There was a large and enthusiastic attendance at the 2006 AGM of the West Galway Ladies Football Development Association which was hosted by the Killannin Club in Kinneavys in Roscahill. The following officiers were elected on the night:
There were seven adult competitions down for decision in 2006. Killannin defeated Gráinne Mhaols in the Senior League final by 1-12 to 2-5 but the outstanding match of the year was the Intermediate Championship final between St.Michaels and Bearna which yielded an incredible harvest of scores. Extra time the first day failed to separate the sides (Bearna 5-18 St Michaels 6-15) but it was the westsiders who prevailed on the replay. St Michaels went on to annex the Senior Shield title with a narrow victory over Leitir Mór. A number of Leitir Mór girls will line out with Mná Chonamara later on this Spring in the Senior Championship final against either Mná na Cathrach or Killannin.
Moycullen captured the Junior League title with a comprehensive victory over Éire Óg. The East Connemara club will be hoping to achieve a notable double by beating Gráinne Mhaols second team in the Championship final. This particular match will most likely be part of a double header with the Senior Championship final. Gráinne Mhaols will also be hoping for double honours as they look forward to the Junior Shield final against Michael Breathnachs. The Gaeltacht side will be hoping to create their own piece of history by winning their first ever competition as they enter only their second year of adult football. Adverse weather conditions either side of Christmas rendered it impossible to conclude the above competitions within the calendar year.
The most significant decision taken on the night was in relation to Underage football. Delegates voted unanimously to initiate U-11, U-13, U-15 and U-17 competitions in 2007. It was agreed that the U-11 and U-13 would be 11 a-side. Killannin’s Richie Bohan was complemented on his organising of the inaugural U-14 Feile competition in 2006 and it was further agreed that these two competitions would be retained in the year ahead. The importance of training in new referees was also discussed at length and Vice-Chairperson Martina Cummins agreed to organise a referees’ course for the participating clubs before the end of March. Fixtures Secretary Paul Gannon presented delegates with the Masters Fixtures Plan for the Senior and Junior Leagues and Shields.
Written by Paul Gannon.
Gráinne Mhaols Juniors did eventually get to play the 2006 West Galway Junior Championship Final during the early part of 2007. It turned out to be a bad day at the office however as they were outclassed in Oughterard by a rejuvenated Moycullen. Their ensuing West Galway Junior League Shield Final against Michael Breathnachs was a much tighter affair but also ended in defeat for Melissa Wallace and Lucy Lydon’s charges. In February, a mixture of juniors and seniors travelled to Bundoran for a social weekend with a bit of preseason football thrown in, namely, the Brian McEniff Invitational Annual Tournament. The other participating teams were Bryansford (Down) and Finglas Gaels (Dublin). The Mournewomen took the honours with Lisa Coohill winning the Player of the Tournament. Grainne Mhaols LGFA embarked on a number of maiden voyages re perennial challenge of fundraising at the commencement of the 2007 season. On March 13th, I penned the following letter for circulation to all the schools in the club’s catchment region.
I’m writing to you to enlist your support in a fundraising venture being undertaken jointly by Gráinne Mhaols LGFA Club and Na Fianna Rua Olympic Handball Club. I have been actively involved in the promotion and development of both gaelic football and olympic handball in the West Connemara primary schools for many years as an administrator, organiser, co-ordinator, coach and referee. It is hard work which is very time consuming but ultimately very rewarding. One of the most satisfying aspects of this developmental work over the years has been the emergence of girls in sport throughout the region. They now enjoy parity of esteem and equality of status with the boys in all our primary school competitions.
Na Fianna Rua and Gráinne Mhaols provide valuable sporting outlets for our primary school pupils. Na Fianna Rua organise a special handball competition (outside school hours) each year for the primary schools and the club also participates in the All-Ireland U-12 Leagues. Gráinne Mhaols field teams at U-11 and U-12 level in County and West Galway competitions. Both clubs also offer continuity of participation to our children after they move on to second level education. Our administrators and coaches are very committed and dedicated to their work and both clubs have enjoyed a fair measure of success on the football fields and the handball courts over the years.
Finance, however, is a perennial problem not least because of our peripheral western location. Our transport costs are enormous and annual administrative costs such as registration, affiliation and public liability insurance are on the increase with every passing year. “Who Wants To Be A Thousandaire” is an attempt to give both clubs a measure of long term financial security so that they can continue their work in a developmental and progressive manner. We are determined that the immense sporting potential in our region will not be compromised or hindered by financial constraints or burdens.
I’ve enclosed all the relevant details re our fundraiser. I don’t expect any school to take out an advertisement, but I am hoping that you will consider sending on a donation. All donations are greatly appreciated and will be acknowledged both on our advertising screens on the night and in the May issue of Connemara View. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
Yours in Sport
Paul Gannon Olympic Handball Club
Secretary of Gráinne Mhaols Ladies Gaelic Football Club
Secretary of Na Fianna Rua
On March 20th, the following communiqué, written by Paul Gannon, was circulated to all the parents of the club’s juveniles
“On behalf of the Executive Committee of CPB Ghráinne Mhaoil, I am writing to you to enlist your support in our new fundraising initiative for 2007. Next year will be our busiest and most expensive year yet re underage football. Gráinne Mhaols will play at U-12, U-14, U-16 and U-18 level in County League and Championship. We will also field teams at U-11, U-13, U-15 and U-17 level in the West Galway Development Leagues and Championships. The underage players are the life blood of the club and we are determined to ensure that they are looked after in the best possible manner. However we need to have a secure annual income to make this aspiration a reality. If you become part of our new fundraising venture you will be playing a key role in empowering your local club to deliver the best possible service to your daughter. Membership costs €120 for the year (€10 a month). This membership fee can be paid up front at the start of the year or alternatively by direct debit through the bank each month.
