possession, distributed unselfishly and displayed great versatility by adapting very successfully to a number of different positions at different times during the course of the match. Mná an Iarthiar were minus their All Star and it cost them dearly on this occasion. They missed her athleticism and powerful physical presence on a day and on a pitch that was always going to favour the more physically powerful easterners. Gráinne Mhaols, despite playing against the elements led by 0-3 to 0-2 at the end of the first quarter but Killannin made a vital breakthrough on 16 minutes when Lisa Halloran finished off a flowing move with a well executed goal. This score inspired Killannin and they remained very much in the ascendancy for the remainder of the half. Crucially, they made this dominance count on the score board and by half time they had built up a commanding seven point lead on a score line of 1-8 to 0-4.
Gráinne Mhaols regrouped at half time and with the wind at their backs at the second half they slowly but surely started to claw their way back into the contest with Kim Young and Geraldine McTavish totally dominant at midfield and Katie Coohill excelling on the right wing. The Killannin rearguard came under incessant pressure and Danielle Lydon punished their defensive indiscipline with a number of well taken frees. With a quarter of the match remaining Killannin led by 1-9 to 0-8 but they were struggling all over the pitch. Gráinne Mhaols were dominating possession but their achilles heel in front of goal came back to haunt them. Between the 45th and 50th minute their forwards missed a potentially matchwinning 2-3 and until such time as the execution matches the creation they will not be ready to join the elite of Galway club football. Sinead Burke’s second point on 52 minutes confirmed Killanin’s overall superiority and only a superb save from Debbie Ruddy, her second of the day, deprived them from extending their lead in the latter stages.
Killannin are well ready and able to play at the highest level in 2006 and if they train hard and build on all their achievements of this year they will be hard beat in next years Senior League and Senior Championship. Gráinne Mhaols were bitterly disappointed at the finish because they knew they had enough opportunities to win the match. They have done remarkably well to reach both County Finals in their very first year at Intermediate level and with twelve of their starting fifteen under the age of eighteen they are perfectly placed to make a big impact at county, provincial and national Intermediate level over the next couple of years. Exciting times ahead for both clubs as ladies football continues to go from strength to strength west of the Corrib. Long may it continue.
Written by Paul Gannon
Grainne Mhaols U16s entertained high hopes of retaining their A championship title but they were comprehensively defeated by a rampant Dunmore side who exacted sweet revenge for their semi final exit to cailini an iarthair, one year previously.
Dunmore McHales 7-10, Gráinne Mhaols 5-4 Funny how things can change so dramatically in such a short space of time. Last year St Brendan’s and Gráinne Mhaols held centre stage at Under 16 level, contesting both county finals and sharing the spoils in the process. Dunmore and Corofin were out of the equation but this year the shoe is well and truly on the other foot. Corofin hammered St Brendan’s by 6-6 to 1-5 in Mountbellew while out west in Killannin, the defending champions were outthought, outfought, outplayed and ultimately outclassed by a side brimming with talent and conviction.
The match was effectively over as a contest at half time when the northerners led by 3-8 to 1-3, having scored 2-4 without a reply in a devastating ten minute spell leading up to the interval. The second half was very much a damage limitation exercise for the Connemara girls who restored some pride but precious little else on a day when Murphy’s Law prevailed. Mid-way through the first half they trailed by 1-6 to 1-3 against the wind and were well in contention. However, they were dealt a real hammer blow when a rare goal-keeping error led to the concession of a penalty which was duly converted by Lucy Hannon. Heads dropped temporarily and Dunmore took full advantage by building up an unassailable half time lead. Centre forward Barbara Hannon was the tormentor in chief and she was ably assisted by the excellent mid-field partnership of her sister Áine and Bridget McDonnell who held the upper hand over Kim Young and Leigh Birchmore for most of the hour.
Gráinne Mhaols improved considerably in the second half and took some impressive scores but crucially every time they came within striking distance, Dunmore was able to respond in kind. On the day, they displayed the greater industry, invention, cohesion and desire. They were up for it more and they wanted it more. Their defence came under sustained pressure during the second half but never yielded with the tenacious Lisa Maloney and Niamh Connaughton particularly effective in the half back line. Dunmore coped better with the greasy underfoot conditions and they were also much more self assured under the thigh ball. It was a bad day at the office for Gráinne Mhaols. They lacked the passion and intensity necessary for championship football and apart from captain Tara Flaherty at full back, wing back Fiona Folan and wing forward Brenda Mulkerrins, the individual performance levels throughout the team were below par. It’s hard to imagine that this was the team that drew with Corofin earlier this year in the league on a scoreline of 7-6 to 6-9. There’s an old saying in Gaelic Football, “You’re only as good as your last match.” Hopefully, this will not be the case next weekend in Oughterard when Gráinne Mhaols will be on the redemption trail against St Brendan’s in the semi-final of the league.
