On May 2nd 2012, I emailed the following letter to JJ Mannion, Chairperson of Naomh Feichin GAA Club, Clifden. 

“On behalf of the Executive Committee of Gráinne Mhaols Ladies Gaelic Football Club, I hereby confirm that our gaelic sporting organisation is fully supportive of the Naomh Feichin GAA Club (Clifden) Grant Aid Application.    Gráinne Mhaols LGFA Club  currently boosts a playing membership of almost one hundred. We field teams at U-11, U12, U13, U14, U16, U18 and Adult Senior Level. Over the years, we have incurred huge costs re training our respective teams because of a serious lack of infrastructural sports training facilities within the West Connemara region that we represent. As a direct consequence of the above, our players have had no option but to avail of other sports facilities which are quite a considerable distance from our home base. This has been a very costly exercise logistically, financially and in terms of time management. 

In recent years however, the Naomh Feichin GAA Club have carried out a number of very commendable infrastructural improvements to its grounds on Hospital Road which has greatly helped in alleviating the state of affairs outlined above. The Clifden based club represents the parish of Omey-Ballindoon and recognises that a sizeable proportion of the registered players in Gráinne Mhaols LGFA also emanate from the same parish. Its Executive Committee has made its facilities available to its sister club for both training purposes and official matches. Furthermore, the Naomh Feichin GAA Club has also from time to time provided assistance to Gráinne Mhaols LGFA in the use of equipment and sports gear. Unlike many other local arrangements around the county, Naomh Feichin GAA has never requested nor accepted any renumeration from Gráinne Mhaols LGFA re use of any of its existing pitch or dressingroom facilities and for this we are eternally grateful.

The links between the two clubs are inextricable. Many of the Gráinne Mhaols players have brothers playing for Naomh Feichin. Many Gráinne Mhaol girls attend Naomh Feichin matches and vice versa. A number of Gráinne Mhaols girls played for Naomh Feichin up to Under 14 level and were nurtured in their early football development by dedicated coaches and officials within Clifden GAA. The outstanding player in this regard was Lisa Coohill, an All Ireland Senior Winner with Galway in 2004 and also the recipient of two All Star awards.  It’s fair to say that both clubs took equal pride in her historic achievements at that time. The ongoing relationship between the two clubs is a harmonious one, based on mutual respect and support.

In conclusion, I would just like to wish Cumann Naomh Feichin every good fortune in its ongoing vocational work within the gaelic sporting experience in West Connemara. We in Gráinne Mhaols are proud to be associated with such a positive and progressive club and we also think it would be entirely appropriate if Naomh Feichin’s Grant Application would be given favourable consideration by the powers that be, in this, its centenary year.”

Historic Breakthrough At Underage Level For Cailíní An Iarthair

Gráinne Mhaols 0-12, Glenamaddy-Williamstown 1-5   History was made at sunsplashed Spiddal on June 9th last when Gráinne Mhaols LGFA captured a first ever county title at Under-12 level in its eleven year history.  A barnstorming finish which yielded four points without reply in the final six minutes ensured that the disappointment of three previous county final defeats (2001 at Division 1 level, 2005 at Division 2 level and 2009 at Division 4 level) would not be repeated. 

Gráinne Mhaols had wind advantage in the opening half and they used it to good effect, establishing a five point lead in the process.  Their opponents were a transformed outfit on the resumption however and parity was restored within eight minutes, courtesy of a quickfire 1-2.  The sides were now deadlocked on a scoreline of 1-4 to 0-7 with the North East Galway girls very much in the ascendancy.  The turning point arrived on 43 minutes when Glenamaddy-Williamstown full forward Paula Tierney’s goal bound shot rebounded back of the post and was cleared to safety.  It was a big wake up call for the West Connemara girls and they reacted in the best possible manner by dominating the possession stakes thereafter, and outscoring their opponents by 0-5 to 0-1 in the final quarter. 