The monthly draw will be held live on Connemara Community Radio’s Talk Sport Programme. Numbers will be drawn and the lucky winners will each receive €100.
Please support your local club by investing in your daughter’s footballing future. Join the Gráinne Mhaol Monthly Draw and rest assured that our Executive Committee and Management Teams will work diligently all year on your daughter’s behalf. The club reached a new milestone in 2006 when we achieved Senior League status for 2007 after a comprehensive victory over Milltown in the Intermediate League Final. Next year we will be going all out to win the Intermediate Championship so that we can play both Senior Championship and Senior League in 2008. Hopefully your daughter will play senior football for Gráinne Mhaols in years to come.”]
The Club Executive also opted for participation in the Gaelic Telecom initiative and in this regard, a number of private households and locally based commercial businesses kindly agreed to switch their allegiance for the purpose of diverting a percentage of their bill to their local LGFA club.
Gráinne Mhaols 4-7 Dunmore McHales 3-10 It was honours even on an historic day at The Plantation in Carna on Sunday last when the Sweeney Oil Sponsored senior novices from West Connemara pulled out all the stops to earn their first ever league point at their highest level of football. An idyllic setting and perfect weather conditions set the scene for a cracking contest between two fiercely competitive and committed teams who gave their all from start to finish under the watchful eye of Spiddal referee Jerome Henry who also impressed on his senior debut.
This was a game that Gráinne Mhaols should have won yet could so easily have lost in the final analysis. Their achilles heel in front of goal came back to haunt them once again and until such time as the execution matches the creation they will continue to frustrate and exasperate their management and supporters alike. Nine wides in the first half compared to Dunmore’s one tells its own story. Gráinne Mhaols were also naive in some of their decision-making while in possession but this is to be expected as they begin their apprenticeship at the top level. Their more experienced opponents in contrast were much more efficient and economic throughout this opening period with the predatory instincts and finishing prowess of Barbara Hannon(3) and Áine Hannon (2) a joy to behold. The latter also converted a 22nd minute penalty at the second attempt after Gráinne Mhaols custodian Becky Heanue pulled off a wonderful save off the placed ball.
Gráinne Mhaols response came in the form of a Lisa Coohill point and an opportunist goal by full forward Mairéad Coyne who found the back of the net after running on to a pass from Lorraine Heffernan. The West Connemara girls displayed tremendous defensive endeavour with centre half back Bríd McDonagh and wing backs Fiona Folan and Fionnula Hannigan-Dunkley getting through a trojan amount of work. This trio were also the launch pad for many Gráinne Mhaols attacks throughout the first half. Behind them, the full back line of Tara Flaherty, Tara Staunton and Máire Coyne were tight and tenacious in the tackle and calm and composed in the distribution. All over the field John Francis Flaherty’s charges chased and harried their opponents all day long, hunting in packs, helping each other out when in difficulty and executing a number of spectacular blocks and dispossessions in the process.
There was outstanding quality on display in midfield with county seniors Geraldine Conneely and Lisa Coohill in tremendous form. Gráinne Mhaols county Under 16 star Kim Young was also very much to the fore as was her opposite number Annie Connaughton. Up front, half forwards Katie Coohill and Mary Ann McDonagh were full of creativity and invention in their movement and distribution for the home side. Errant shooting cost them dearly however and by half time they found themselves four points in arrears despite enjoying a multitude of possession and creating numerous scoring opportunities.
Dunmore lead by 1-5 to 1-1 at the interval but on the resumption parity was restored inside the first two minutes. A quick fire point by Mary Ann McDonagh was followed by a confident low finish from Mairéad Coyne after Lisa Coohill’s quick free caught the Dunmore full back line napping. Dunmore responded with a Geraldine Conneely free but the momentum was with Mná an Iarthair and three minutes later Lisa Coohill crashed home an unstoppable angled drive to the roof of the net after running on to a quick free from Mary Ann McDonagh. Geraldine Conneely and Mairead Coyne traded points before Lisa Coohill added two further long range points on 45 and 48 minutes respectively to extend the westerners’ lead to four points
However, a resilient Dunmore refused to be rattled. Áine Hannon fired over a real beauty from an acute angle and moments later her sister Barbara reduced the deficit to two points with a close in free. Gráinne Mhaols now lead by 3-5 to 1-9 and regained the initiative courtesy of a magnificent long range free by Mairéad Coyne and a cool finish on the run by Katie Coohill. Disaster struck however on 54 minutes when Dunmore full forward Natalie Moloney capitalised on a defensive error to give her side a lifeline with a well taken goal. Two minutes later indiscipline re the referee cost the home side dearly in the form of a converted free by Barbara Hannon. The time was almost up and with both sides inseparable at 3-7 to 2-10 one sensed that one more score for either side would surely be enough to steal the points.
On the stroke of full time a sublime pass by Fionnuala Hannigan-Dunkley picked out Mairéad Coyne deep inside the defensive cover and she duly completed her hat trick with an emphatic finish. It appeared to be rough justice on Dunmore defenders Lisa Moloney, Niamh Moloney, Sarah Conneally and Deirdre Fallon who had been outstanding throughout the second half but with the final whistle imminent their team mates further up the field launched one final assault on enemy lines. The home side appeared to be safe after Becky Heanue blocked Áine Hannon’s initial shot. However, Becky’s subsequent attempted clearance was also blocked and in the ensuing melee Dunmore corner forward Sandra Byrne was in the right place at the right time to find the back of the net soccer style and secure her side a precious league point in the process.
After the final whistle it was smiles and handshakes all round and the satisfaction of being a privileged participant in what was a feast of free flowing and high quality football. These are the days that keep us going, the days we will always hold dear in our hearts and remember with great fondness in years to come. Well done to both teams on such an exciting and entertaining exhibition.
Written by Paul Gannon.