Written by Paul Gannon
Gráinne Mhaols 4-8, St Brendans 1-3 The Dunmore debacle prompted a tough post-mortem on the training ground as management and players alike tried to come to terms with one of the worst ever performances by a Gráinne Mhaols team in recent memory. Sometimes the truth hurts but criticism and the inevitable upset that ensues can sometimes be the only way to deal with a crisis and so it proved to be as last year’s League champions St Brendans were blown away by a black and white backlash of hurricane proportions.
The winners enjoyed wind advantage in the first half and they made it count, courtesy of an unassailable half time lead of fourteen points. Katie Coohill at centre-half forward was the outstanding player on view early on. Her surging runs and superb finishing eased her side into a four point lead after ten minutes. Gráinne Mhaols deep desire to atone for their disastrous exit from the championship was clear from the outset as they tore into their opponents with a fierce intensity. St Brendans full forward Laura Shaughnessy goaled on 13 minutes after capitalizing on a mix up in the Gráinne Mhaols full back line. However, it turned out to be a brief respite for St Brendans as the Connemara girls proceeded to blaze a trail of destruction during the second quarter that yielded 3-4 without reply. The midfield dominance of Kim Young and Leigh Birchmore over county players Aoife Martin and Angela Coleman was the key to the above. Their ball winning ability and excellent distribution brought the best out of their forwards and the inevitable succession of scores followed. Triona Folan (2-1), Danielle Lydon (1-2) and Fionnuala Hannigan (0-2) took their opportunities in clinical fashion and by the time referee Brendan Kinneary blew the half time whistle, St Brendan’s were left with a mountain to climb.
Gráinne Mhaols Management restructured their resources on resumption in an effort to restrain the expected onslaught from the Ballygar-Newbridge girls. Wing forward Brenda Mulkerrins was switched to centre half back, Captain Tara Flaherty was redeployed in a sweeper role between the two defensive lines and corner forward Danielle Lydon moved out to wing forward, leaving just two players inside. Brendans restarted in whirlwind fashion with Sharon Lohan and Alica Collins firing over inside the first two minutes, but it proved to be a false dawn as they would only register one more score thereafter. Their opponents weathered the early storm and inspired by Captain Tara Flaherty, full backs Michelle and Mary Joyce, wing back Fiona Folan and the versatile Danielle Lydon up front, they settled into the task at hand and played some wonderful attacking football into the wind.
The end result was a number of clear-cut but goal scoring opportunities only for their old failings in front of goal to come back to haunt them. This didn’t matter however in the final analysis because on the day St Brendans simply didn’t have enough quality up front to take advantage. Danielle Lydon’s second goal in injury time brought this match to a fitting finale from a Gráinne Mhaols point of view and they deservedly progress to the County A League final for the second year in a row. Their opponents in that final will be either Corofin or Dunmore. They clash next Sunday in the other semi-final, a dress rehearsal for the championship final. Gráinne Mhaols will be wearing the tag of the underdogs but that won’t unduly concern them as they endeavour to capture an historic first ever league title at this level. Can they emulate last December’s achievement in Pearse Stadium? This writer believes they can but it will obviously depend on which Gráinne Mhaols team turns up on the day. The greatness is in the consistency. More of the same please.
Written by Paul Gannon
Westerners League Title Dream Destroyed By Rampant Dunmore Dunmore 5-7, Gráinne Mhaols 3-2 Dunmore’s massive potential at under 16 level over the past two years was finally released with a vengeance in Clonbur last Saturday when they annexed the A league title for the first time ever in a very impressive fashion. The recent Championship final defeat to Corofin and their subsequent league semi-final victory over the same opposition stood to them in good stead as they were sharp, hungry, cohesive and full of running from start to finish. Gráinne Mhaols in contrast never ignited. The spark that is required to win a county final just wasn’t there and the fact that the West Connemara girls were ready to play this final back in October may well have been a contributory factor to what amounted to a mediocre performance by their own high standards. The long lay off definitely had an adverse effect on the level of performance but this cannot detract from the quality of Dunmore’s football on the day. The losers created enough chances to win the game, but on this occasion a Gráinne Mhaols victory would have constituted daylight robbery because the North Galway girls had availed of all their scoring opportunities, their margin of victory would have been even greater.