While Glenamaddy-Williamstown had excellent individual players in corner forward and captain Kaylie Mannion, full back Maeve Keaveney, centre half back Amanda-Jane Geraghty, midfielder Kathryn Davis and the aforementioned Paula Tierney, their opponents were that little bit better balanced as an overall unit.  The assured handling of custodian Chloe Joyce, the industry of midfielders Megan Walsh, Johanna Coyne and Rebecca Mullen, the honest endeavour of Ashley Flaherty, Gráinne King and Sorcha O’Malley up front, the tight marking of Katie Flaherty, Caitlin Lee, Noreen Coyne and Kaytlyn Lee in defence, the speed of the mark and ball carrying ability of pacy wing backs Eimear Roche and Roísín Mannion and the physical power, ball winning ability and workrate of centre half forward Róisín Gallagher-Burke (this writer’s player of the match), were all key components in the fashioning of this victory.  Craft and guile are also vital ingredients in the mixing bowl of success, and on this occasion the burden of responsibility in that regard, was destined to fall on the shoulders of Gráinne Mhaols corner forward, Amy Gannon.  Her finishing prowess, both from frees and general play, yielded a rich harvest of scores, and was probably the decisive difference between the two teams in the final analysis. 

Gráinne Mhaols:  Chloe Joyce, Noreen Coyne, Caitlin Lee, Katie Flaherty, Eimear Roche, Kaetlin Lee, Róisín Mannion, Megan Walsh (0-1), Johanna Coyne, Sorcha O’Malley, Róisín Gallagher-Burke (0-2), Ashley Flaherty (0-1), Gráinne King, Rebecca Mullen, Amy Gannon (0-8).  Subs:  Alva Coneys (introduced on 45 minutes), Emily McConway (introduced on 52 minutes), Kayleigh Duane, Ríona Coyne. 

Management Team:  Eddie Flaherty, Paul Gannon, Brendan O’Malley, Majella Coyne. 

Written by Paul Gannon. 

Connemara Journal

June 2012

Cross Border Blitz Highlights Historical Connections

History was made on Letterfrack Community Sportsfield on July 28th last when local LGFA club, Gráinne Mhaols hosted the Inaugural Pirate Queen Under 12 Cup and Shield Tournament. The other participating teams on the day were Westport Tigers, Louisburg and Westport Lions, with the latter just edging out Louisburg in a really, tight low scoring Cup final. Westport Tigers were hoping to make it a covey double on the day, but the Shield will reside back in Aillebrack for the next year, just down the road from the foundational ruins of the original Bunowen Castle where Grace O Malley lived with her husband Donall O Flatharta in the sixteenth century. After the latter was killed in battle with the Joyces of North Connemara, Gráinne Mhaol, returned to her native Murrisk, on the outskirts of Westport and eventually relocated her operational base to Clare Island. The Gráinne Mhaol Interpretative Centre in Louisburg is well worth a visit for anybody interested in finding out a bit more about the exploits of The Pirate Queen, as is esteemed Westport Historian, Margaret Chambers’ excellent publication on the same subject, which is available in local bookshops.

Gráinne Mhaols LGFA, Westport LGFA and Louisburg LGFA would like to thank the following people for their contribution to what was a very competitive and enjoyable competition; Connacht LGFA Administrator, Ita Hannon who gave the organisers the green light, Janet O Toole of Connemara West who secured the sponsorship of the trophies, Breda Coneys, Secretary of the Letterfrack Community Sportsfield Administrative Committee and Connemara West Chairperson, Kevin Heanue, who presented the Cup and Shield to the winning captains. It came as no surprise that the O Malley clan was well represented on the field of play, with both Sorcha O Malley (Gráinne Mhaols) and Michaela O Malley (Lousburg) displaying many of the admirable qualities that characterised  their famous ancestor, on her many voyages all those years ago.

Written by Paul Gannon. 