Corofin 2-9 Gráinne Mhaols 0-3 This was the acid test, a joust with the reigning county champions and even though the comprehensive margin of victory is indicative of a facile success for the North Galway girls nothing could be further from the truth. Gráinne Mhaols matched their opponents in terms of fitness, in the physical exchanges and in the possession and territorial stakes but crucially not up front when Corofin’s ability to capitalize on chances created and to punish defensive errors by the home side, set them apart.
In short there is no substitute for class and Corofin have it in abundance particularly in the last third of the field. They enjoyed wind advantage in the opening half and used it to good effect building up a substantial lead in the process. Gráinne Mhaols trailed by 1-7 to 0-1 at the interval and needed a few early scores on the resumption to ignite their challenge. They dominated the third quarter in terms of possession but lady luck deserted them in front of goal in the form of two glorious goal opportunities being spurned and the double intervention of the crossbar. With ten minutes remaining Corofin scored a superb second goal when a lightening counter attack involving no less than eight different players culminated in a close range finish by impressive full forward Mary Hanley who led the line superbly from start to finish.
This was a massive learning curve for the West Connemara girls and while they are entitled to take a lot of positives from the overall level of performance they will be the first to admit that a huge improvement is needed up front if they are to annex this year’s County Intermediate Championship. The quest to develop scoring forwards is indeed a perennial one and in this regard Corofin are definitely the envy of all other clubs in the county at this moment in time.
Written by Paul Gannon
Níl aon dabht ach gur thug mná óga club Ghrainne Mhaoil dúshlán tharr barr do Anach Cuan a bhí ina gcuairteoirí. Níor chabhraigh coinníollacha aimsir ar an lá. Ba é seo an chéad cluiche don bhliain ag cailiní Ghrainne Mhaoil. Throid an foireann baile do gach liathróid a bhí said in ann agus is minic nach raibh morán idir an dá fhoireann ag am ar bith. D’imir na culaí thar barr agus bhi brú orthu sach minic.Ag leath amá ni raibh idir na dá fhoireann ach dhá phointe agus an ghaoth ag seideadh nios laidre sa dara leath. Sa dara leath bronnadh dhá chic píonois ar Ghrainne Mhaoil, níor eirigh leo ach scór a fháil as ceann acu ach mar sín fhéin ní raibh said chun tabhairt suas fós. Le linn an dara leath chuir Eanach Cuan cupla buaileadh ar fóraoil ach fuair said cupla cuiliní freisin. D’eirigh le Grainne Mhaoil cupla cuiliní a fhail frerisin ach ni raibh an t- ádh le mná an iarthar ar an lá. Fuair Anach Cuan an lamh in uachtar le dhá chuiliní.
Grainne Mhaoil 15-7 Killanin 0-1
Is cluiche eile a bhi anseo go Ghrainne Mhaoil. Bhí said beagánín díomach tar éis a gcluiche deireadh in aghaidh Anach Cuan, ach bhí said dóchasach aguc choinnigh siad a structúr. Thosaigh an cluiche agus ní raibh ach cúpla noiméad imigh nuair a bhi cúl aimsithe ag Chloe Ní Mháille, ba é seo an chéad ceann de seacht gcúl a fuair sí I rith an cluiche. Bhí sé soileír sa gcéad cúpla nóiméad gur ag Grainne Mhaoil a bhí smacht ar an gcluiche. Ní raibh an liathróid ag dul thar lar páirce agus is cúil uilig a bhí a scoráil ag mná an iarthar. Bhí scór de 13:7 in aghaidh 0:0 ag leath amá ann. Sa dara leath chuir Gráinne Mhaols tuilleadh leis go dtí gur chríochnaigh sé ag 15:7 in aghaidh 0:1. Níor thug Killanin suas ag aon am tríd an chluiche ach is léir go raibh mná Ghrainne Mhaoil níos láidre agus níos fearr an babhta seo.
Scriofa ag Brid Nic Dhonnacha
For the second running, Grainne Mhaols were drawn against Naomh Anna, Leitir Moir at the quarter final stage of the County Intermediate Championship. The match was played in Carna and this time the margin of victory was far greater for the hosts than in the preceding year’s encounter. This comprehensive victory set Grainne Mhaols on a collision course with the reigning Connacht Junior Champions, Tuam-Cortoon who had been installed as firm favourites to annex the county intermediate crown. The match was played in Inverin and Grainne Mhaols made a complete mockery of their unwarranted underdog status on the day by putting in a superb performance which fully justified their seven point winning margin on a final scoreline of 2-7 to 0-6. Hopes were high that a repeat scenario would unfold in the ensuing county final but a blistering start only proved to be a false dawn as the wheels came off in catastrophic fashion in the final quarter.
Corofin, Caherlistrane and Milltown Ladies football teams were all celebrating on September 9th after impressive victories in a triple-header of championship finals in Monivea. In the senior game, reigning champions Corofin proved too strong for the Killannin ladies and with a 2-7 to 0-6 lead at half time, they added another 1-9 to Killannin’s three point in the second half to run out easy winners in the end. The final score was Corofin 3-16, Killannin 0-9. Player of the match went to Corofin’s Sheila Fitzgerald. Killannin scorers: Niamh Fahy (0-7), Sineád Burke (0-2). Corofin scorers: Michelle Glynn (0-1), Sheila Fitzgerald (0-3), Maria Morris (0-1), Lisa Leonard (1-5), Diana Murphy (0-1), Sarah Cosgrove (2-5).