Dunmore led by 1-2 to 1-1 at the end of the first quarter. Sarah Meehan struck for a well taken goal on fourteen minutes but Danielle Lydon’s predatory instincts in front of goal brought her side right back into it on seventeen minutes when she finished off a Katie Coohill centre soccer style to the back of the Dunmore net. Gráinne Mhaols supporters were hoping that this opportunistic strike would spark a western resurgence but it never materialised. Dunmore was looking very dangerous up front and it was only a matter of time before their neat inter-play in attack yielded the necessary scores. They took a firm grip on proceedings in the second quarter scoring 2-1 without replay and building up a commanding level which they were able to maintain to the finish. The goals came courtesy of Sarah Meehen and Sarah Conneely with elusive wing forward Lucy Hannon adding the point.
Trailing by 3-3 to 1-1 at the interval, Gráinne Mhaols were left with a mountain to climb. Management made a number of positional switches in a bid to regain a foothold in the match. Midfielder Kim Young and Leigh Birchmore were having a battle royale with Áine Hannon and Brigid McDonnell and consequently both sides enjoyed parity in the possession stakes throughout the second half. This was reflected on the scoreboard with Dunmore winning the half by 2-4 to 2-1. Goals from Fionnuala Hannigan and Tara Flaherty at different stages of the half brought Gráinne Mhaols back within striking distance but it was a measure of Dunmore’s superiority on the day that they were able to respond immediately each time with goals of their own.
Gráinne Mhaols won’t begrudge their great rivals this victory as they were far too subdued on the day. Their overall performance was a bit flat and disjointed. They gave the ball away far too cheaply on a number of occasions and their forward division failed to capitalise on a lot of excellent approach play by spurning a number of great scoring opportunities. Their best performances on the day were goalkeeper Becky Heanue who pulled off a number of outstanding saves, centre half back Fiona Folan who did a superb marking job on county star Barbara Hannon, and wing forward Shannon Mullen who belied her tender years with a rousing performance on her championship debut at this level.
Thankfully, redemption is only around the corner and Mna an Iarthair will be on the championship trial again next Saturday when they take on St Brendan’s in the semi-final of the Under-18A Championship. At least ten of the Under-16 team will be in the starting line up in Clonbur and the Connemara girls will be quietly confident of reaching the final for the second year running. Dunmore and Corofin clash in the other semi-final in Milltown. The final is fixed for January 22nd and whether or not it will be played in Connemara remains to be seen.
Written by Paul Gannon
January 12th 2006
At inter county level, Galway seniors bid to retain their All Ireland title failed at the final hurdle when they lost out to Cork. Lisa Coohill who had a difficult year with injury problems was introduced as a substitute in the second half of that All Ireland Final. Mairead Coyne played a key role in Galway’s Connacht Junior championship Final victory over Mayo in McHale Park and Chloe O’Malley also won a Connacht Championship winners medal with the Galway U12s.
Gráinne Mhaols Minors qualified for a second successive A Championship final without kicking a ball after St Brendan’s uncharacteristically awarded them a walkover in the penultimate match. They were ruthlessly dispatched in the decider however, by a superb Corofin team in the final on a scoreline of 5-18 to 2-2. Gráinne Mhaols Under 12s and Under 14s were downgraded to B level for the very first time in 2005. The Under 14s came unstuck against Tuam-Cortoon in their championship encounter in Clifden but the Under 12s made it through to a county final for the first time in four years.
Tuam Stars/Cortoon 5-10, Gráinne Mhaols 2-5 An historic first ever meeting at underage level between these clubs in Clifden on September 25th last and it was the Tuam/Cortoon girls who ensured that their long journey was a worthwhile one when they overcame the spirited challenge of the home side to set up a semi-final showdown with St Michaels. Gráinne Mhaols enjoyed wind advantage in the first half. They dominated possession for long periods, particularly in mid-field, where Kim Young and Katie Coohill were very much in the ascendancy. Much of their approach play was very impressive but a lack of composure in front of goal was to prove very costly. Corner forward Sinéad Salmon and the hard-working Coohill scored excellent goals and full forward Triona Folan fired over two superb long range points on the run but these scores represented an extremely poor return on the numerous opportunities created during the opening period. Their opponents in contrast were clinical in the execution at the other end and took practically every chance that came their way.