Connemara Journal

August 2012

Presentation Ceremony at the Inaugural Pirate Queen Cup and Shield Tournament.
Presentation Ceremony at the Inaugural Pirate Queen Cup and Shield Tournament.
Connemara West Chairperson, Kevin Heanue presents Grainne Mhaols Captain Eimear Roche with the Pirate Queen Shield after her side overcame Westport Tigers in an exciting final.   Photo courtesy of Tonya Ni Chuirrin
Connemara West Chairperson, Kevin Heanue presents Grainne Mhaols Captain Eimear Roche with the Pirate Queen Shield after her side overcame Westport Tigers in an exciting final.
Photo courtesy of Tonya Ni Chuirrin
 Grainne Mhaols Under 12 Squad, 2012 Pirate Queen Shield Winners Back Row (L to R) Noreen Coyne, Grainne King, Johanna Coyne, Caitlin Lee, Roisin Mannion, Ashley Flaherty, Catherine Mannion and Amy Gannon.  Front Row (L to R) Alva Coneys, Kaytlyn Lee, Eimear Roche (Captain), Chloe Joyce, Kayleigh Duane, Emily McConway, Sorcha O Malley and Catherine Ward.
Grainne Mhaols Under 12 Squad, 2012 Pirate Queen Shield Winners Back Row (L to R) Noreen Coyne, Grainne King, Johanna Coyne, Caitlin Lee, Roisin Mannion, Ashley Flaherty, Catherine Mannion and Amy Gannon. Front Row (L to R) Alva Coneys, Kaytlyn Lee, Eimear Roche (Captain), Chloe Joyce, Kayleigh Duane, Emily McConway, Sorcha O Malley and Catherine Ward.


Caltra Come Of Age As Gráinne Mhaols Rue Unconverted Chances

Caltra Cuans 0-17, Gráinne Mhaols 3-5  An historic day for Caltra LGFA in the form of a first ever championship victory at the highest level.  This was always going to be an intriguing clash, the 2011 Connacht Intermediate Championship winners locking horns with the 2010 Connacht Intermediate championship runners up and it certainly lived up to its billing.  Caltra had more dash and speed but Gráinne Mhaols had the edge all through in craft and guile.  They also had the mercurial Mairéad Coyne who gave an absolute masterclass in a player of the match performance.  In terms of the final outcome, however, it came down to clinical execution in front of goal and in this regard one cannot begrudge the new debutantes their hard earned victory. Seventeen scores to eight suggests strongly that Caltra were the superior force but that tells one half of the statistical story.  Gráinne Mhaols missed 4-8 (3-6 in the first half alone) in contrast to Caltra’s 2-3.  Mná an Iarthair’s Achilles heel came back to haunt them once again, and a repeat scenario on Saturday week against Dunmore will bring the curtain down on their championship aspirations for another year. 

The outstanding feature of the opening period was the pace and finishing prowess of the Caltra offensive unit which led the Gráinne Mhaols backs a merry dance and shot twelve points from play in the process.  The quality of some of these scores was breathtaking at times with Emma Rainey (3), Áine Hannon (5) and Megan Kelly (3) putting on a real exhibition.  At least six of the points came as a direct result of misplaced passes up front on the part of their adversaries and the last five were attained in blitzkrieg fashion and without reply in a blistering five minute spell immediately before halftime.  Gráinne Mhaols stand in custodian Emily Gibbons pulled off a brilliant point blank save from Emma Rainey on ten minutes and then rode her luck nine minutes later when Sarah Noone missed a proverbial sitter from ten yards. 

A Katie Coohill piledriver from twenty yards, allied to two converted frees courtesy of herself and Mairéad Coyne, constituted the only mathematical resistance that the westerners were able to muster in the face of such a sustained onslaught by their hosts.  That said, however, the 0-13 to 1-2 halftime scoreline belied the true story of that opening half.  Caltra goalkeeper, Lucy Green, pulled off two excellent saves from Mairéad Coyne and Lisa Coohill before wing forward Lorraine Heffernan was desperately unlucky to fumble Lisa Coohill’s astute final pass with the goal at her mercy.  Leigh Birchmore, Maryanna McDonagh and Mairéad Coyne also spurned easy point scoring opportunities, and as they and their teammates retired to the dressing room for some badly needed respite, their opponents could be forgiven for thinking that the match was over as a contest. 