There were goals galore in the intermediate final between Gráinne Mhaols and Caherlistrane. Gráinne Mhaols got off to a dream start with two goals in the first five minutes and they went in at the break with a one-goal advantage, 3-5 to 2-5. Early in the second half, Helen McHugh equalised and after fifty minutes, there was nothing between the sides. Caherlistrane showed the better staying power, however, and scored 5-1 to Gráinne Mhaols’ single point in the last ten minutes to leave the full score time score, Caherlistrane 8-7, Gráinne Mhaols 3-9. Player of the match went to Caherlistrane’s Gráinne Ní Fhlatharta. Caherlistrane scorers: Sarah Murphy (2-0), Gillian O’Connor (1-0), Helen McHugh (2-6), Johanna Greaney (1-0), Ann McHeir (1-0), Louise Reilly (1-1). Gráinne Mhaols scorers: Lisa Coohill (1-3), Katie Coohill (1-1), Lisa McDonagh (1-1), Mairéad Coyne (0-3), Geraldine McTavish (0-1).
Written by Peter Clarke
September 14th 2007
The fabulous twin setting of Naomh Mearnóg and St. Sylvesters GAA Clubs in Malahide was the venue for this years All Ireland Ladies Sevens and it proved to be a day to remember for a host of Galway clubs. In the Senior competition Corofin topped their group with victories over Bredagh (Down), Ardtrea (Derry), Aodh Ruadh (Tyrone) and Seneschalstown (Meath). They qualified for a championship semi-final showdown with Dublin outfit Naomh Mearnóg and after a titanic struggle it was the North Galway girls who prevailed by the narrowest of margins to set up a rematch of their 2003 All-Ireland Final encounter with Ballymacarbery (Waterford). History did not repeat itself on this occasion however as the Deise girls made amends for the disappointment of losing that final by pulling away after the resumption to secure a comfortable eight point victory.
Tuam-Cortoon emulated Corofin’s achievement in their Intermediate competition. They topped their group with impressive victories over Ballymore (Longford), Cappawhite (Tipperary), Emyvale (Monaghan) and Killmacud Crokes (Dublin). Brian Borus (Tipperary) were put to the sword in the Championship Quarter final and an Edel Concannon goal with literally the last kick of a pulsating semi-final against Royal Gaels (Meath) assured them of a place in their first ever All-Ireland Final. Fatigue was probably the major factor in their inability to carve out an historic All-Ireland victory in the sense that unlike their Derry opponents they were obliged to play a quarter final. Glen were attending the Sevens for the tenth consecutive year and their accumulated experience over this long period of time was pivotal to their eventual seven point winning margin after a hugely entertaining spectacle.
Gráinne Mhaols also fell to Glen in the group stages of the Intermediate competition but comprehensive victories over Kildorrey (Cork), Ballyhegan (Armagh) and Naomh Martin (Louth) secured them a second place finish and qualification for a Shield semi-final encounter with Faughenvale (Derry). Their best performance of the day saw them qualify for their first ever All-Ireland Final with St Fortcherns (Carlow) standing in their way. The sides were level with five minutes left on the clock but in stark contrast to this years County Intermediate Championship Final when they fell apart against Caherlistrane, the West Connemara girls displayed the necessary self-belief and hunger late on and subsequently emerged victorious courtesy of three unanswered goals from the outstanding Mairéad Coyne.
Newly crowned County Junior A Champions Milltown displayed tremendous form all through to retain their Junior Sevens title. In the group stages they disposed of Erins Owen (Cork), Foxrock Cabinteely (Dublin), Latton (Monaghan) and Moyle Rovers (Tipperary). Ballyna (Tipperary) were brushed aside in the semi-final and Milltown’s emphatic five goal winning margin in the All-Ireland Final against Clan na Gael Fontenoy (Dublin) was indicative of a side who have really mastered the developed art of seven a side football in recent years.
St.Brendans (Senior) and Clarinbridge (Junior) also represented Galway with great distinction on the day but this writer’s final tribute goes to Claregalway who made up for the disappointment of losing an All-Ireland Féile semi-final in Leitrim earlier this year by winning the inaugural Under 14 Sevens All-Ireland title out in Kilmacud Crokes.
Written by Paul Gannon.
Connemara View, October 2007
On November 15th 2007, I posted the following letter to the powers that be at the Ladies Gaelic Football Association Headquarters in Croke Park.
“I feel compelled to nominate Bríd McDonagh for Club Person of the Year because she plays such a pivotal role in the affairs of her club, on so many different levels. She is Club Captain and leads by example on the field of play where she is committed, hardworking, honest and brave in her footballing endeavours at full back. Bríd always gives one hundred per cent, in disciplined fashion, regardless of the nature of the competition or the situation on the scoreboard. She is the most punctual player in the club re training and attended every single session between January and October in 2007. Her maturity, application and diligence at training hasn’t gone unnoticed and she is always looking to improve and develop her footballing skills.
Bríd is acutely aware of the importance of developing and maintaining a vibrant underage structure within the club and hasn’t shirked her responsibilities in this regard. In 2007 she was part of the management of the club’s Under 11, Under 12, Under 13 and Under 14 teams and every week she gave of her time selflessly, in order to train and coach these young girls. She was also an ever-present on the sideline for all their competitive matches both in the Official County League and Championship and also in the West Galway Developmental competitions.
Last May Bríd attended a Referees Seminar organised by the West Galway Ladies Football Development Association. She has subsequently refereed many underage matches at various locations in Connemara during the year. As Secretary of the West Galway Ladies Football Development Association, I am particularly grateful to Bríd for becoming an Official Referee. Her refereeing style is firm but fair. Her communication skills and knowledge of the playing rules are excellent and she has great rapport with the young girls under her care. She will ultimately develop into a highly accomplished referee, with the benefit of accumulated experience. She is also one of Gráinne Mhaols four nominated delegates and has represented the club at a number of County Board meetings during 2007.