Centre half back Maria Connell’s inspirational driving runs out of defence were the launch pad of most of Tuam/Cortoon’s scores. Wing forward Laura Sheehy and full forward Eleanor Donnell were instrumental in most of their teams work up front with the latter finishing emphatically to the net on two occasions. Despite enjoying limited possession during that opening half, the visitors led at the break by 2-3 to 2-3. Mid-fielders Jenny Boyce and Rochelle McIntyre upped their levels of performance considerably in the second half and unlike Gráinne Mhaols in the first half, the Tuam-Cortoon forwards made their dominance count on the scoreboard. Wing forward Joanne Moran really came into her own in the final quarter carrying the ball at great pace through the heart of the westerner’s defence on a number of occasions before finishing in some style.
Gráinne Mhaols defenders Róisín Hennessy and Rebecca Sweeney fought valiantly to stem the red tide as did Brenda Mulkerrins who had been switched to mid-field, but the momentum was with Tuam-Cortoon who only conceded two points during that entire second half. Gráinne Mhaols management introduced County U12 star Chloe O’Malley after the interval but she was given plenty of close attention by Roxanne Meehan and Sarah Corcoran in the Tuam-Cortoon full back line. They were ably assisted by Cathy Kielly whose handling and distribution from between the posts was very assured. Gráinne Mhaols will take heart from the fact that they created so many opportunities and that they are a match for any team down through the middle. They have one league match remaining against St Michaels in Galway, a match they must win to force a three-way playoff for a place in the semi-finals. Tuam-Cortoon also has a date with destiny against the city girls and they will enter the fray in confident frame of mind on the back of a very solid performance out west.
Written by Paul Gannon
Dunmore Mc Hales 3-7, Gráinne Mhaols 2-9 Sport can be cruel sometimes and the pain of defeat can be almost too much to bear, particularly when it is so undeserved. This was a great Under 12 Division 2 Championship Final from start to finish, full of honest endeavour, parochial pride and passion, and plenty of skill. It should have gone to extra time but fate decreed otherwise and when referee Charlie Ward blew his final whistle, it was the green corner who was celebrating.
Dunmore got the breaks on the day, a very soft goal after 14 minutes, a controversial point awarded by the referee after he overruled the umpire’s call and a second goal scored right on the stroke of halftime with literally the last kick of the half. They led by 2-2 to 0-3 at the interval, having enjoyed wind advantage and having also spurned a number of scoring opportunities. One felt that these misses might come back to haunt them after the resumption and so it almost proved to be, as the Connemara girls staged a storming comeback. As the game entered its final few minutes, Gráinne Mhaols were one point ahead and the momentum appeared to be with them. However, Dunmore’s inspirational centre half forward and player of the match, Sara O’Toole, had other ideas. She had led a succession of different markers a merry dance all afternoon and it was no surprise that she was the orchestrator behind Fiona Comer and Edel Burke’s late points which ultimately secured this county title for Dunmore.
The final outcome was rough justice on the Gráinne Mhaols girls who played out of their skins during the second period. They had several top class performers on the day, notably Zara Mortimer and Megan King in the full back line, half backs Rachel Lydon, Deirdre Staunton and Doireann Sheridan and midfielders, Shannon Mullen and Chelsea Kane who had a battle royale with Dunmore’s Aoife Smyth and Nicola Kilgairiff. Shannon Mullen’s goal on 42 minutes levelled the scores at 1-5 to 2-2 but Dunmore responded immediately with a superb individual effort by Sarah O’Toole at the other end. It was point for point after that with Gráinne Mhaols Chloe O’Malley kicking a succession of wonderful scores from all angles. The same player made her class tell on 53 minutes when she soloed through before burying a low hard shot in the corner of the Dunmore net after taking a pass from Dearbhla Casey. Amanda McDonnell and Aoibheann Conneely then combined before setting up the Cleggan stalwart for her seventh point that saw Gráinne Mhaols take the lead for the first time in the match.