Nothing could have been further from the truth, however, as Gráinne Mhaols improved out of all proportion on the resumption.  Kim Young and Lisa Coohill took a firm grip on proceedings at midfield, wing forwards Fionnuala Hannigan-Dunkley and Maryanna McDonagh became much more influential in general play and the introduction of Alison Coneys at right half back, coupled with the redeployment of Paula Coohill to centre half back, had the desirable impact that management were looking for.  Mairéad Coyne converted an early free but the comeback really began in earnest when she took the final pass in a great move on forty minutes and buried the ball in the back of the net from close range.  Emma Rainey responded with Caltra’s opener on forty five minutes but their opponents were now very much in the ascendency, and after Mairéad Coyne was unceremoniously upended in the square three minutes later, Lisa Coohill coolly dispatched the resultant penalty to cut the deficit to two.  Caltra were rattled as Gráinne Mhaols drove on relentlessly.  Their captain led by example with two superb points from play, and suddenly with six minutes remaining the sides were level for the very first time. 

Caltra full forward Áine Hannon, who was getting very little change out of Noreen Coyne since the interval, sneaked a point for Gabriel Naughton’s charges before the defining moment of an enthralling encounter finally arrived.  A superb Gráinne Mhaols move the full length of the pitch culminated in corner forward Rebecca Sweeney being presented with their fourth and final goal opportunity.  To her credit, she kept her shot low, on target and wide of the goalie only to see Caltra wing back Aoife Ní Cheallaigh appear out of nowhere to effect a miraculous last ditch goal line clearance.  It was a huge let off for the North-East Galway girls, and urged on by a large and vociferous home support, they added a further two points to secure a memorable victory.

Gráinne Mhaols second half performance had character and class written all over it, but they will need to play at that level for the entire hour against Dunmore in Letterfrack if they wish to emulate last year’s achievement of reaching the penultimate round.  Caltra Cuans play Dunmore in the final group match on August 19th with the top two teams progressing to the semi finals where the opposition will most likely be provided by Corofin and St Brendans, who contested last year’s final. 

Written by Paul Gannon. 

Connemara Journal

June 2012

Grainne Mhaols Executive pictured at a meeting in Connemara Community Radio in 2012; (l to r) Paul Gannon, James O Neill, Tonya Ni Chuirrin, John Francis Flaherty, Mary Young, Noreen Coyne, Moira Ruddy and Mairead Coyne.  

Old Adversaries All Set To Renew Rivalry In LGFA Senior Championship

The splendid new Letterfrack pitch, idyllically set at the foot of Diamond Hill, is the venue for next Saturday week’s (July 28th) eagerly anticipated showdown between Gráinne Mhaols and Dunmore.  The clubs have only met once ever in championship, way back in 2003 at Junior A level, when Dunmore prevailed by 3-17 to 4-5 in that quarter final encounter.  When the two sides clashed again at the end of that particular season in the County Junior A League Final, Dunmore were the newly crowned County and Connacht Junior A Championship winners and they went on to make it a treble, after they eventually won a fiercely contested match in Killannin by 2-5 to 1-5. 

The North Galway club swept the boards at intermediate level the following year on their way to achieving senior status in both league and championship, at the very first attempt.  Gráinne Mhaols stayed in their slipstream, however, by winning the same treble in 2004 that Dunmore had won in 2003.  Mná an Iarthair subsequently found the going a lot tougher at Intermediate level, losing out to Killannin and Caherlistrane in the 2005 and 2007 county championship finals.  They did however, manage to squeeze in a first ever county intermediate league title, in between those two setbacks, and as luck would have it, Gráinne Mhaols first ever senior league match in 2007 happened to be against Dunmore and it ended in an exciting draw. 