Bríd is a very active and dynamic member of the Executive Committee of CPB Ghráinne Mhaoil. In 2007 we embarked on a number of key fundraising initiatives as part of an overall strategic plan to put the club on a sound financial footing for the foreseeable future. There were three major projects undertaken, Gaelic Telecom, A Monthly Draw and The West Connemara Singles and Doubles Darts Championship . Bríd was a huge driving force in the implementation of all the above. She persuaded a number of her friends and neighbours to change over to Gaelic Telecom, she secured four memberships for the Monthly Draw from her own family and she secured many spot prizes for raffles which she herself subsequently carried out at no fewer than five of the Darts heats .Brid was also in attendance at the West Connemara Grand Singles Final, where she presented the finalists with their crystal trophies.
Bríd McDonagh is the epitomy of what being part of a club should be all about. Players can be a fickle enough bunch at the best of times and self interest and selfishness can all too often be the order of the day. Bríd is the kind of club person who gives Managers, Coaches and Administrators like myself, the will to carry on, because she is so selfless, so respectful, so appreciative and above all so proud of everything that her club stands for and represents within her local community. She is an outstanding role model for both present and future generations of Gráinne Mhaols footballers.”
Claregalway’s Mary Conlon Wins Inaugural VHI Healthcare Ladies Football Club Person Of The Year Award
Mary Conlon of the Claregalway club just outside Galway city received the inaugural VHI Healthcare Ladies Football Club Person of the Year Award at a ceremony in Croke Park today. The VHI Healthcare Club Person of the Year Award recognises and celebrates the contributions of club individuals who have had an extraordinary impact on their club. Conlon was singled out from over 100 individual nominations posted on the Ladies Gaelic website, www.ladiesgaelic.ie over the past four weeks. The Claregalway Ladies Football Club Secretary plays a pivotal role in every aspect of club’s activities from fixture and pitch management to fundraising and first aid.
Claregalway Ladies Football Club was founded in 2003 and since Conlon joined the club in 2005, she has become an instrumental figure in the success and burgeoning talent of this young club. Conlon has seamlessly combined the roles of representative to the county board, fundraiser, team organiser, fixtures secretary, membership officer, media liaison and confidant to become a central figure not just in the club but in the wider community. Geraldine Giles Uactaran Peil Gael na mBan, paid tribute to Conlon’s selfless contribution to the Galway club, saying, “Mary Conlon represents all that is good about the amateur ethos of Gaelic games and the sense of community that our games promote across the country. Many clubs would be envious of such a devoted club person and although there are many like her around the country, she is a deserved recipient of the inaugural VHI Healthcare Ladies Football Club Person of the Year Award.”
Speaking at the announcement of the first VHI Healthcare Club Person of the Year winner, Declan Moran, Director of Marketing & Product Development, Vhi Healthcare, commented, “There are numerous unsung heroes in clubs nationwide, who invest huge time and effort in promoting Ladies Gaelic Football and play a pivotal role in the success of their clubs. In addition to our sponsorship of the Club Championship, VHI Healthcare wanted to recognise the contribution made by these individuals and in association with Cumann Peil Gael na mBan, invited clubs to nominate the person that they felt most deserved this award. Today’s winner was recognised for her commitment and dedication to her club. I would like to congratulate Mary and wish her every success in the future.”
LFGA Official Website
December 4th 2007
Ladies Gaelic football in Connacht is entering a new exciting era where inclusiveness, enjoyment and football for all will sustain it into the future.That was the message delivered at the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris on Thursday evening last when Cumann Peil Connacht na mBan launched its Strategic Plan entitled ‘Making Ladies Gaelic Football Accessible to All’’. The plan, the first of its kind in the province, was launched by Geraldine Giles, President Cumann Peil Gael mBan, before a large and enthusiastic attendance.Indeed “enthusiasm” was the word which best encapsulated the whole evening as delegates and speakers looked to the future with great anticipation. Ms Giles congratulated all involved in the preparation and production of the new plan and assured everyone that Central Council would support the western province in bringing the initiative to fruition.
The plan was compiled following a widespread consultation process involving all those associated with ladies Gaelic football in Connacht – players, parents, county boards, officials, coaches, referees, schools, universities and the GAA. The three-year plan focuses on key areas such as coaching, games development, competition, administration and refereeing. Connaught Council President, Mary Quinn explained that the plan was a guide which was capable of taking Connacht ladies football into a bright future .She said: “This plan gives our players the opportunity to be the best they can be. It gives every young girl in the province the opportunity to enjoy playing football. The plan is like a glowing light that will lead us and energise us to make ladies football in the province more accessible to all.”
Mary Beades, Games Development Officer in Connacht, then outlined the plan and explained that she will be responsible for liaising with the provincial council, county boards and clubs in its implementation.
November 16th 2007
Gráinne Mhaols 4-7 Mná na Cathrach 4-6 History was made on Bearna GAA pitch on Sunday November 25th last, when a “Mna na Cathrach” team comprising of players from six city Clubs played Gráinne Mhaols in the West Galway Senior Championship round robin series. Girls from Bearna, Eire Og, Renmore, Salthill, St Michaels and Moycullen had their first taste of senior championship football, and even though they lost out by the narrowest of margins on the score board, this was an experience a lot of them will never forget. The brainchild of West Galway Ladies Football Development Association Secretary Paul Gannon, the nineteen ladies that lined out on Sunday certainly looked the business in their new Sports Kit Ireland sponsored all maroon strip. Playing against a slight breeze in the first half, the city girls were understandably slow to settle in this their first assignment. However a goal by Renmore’s Aoife Kelly just before half time settled the city girls and closed the deficit to two points at eline of Gráinne Mhaols 2-4, Mná na Cathrach 1-5.
The second period was a half of intense championship type football between two evenly matched sides, with the teams level at 4-6 apiece coming up to full time. However the more experienced Gráinne Mhaols wouldn’t be denied and Kim Young kicked the winning point in injury time. Congratulations to all those who got this project up and running: Paul Gannon from the West Galway Ladies Football Development Association, Gay O’Brien Manager from Bearna, Selectors Barry Cummins from St Michaels & Michael Burke from Eire Óg and to Mike Buckley, Managing Director of Sports Kit Ireland (kit sponsors). Noreen Walshe from Bearna had the distinction of kicking the first ever point for Mná na Cathrach and Aoife Cummins had the honour of captaining the side.