Credit to Dunmore, however, who refused to lie down when many teams of lesser character would have capitulated. They quickly regained the initiative to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and thereby complete the first part of a possible league and championship double. This victory will give them great confidence ahead of their Championship semi-final replay against Tuam-Cortoon. Gráinne Mhaols will play St Brendan’s in the other semi=final after their comprehensive quarter final defeat of Killannin. The experience of this titanic struggle against Dunmore might just give Gráinne Mhaols the edge over their great rivals from Ballingar/Newbridge.
Written by Paul Gannon
St Brendans 3-6, Gráinne Mhaols 2-4 Gráinne Mhaols bid to reach two county finals in the same year came unstuck in Oughterard when they were forced to give second best to a well drilled and better balanced St Brendans outfit. The winners led by 2-4 to 0-2 at half-time having enjoyed wind advantage and they were full value for their eight point lead having played much the better football throughout that opening period. They were tight defensively, tenacious in the tackle and full of running and creativity in attack. Karen Conboy was a commanding presence at centre-half back, Niamh O’Rourke lorded it at midfield and wing forwards Hazel Henahan and Jackie Finnegan excelled up front as Gráinne Mhaols struggled to come to terms with the hunger and passion of the northerners. Cailini an Iarthair were playing second fiddle all over the pitch and apart from Chloe O’Malley, scorer of two points, the general performance levels were well below par.
Gráinne Mhaols Management rang the changes at half time in a desperate attempt to turn the tide and slowly but surely the reshuffle began to have the desired effect. Well taken goals from Chloe O’Malley and Amanda McDonnell contributed to reducing the deficit to three points with only ten minutes remaining but Brendans showed admirable resilience in the face of adversity with Aoife McDonagh’s late goal finally putting the seal on a well merited victory. The final outcome could have been so much different however had the West Connemara girls not squandered three great goal chances from point blank range. When the final whistle sounded, Shannon Mullen, Amanda McDonnell and Chloe O’Malley were left to reflect ruefully on what might have been.
It was a much better second half performance from the League finalists with Deirdre Staunton, Doireann Sheridan, Zara Mortimer and Jade Leamy particularly prominent but ultimately they left themselves too much to do and were made to pay the price for their poor first half performance. St Brendans on the other hand can be well satisfied with their hour’s work. They were forced to withdraw from the league earlier in the season due to a lack of numbers and this makes their subsequent achievement of reaching the championship final all the more remarkable. They will provide formidable opposition for league champions Dunmore in the final.
Written by Paul Gannon
2005 ended on the saddest note possible when Gráinne Mhaols LGFA President, Mary Canning passed away.
“In her Presidential address, Mary Canning acknowledged the positive atmosphere at the meeting. She also lauded the ethos of the club and noted that the players seemed to genuinely love playing Gaelic Football. She added that these two vital ingredients outlined above were the key to a happy and successful club and she wished everyone well in the year ahead.”
The above was a typical Mary Canning address, sharp, perceptive, positive and full of affirmation, acknowledgement and encouragement! She was elected to the office of President at the foundation meeting of the CPB Ghráinne Mhaoil in the Marian hall, Tullycross of June 6th 2001. A renowned footballer in her own right during the fifties she was the obvious and only presidential candidate. A woman of great dignity and the highest integrity she was deeply honoured to become the first ever President of the newly formed West Connemara club and she went on to serve the office with great distinction. She took a great interest in all aspects of the club and was very diligent and professional in the carrying out of her official duties. Above all else she was a wonderful influence on all the club members especially the younger players, many of whom stood sadly in a Guard of Honour and applauded her as she made her final journey from Letterfrack Church to Ballinakill Cemetery recently.
‘’Mary, you have left us with so many happy memories, not least your inspirational speech in Letterfrack beside the blazing bonfire a few hours after we were crowned Connacht Junior Champions in Sligo. Your contribution was immense, not only to Gráinne Mhaols Ladies Gaelic Football Club but also to the promotion and development of equality of status and parity of esteem for women in sport. We will have to elect a new president at our next AGM but we will do so with a heavy heart because we all understand that you are irreplaceable. I hope you will guide us wisely in the election of your successor. Keep an eye out for us next year as we endeavour to achieve senior status. I’m sure we’ll be in need of some divine inspiration somewhere along the way and when we enjoy good fortune on the field of play, we will all appreciate, that even in your absence, you can still make a difference.
Thanks, Mary, for making a difference. We will never forget you.’’