Dunmore lost out heavily to Corofin in their first ever senior championship final in 2008 but were a rejuvenated outfit at the same stage two years later, when they lost out to the same opposition by 3-15 to 2-16 in what is generally regarded as being the best Galway Senior Ladies Championship Final ever played.  2010 was also a year to remember for Gráinne Mhaols who finally got their hands on the county intermediate championship cup at the third time of asking, courtesy of a comprehensive 4-13 to 2-3 victory over Glenamaddy-Williamstown.  They also qualified for the Division 1 League Shield Final (3rd v 4th) that year where the opposition was provided by Dunmore.  A pulsating encounter in Clonbur needed extra time to resolve the issue and ultimately it was the West Connemara girls who ended up going home empty handed. 

Gráinne Mhaols were relegated from Division 1 in 2011 and are hoping to go straight back up this year.  League results in Division 2 have been mixed, with two victories (1-11 to 2-7 v Barna and 2-15 to 5-4 v Caherlistrane) and two defeats (1-14 to 2-5 v Tuam-Cortoon and 4-3 to 3-5 v Leitir Móir) but they can still secure a final spot and automatic promotion if they win their remaining three fixtures against Glynsk, Glenamaddy-Williamstown and Mountbellew-Moylough, respectively.  Dunmore are still pointless in Division 1 after losing their opening four matches and now find themselves staring down the barrel of relegation.  Championship is an entirely different matter however, and Gráinne Mhaols would be well advised to pay no attention whatsoever to Dunmore’s poor run of form in the Senior League. 

County player, Geraldine Conneely, is Dunmore’s only survivor from that aforementioned Junior A Championship match nine years ago.  She is playing as well as ever and will pose a huge scoring threat to Gráinne Mhaols along with impressive wing forwards Nicola Kilgariff and Sarah Meehan.  One can only speculate as to how the Dunmore management team of Michael Lynott, Bernie Moloney and Grace Fallon will deploy the services of their other two county players, Sarah Conneely and Barbara Hannon.  Both are versatile enough to operate within a variety of roles but may very well start at midfield.  Captain Annie Connaughton, Niamh Maloney and Aoife Quinn are expected to feature strongly in defence as is Evelyn Birmingham who has been performing very solidly all season between the posts. 

Gráinne Mhaols have injury concerns over midfielders Kim Young (ankle), Lisa Coohill (hamstring) and wing forward Leigh Birchmore (dislocated finger) but are optimistic that all three will be fit to start.  They will look to goalkeeper Becky Heanue, along with Noreen Coyne, Michelle Joyce and Paula Coohill at the heart of their defence, to nullify the Dunmore attacking threat.  If Gráinne Mhaols get an even break at midfield, which I expect they will, forwards of the calibre of Fionnuala Hannigan-Dunkley, Maryanna McDonagh, Katie Coohill and county player and captain Mairéad Coyne have the skill, power and experience to procure the necessary scores.  Dunmore will enjoy the mantle of favouritism based on their greater experience at this level but home advantage could ultimately turn out to be a very significant factor in Gráinne Mhaols’ favour.  Their management team of Paul Gannon, Donal Coyne and Margaret Moroney will know that a favourable outcome will be very much contingent on the execution matching the creation.  Throw in is at 12 noon. 

Written by Paul Gannon. 

Connemara Journal

June 2012

The above match never materialised due to a tragic bereavement in Dunmore. Grainne Mhaols were eventually awarded the match by walkover and for the second year running found themselves pitted against the might of Corofin in the penultimate round of the county senior championship.

Clinical Corofin Brush Aside The Connemara Challenge

Grainne Mhaols made their expected exit from this year’s senior championship at the hands of eventual champions Corofin at Oughterard on September 9th last. The West Connemara girls were well in contention early on and their dream of reaching a first ever championship final at the highest level was still very much alive on twenty three minutes when they trailed their North Galway opponents by 1-7 to 1-4. The subsequent sin binning of one of Gráinne Mhaol’s most influential players however was to have disastrous repercussions for her team in the run up to half time. Corofin took a vice like grip on proceedings, used the extra player in attack and rattled in three killer goals in a devastating five minute spell.