Mná na Cathrach: L McAnulty (Bearna), C Friel (Bearna), G McDonagh (Bearna), L Hegarty (St Michaels), E Carter (Moycullen), F Faherty (Moycullen), L Martyn (Salthill), A Cummins (St Michaels), A Donnelly (Eire Og), L Madden 1-2 (St Michaels), V Coakley (Salthill), SJ Grehan 0-1(Bearna), F Duggan (Moycullen), A Kelly 2-2 (Renmore) and N Walshe 1-1(Bearna). Subs: S Cummins (St Michaels), C Ruane (St Michaels), Fiona Flaherty (Bearna) and Michelle Burke (Éire Óg). Gráinne Mhaols: B Heanue, N Coyne, B Mulkerrins, L Lydon, M Coyne, T Staunton, T Flaherty, K Young (0-2), M A McDonagh, K Coohill (2-2), T Folan, L Heffernan(0-1), M Coyne (2-2) and M Cloherty.
Written by Barry Cummins
Gráinne Mhaols were declared West Galway Senior Championship Winners for 2007 when Killannin failed to show for their Championship encounter in Clifden last Sunday. The Naomh Feichín pitch was in pristine condition and a tremendous encounter was expected between these fierce rivals who both lost County Championship Finals at Senior (Killannin) and Intermediate (Gráinne Mhaols) level earlier this year. Killannin’s decision not to fulfil this decision reflects very poorly on a club of their stature and flies in the face of everything that the West Galway Ladies Football Development Association is trying to achieve. Official Referee Martin Corcoran who had driven all the way from Islandeady in County Mayo had no option but to award the match to Mná an Iarthair. The Keogh Cup was subsequently presented to Gráinne Mhaols Captain Bríd McDonagh.
Written by Paul Gannon
On November 1st 2007, I addressed the following letter to LGFA President, Geraldine Giles on behalf of the West Galway LGFA Development Association
“On behalf of the West Galway Ladies Football Development Association I hereby formally request that the National Executive grant permission for a representative team named Connemara to be allowed participate in the 2008 All Ireland Junior Championship and Division 3 of the Suzuki National Football League
In many respects, the West Galway Senior Championship in 2002 was the catalyst for the formation of the West Galway Ladies Football Development Association. The following five clubs participated in that inaugural competition; Killannin, Na Piarsaigh, Clonbur, Leitir Moir and Grainne Mhaols. Five years on, Connemara now boosts no less than thirteen clubs, Killannin (Senior), Gráinne Mhaols (Intermediate), Clonbur (Intermediate), Leitir Móir (Intermediate), Bearna (Junior B), St. Michaels (Junior B), Spiddal (Junior C), Moycullen (Junior C), Michael Breathnachs (Junior C), Na Piarsaigh (Junior C), Oileaín Árainn (Junior C), An Cheathru Rua (Junior C), and Salthill-Knocknacarra (Junior C). Ladies football has grown and developed at an extraordinary rate with a 160% increase in the number of clubs since 2002.
The sole aim of the West Galway Ladies Football Development Association is the promotion and development of Ladies football in Connemara. This year, we organised and ran off the following competitions, Senior League, Senior Shield, Senior Championship,Intermediate Championship, Junior League, Junior Shield, Junior Championship. Under 17 Championship, Under-15 Championship, Under 13 Championship, Under 11 Championship and Under 14 Feile Championship and Shield. Our competitions are developmental in character and are not part of the official County Board Master Fixtures Plan.
I served on the Executive Committee of Galway Ladies Football Board for three years, (2003-2005) and hold the following four officerships during that time; Development Officer, P.R.O., Fixtures Secretary and Oifigeach na Gaeilge. It was a massive learning curve and I gained considerable experience re organisation and administration of Ladies Football Competitions and additional related matters. Since leaving the County Executive, I have devoted my time and energy into developing this wonderful sport in my own backyard, namely, the beautiful and totally unique region of Connemara.In order for that development to arrive at a full state of maturity, I believe that it is imperative for Connemara to have a representative Ladies Football team plying its trade at junior level, within the inter-county structure . This would constitute the final piece in the developmental jigsaw out west and it would be incumbent of the West Galway Ladies Football Development Association to ensure, that the team be properly trained, organised, managed and inculcated with a spirit, discipline, ethos and unity of purpose to be proud of.
Galway’s Junior team presently play in the Aisling McGing Senior B Championship Competition for counties with Senior teams. In 2007 there was no Connemara representative on this team because all the training was concentrated at various venues in North East Galway and this made it untenable logistically for Connemara girls to be involved. County training at all levels has always been concentrated in the north-east and this militates strongly against Connemara girls having equal access and opportunity re intercounty football. A Connemara Junior team would put an end to all the years of pent up frustration and exasperation in this regard and create a fantastic buzz out west. It would constitute a massive tonic for Ladies Football in the region and significantly add to the status of the sports therein. I have no doubt that the National Body would get a substantial developmental return on its investment were it to accede to out request.
In conclusion I would like to pay tribute to the trojan work that you have done and continue to do in your presidential capacity on behalf of all the female gaelic footballers of Ireland. We, in Connemara, will always have fond memories of the time you spent among us when Galway hosted Féile in 2003. Our Development Association is proud of all the progress that has been achieved in Connemara in recent years. A representative team of our own would constitute a giant leap in the right direction in terms of what we are trying to achieve. We are asking you to help us make our vision a reality. I have enclosed the entire West Galway Ladies Football Development Association file to date (letters, reports, fixture plans, photographs, newspaper extracts, etc) for your perusal. I hope it will give you a clearer insight into and appreciation of our ongoing vocational work. Please consider our application favourably as we have no agenda other that the promotion and development of Ladies Football in Connemara, and by extension, the status of women within sport therein.”