Written by Paul Gannon
The 2005 Annual General Meeting was held in the Marian Hall, Tullycross on February 1st 2006. Chairperson, Mary Young, submitted the following report; ‘’From my perspective, 2005 was a funny year. We had a tremendously successful 2004 trophywise which was always going to be hard to emulate and this season we were challenging strongly again, at both A and B level in underage and at intermediate level in adult. However, whilst we weren’t ultimately successful on any of these fronts it was far from a wasted season and of course well done to the adult team on retaining the West Galway Senior L eague and also on reaching the semi final of the Connacht Open Senior Championship. Our biggest challenge going forward is to cultivate the youth teams as our foundation for the future. We need to continue to put the necessary building blocks in place in this regard. Last year’s U12 and U14 squad sessions were generally well attended and we need to maintain this momentum going forward. The commitment and skill required to go senior is huge and whilst we nearly made it by reaching two finals, it was not to be, but I don’t think we should feel in any way downheartened by this because I don’t think promotion at this stage would be somewhat premature. Those of us who were at the County Minor A final last Sunday would have seen the gap between ourselves and Corofin, not in our ability but in our general teamwork, spatial awareness, off the ball running and fitness, all of which we are really going to have to work on if we want to go senior. Lastly, I would appeal to some of the older players to give a commitment to help in the coaching of some of the younger teams. We need your help and we also need some new recruits on our Executive Committee and in that regard, I would be delighted to vacate the chair at this stage as new people coming in have new ideas and new enthusiasms to bring with them. Thanks for all the support from both players and friends over the season, there were some great memories and here’s to a great year in 2006.’’
In his secretarial/managerial report which followed Paul Gannon acknowledged that if reaching a number of county finals is the ultimate indicator of success, then without doubt, 2005 had been a very successful season. He added however that if the players were to be truly honest in their self analysis, then they would surely concede that the previous year fell way short of what it should have been mainly because of an overly complacent attitude towards training. In his opinion the level of commitment given by the vast majority of players fell well short of what is required to bring the club to the next level. ‘’Increased fitness levels should be your obsessive focus for 2006’’, he stated directly to the intermediate players in attendance. He further acknowledged that skill levels were very much in need of refining, particularly re point scoring and ball carrying at pace. He highlighted the performance of the Corofin Minors who had set the bar very high. ‘’ We have to try and emulate their all round level of performance,’’ he stressed ‘’and we have the raw material to do it if we want it badly enough’’. He admitted that management had made some costly errors throughout the 2005 campaign and added that ‘’we must endeavour to learn from same in order to improve their own level of performance on the sideline’’. He congradulated outgoing Captain, Geraldine McTavish and the superb job that she did for the team during her three and a half years in the role. In conclusion, the Secretary thanked the Executive for all its hard work, honest endeavour and notable achievements in 2005 and he paid special tribute to recently deceased Mary Canning on her enormous contribution Grainne Mhaols LGFA as Honorary President.
Lyn Heanue’s Financial report followed and her Annual Balance Sheet was ratified without any matters arising. The Election of Officers, OCMs and Management teams followed;
The 2005 Annual General Meeting of the West Galway Ladies Development Association was held recently in the Lake Hotel, Oughterard. Chairperson Walter Butler extended a special welcome to newly formed clubs, An Cheathrú Rua and Michael Breathnachs. The following Development Committee was elected to administer the various competitions- Chairperson:Walter Butler (Killannin) Vice-Chairperson: Martina Cummins (St.Michaels) Secretary: Paul Gannon (Gráinne Mhaols)
It was agreed that the following seven clubs would participate in the Senior League and Shield competition; Killannin A, Gráinne Mhaols A, Leitir Mór, St. Michaels, Barna, An Spidéal and Na Piarsaigh. The top two teams will meet in the Senior League final with the next four teams (third to sixth) going into Senior Shield semi-finals. It was agreed that the following eight clubs would participate in the Junior League;Éire Óg, Killannin B, Michael Breathnachs, Gráinne Mhaols B, Oileáin Árainn, An Cheathrú Rua, Salthill and Moycullen. The top four teams will qualify for semi-finals. The draws for the respective championships followed;
The West Galway competitions are developmental in character and are not official County Board competitions. Permission to run these competitions was first granted by Galway Ladies Football Board four years ago with Clonbur defeating Killannin in the West Galway Senior Championship Final on March 18th 2002. Ladies football has gone from strength to strength in West Galway in the intervening period. Five clubs participated in the first ever Senior Championship in 2002. There are now fifteen clubs in West Galway.
Written by Paul Gannon