The 2007 Annual General Meeting of Cumann Forbartha Peil Na mBan Iarthar Na Gaillimhe took place in The Forge in Moycullen on December 11th last and the following club delegates were in attendance. Paul Gannon (Gráinne Mhaols, )John Francis Flaherty (Gráinne Mhaols, )Richie Bohan (Killannin), Walter Butler (Killannin), Marcella Sherry (Oileaín Árainn), Emer Ní Ghríofa (Oileaín Árainn, )Philomena Ní Fhlatharta (Naomh Anna, Leitir Móir), Coíl Ó Ceallaigh (Naomh Anna, Leitir Móir), Patrick Meagher (Salthill-Knocknacarra), Michael Gorman (Salthill-Knocknacarra), John Divilly (Salthill-Knocknacarra), Georgina Lockhart (An Spidéal), Maura Folan (Bearna), Martina Cummins (St. Michaels), Ann Madden (St. Michaels), Victoria Flanagan (Moycullen), Sarah Fahy (Moycullen), Antoine O Conghaile (Michael Breathnachs) and Siobhán Ní Chonghaile (Michael Breathnachs)
In his opening address, Chairperson Walter Butler thanked all the clubs for their co-operation re fixtures all through the year. In his opinion, football in the West during 2007 was fair and honest and at all times played in the right spirit and that is how he envisaged it to remain for the foreseeable future. He paid particular tribute to all the clubs who hosted the Underage finals, Clonbur (U-11), Michael Breathnachs (U-13), Na Piarsaigh (U-15) and Salthill-Knocknacarra (u-17). He thanked all his fellow officers on the Executive for all their help and co-operation in various aspects of the Association’s work during the previous nine months. Secretary Paul Gannon read out the minutes of the 2006 AGM. There were no matters arising. In his Secretary’s report he expressed a desire to revisit the underage structure because despite the fact that the finals days were such a resounding success there was a high number of league matches that never got played. He remarked that it might be worth considering the underage blitz structures that the Connacht Branch of the IRFU employ. On the adult football front, he thanked all the clubs for their co-operation re fixtures throughout 2007 and asked all present to support his new competitive adult structures for 2008 which propose to introduce an Intermediate Final, expand the Intermediate Championship and split the Junior Division into Junior A and Junior B. He concluded by stating that experience in fixture administration has taught him that structures that allow for less games may actually work better. Such a scenario means that clubs have a better chance of having their full team available all the time, they are less pressurised to fulfil fixtures and there is less opportunity for over familiarity between clubs.
Treasurer Sarah Fahy thanked all the clubs who prepaid their 2008 affiliation fees. She also thanked Noel Duignan of Coca Cola Bottlers for his generous sponsorship of the Underage A Cups. She emphasised the need for the Association to embark on a major fundraising drive in 2008 particularly within the context of a Connemara Junior team competing in the 2008 Connacht Junior Championship. Sarah’s Financial Statment was subsequently ratified . The Election of Officers Followed:Honorary President Cóil Ó Ceallaigh;Chairperson Walter Butler;Vice Chairperson Martina Cummins; Secretary-Registrar Paul Gannon; Vice Secretary-Registrar Paddy Meagher;Treasurer Victoria Flanagan; Vice Treasurer Sarah Fahy; Oifigeach na Gaeilge Antoine Ó Conghaile; Development Officers Philomena Ní Fhlatharta and Richie Bohan; Child Welfare Officers Mary Young and Eithne Cunningham; Public Relations Officers Paul Gannon (English) and Antoine Ó Conghaile (Irish.)
The following Motion was carried on the night: That the new Adult Competitive Structure re Senior, Intermediate and Junior Championship, League and Shield be adapted for 2008. Under Any Other Business, the following decisions were taken:
(1) The Connemara Junior Team’s official name will be “Conamara”
.(2) Nomination forms will be sent by the Secretary to all thirteen clubs re Manager of this Conamara Junior team. Candidates will subsequently be interviewed by an Interview Panel selected from the Executive Committee.
(3) An Open Forum re Underage structure will be held early in the new year. Invitations will be extended to all Club Managers to attend this hugely important workshop.
(4)The Secretary will write to Connacht Development Officer Mary Beades requesting a meeting re her role and responsibilities in developing Ladies football in Connemara.
(5) A Fundraising Sub-Committee will be established early in the new year.
Written by Paul Gannon
The 2007 Grainne Mhaols AGM was held in the Station House Hotel, Clifden on December 12th. Outgoing Chairperson, Geraldine McTavish thanked all the Executive and the club coaches for their hard work and dedicated commitment throughout the year. She expressed particular satisfaction with the high profile that Grainne Mhaols enjoys in the local media and hoped that this would continue for the forseeable future. She admitted that it can be quite difficult at times to maintain the necessary focus required for high levels of success but added that enjoyable and positive football experience should always continue to be the epitomy of what Grainne Mhaols is all about.
Paul Gannon’s secretarial report focused mainly on the successful fundraising initiatives which were launched in 2007. “They should really help put the club on a sound financial footing going forward’’, he added. He then went on to inform the delegates about the West Connemara Singles and Doubles Darts Championships and the upcoming Connemara Inter-Pub Team Championships which are to be launched in January 2008. ‘’This new departure in fundraising should contribute positively to extending and enhancing the club’s image and reputation within our catchment area”, he noted before paying particular tribute to Peter Coneys, Declan Ridge and Vincent Leggett for their invaluable contribution to this proposed marriage of convenience between a West Connemara LGFA club and the West Connemara Darts community. He also extended a special word of gratitude to Cashel Connemara and Tullycross Credit Unions for sponsoring the two cups, to Ann Gorham of Fainne, Clifden for the very generous discount re trophies, to Gerry Lyons of Connemara Seamless Gutters for the very generous cash donation and to James and Alan Flaherty for their generous gesture of donating their prize money back to the Grainne Mhaols club. Paul reflected for a few moments on how football can sometimes reflect the ups and downs of life itself, the disastrous finale to the County Intermediate Championship Final in Monivea representing the lowest he had ever felt emotionally since the formation of the club, only to sequenced one week later by an historic first ever national title for the club at the All Ireland Intermediate Sevens, constituting one of the happiest experiences he had ever been priveledged to enjoy with Mna an Iarthair. In conclusion, he paid tribute to Lisa Coohill, Kim Young and Chloe O Malley on their superb achievements on the inter county stage.
In her senior management report, Mary Young reflected on a post match frank exchange of views in a Killannin dressing room as representing a pivotal turning point in the players’ season. ‘’ It was an unplanned but nevertheless, very therapeutic exercise’’, she added, ‘’and the whole squad moved on very well thereafter’’. She noted that the weekends away in Donegal and Dublin helped to create a better spirit and unity of purpose among the players and added that it is vitally important to build up a series of happy memories within the lifetime of the club. The Dublin success was very significant in this regard as was the social experience of participating in the Stella Mangan County Sevens for the second year running. Mary concluded by commenting that the seven a side competititions are a wonderful footballing space and help to add a new dimension to the whole concept of team ethic and squad rotation.
In his underage report, John Francis Flaherty informed all present the highlight of the year was the annexing of the West Galway U17B Championship title in Salthill and added that in his opinion, Grainne Mhaols would have won the A version if all of the players were available on the day. ‘’The unavailability of key players for almost every match at U16 and U15 level cost us dearly’’, he surmised. The undoubted highlight of the season was the dramatic U16 league victory over county championship finalists, Caherlistrane on Easter Saturday when the ‘’Twelve Apostles’’ carved out a dramatic win over the host team’s fifteen on a scoreline of 10-6 to 6-14. John emphasized the need for greater all round commitment from all players from age fifteen upwards and he paid special tribute to his fellow manager Mairead Coyne for doing such a fine job in her first ever year in the role.
The following report was submitted by the U12/U14 management team of Finian Sheridan, Brid McDonagh and Lorraine Heffernan; “Training started in early April and continued every Friday through to the end of September. In all we played about twenty matches which included the West Galway U11 and U13 tournaments. The players showed great commitment in all the matches and competed very well against all opposition with some notable success, particularly the U13 victories over St Michaels and Salthill and the U14 Shield final win over Michael Breathnachs. The development in the skills and football abilities of many of the players was clearly obvious over the season, however, others with much potential failed to show the interest and commitment necessary to develop their potential. In general, players need to develop a higher level of fitness to enable them to play football. It is impossible to achieve this in one night’s training per week, so parents need to encourage players to get out and exercise and practice throughout the year. The level of interest from younger players in the U10 bracket was especially encouraging and it would be great if the club could appoint a manager to look after this grade in 2008.
A problem which existed in 2007 was the lack of availability of pitches for matches and training. After having access on a few occasions earlier in the season, the Clifden pitch proved difficult to get. We were never refused access outright but equally, we never got a commitment on its availability on a regular basis. As a result, training and most matches were held in Tullycross. This required a high level of time consuming co-ordination with other users of that pitch to ensure availability. The problem is likely to be worse in the year ahead as the local boys GAA teams now compete in a greater number of competitions. A second problem was the co-ordination of the transport of Clifden players to Tullycross which worked well at times, but too often, players didn’t bother turning up or left it too late to inform managers that they weren’t attending. An adult/parent from the Clifden area who will co-ordinate and travel with the players to matches and training is a necessity for 2008. There are lots of players from the Clifden/Ballyconneely area but unless they are fully integrated into the set- up, gaelic football will stay lower down on their priority list. It was agreed by the managers that separate training sessions would be held in Carna with the intention that all players would come together, possibly in Clifden, for joint training sessions but this never materialised. The lack of interest from players from the Carna area was particularly disappointing as we need these if we are to compete successfully.
In addition to our recommendation to appoint an U10 manager, it is our opinion that there should be separate management teams (comprising a minimum of three persons) for U12 and U14. We feel that U10 and U12 competitions should be played as blitzes over one day, where teams would play a number of short matches against different opposition. This would reduce excessive travel and administration and result in more football for the girls. A final point worth mentioning is the positive comments received from opposition managers and the organisers of the West Galway Feile in Oughterard re the girls’ behaviour behavior on and off the pitch. They acted as good ambassadors for the club. In conclusion, although the organisation and logistics was frustrating at times, the development of the players in terms of their confidence, skills and team spirit augurs well for the future.’’
In her Junior report, Melissa Wallac informed the meeting that it had been a particularly difficult year re player availability, so much so, that she had to withdraw the team from the West Galway shield and championship competitions due to insufficient numbers. The heavy 2006 championship final defeat to Moycullen in Oughterard was amply compensated for in Rosmuc a numbe of weeks later when Grainne Mhaols staged a wonderful recovery against Michael Breathnachs in the 2006 shield decider only to lose out in the final analysis by the narrowest of margins. Melissa concluded by adding that junior football constitutes a wonderfully positive and enjoyable experience because it is largely devoid of all the pressures and tensions of senior football. She hoped that the proposed introduction of Junior A and Junior B divisions into the West Galway Development Association’s adult competitive structures for 2008 would ultimately render the management of Grainne Mhaols jniors much easier and simpler going forward.
The Election of Honourary Presidents followed; Mary Coyne and Ann Flaherty were duly elected.
The Election of Officers followed;
The Election of Management teams followed;