Despite trailing by 4-9 to 1-4 at the interval Grainne Mhaols played with tremendous spirit and resolve for the entire duration of the second half. Maire Coyne’s early goal offered her team a glimmer of hope but it was quickly cancelled out by a sweetly struck penalty from Corofin full forward and Player of the Match, Tracey Leonard, who excelled in all aspects of play from start to finish. Her clinical finish put the seal on a well deserved victory for last year’s beaten finalists and one week later they exacted sweet revenge on their great rivals from Ballygar\Newbridge when they defeated St Brendans by 2-9 to 1-9 in the County Senior Championship final in Monivea.

Grainne Mhaols can take heart from the fact that they were well able to compete with Corofin in the physical stakes, something which enabled them to secure large amounts of possession throughout the hour. There is no substitute for speed and class however and Corofin have it in bucketfuls, particularly up front in their inside forward line. Their huge return of 5-18 in contrast to Grainne Mhaols’ paltry return of 2-5 on their own possession, tells its own story. Mna an Iarthair are probably five players short of being serious contenders for senior championship honours and therein lies the challenge going forward for Connemara’s sole representatives at senior championship level.

The immediate priority however is to obtain promotion back to the ranks of senior league football, and in order to achieve this, Grainne Mhaols will have to overcome the challenges of Glynsk, Mountbellew\Moylough and Glenamaddy\Williamstown in their three remaining Division 2 league matches. The two league finalists are automatically promoted to Division 1 football next season with third and fourth qualifying for a Division 2 Shield final. Grainne Mhaols great rivals from Leitir Moir who lost out to Annaghdown in ths year’s County Junior A Championship final, are in pole position to be in that Division 2 final, and followers of ladies football out west will be hoping that the destination of this particular cup will ultimately be determined  by way of an action packed Connemara derby in Rosmuc next month . At inter county level there was extreme disappointment for Mairead Coyne who was one of Galway’s best performers in their 1-13 to 1-7 All-Ireland semi final defeat to Kerry.

Grainne Mhaols inability to field at U18 level coupled with a heavy defeat to Killannin in the opening round of the U16 Division 4 Championship is indicative of a club that is in a real crisis re players in their mid teens, a state of affairs that doesn’t bode well for the retention of senior status over the next three years. However, It’s a completely different story further down the ranks, with the emergence of a new generation of Grainne Mhaols footballers who should be well able to hold their own at senior adult level provided they serve a happy and productive apprenticeship over the next six years. Some of these players featured prominently in Grainne Mhaols recent heartbreaking 3-11 to 5-5 U14 Division 4 quarter final championship defeat to Clonbur in Letterfrack.

Gráinne Mhaols U14 Squad pictured in Rosmuc prior to their 5-3 to 3-2 West Galway Féile Shield Final defeat to St Michaels.  Back Row (L to R):  Niamh Shanahan, Fonting Lui, Nada Ní Chuirrín, Caitlin Salmon, Niamh Black, Lauren Walsh, Sarah Maher, Aoife O’Neill, Cora Gibbons, Whitney Rufai and Molly Walsh.  Front Row (L to R): Róisin Gallagher-Burke, Eimear Roche, Ashley Flaherty, Megan Walsh, Johanna Coyne and Rebecca Mullen.  They were managed by Tonya Ní Chuirrín and James O’Neill.
Gráinne Mhaols U14 Squad pictured in Rosmuc prior to their 5-3 to 3-2 West Galway Féile Shield Final defeat to St Michaels. Back Row (L to R): Niamh Shanahan, Fonting Lui, Nada Ní Chuirrín, Caitlin Salmon, Niamh Black, Lauren Walsh, Sarah Maher, Aoife O’Neill, Cora Gibbons, Whitney Rufai and Molly Walsh. Front Row (L to R): Róisin Gallagher-Burke, Eimear Roche, Ashley Flaherty, Megan Walsh, Johanna Coyne and Rebecca Mullen. They were managed by Tonya Ní Chuirrín and James O’Neill.

The remainder ply their trade at Under 11 and Under 12 level , and victories over Killannin in the West Galway U11A final and over Glenamaddy\Williamstown in the County Division 3 League Shield final have already made 2012 a year to remember. Ultimately however, it’s all about championship and Grainne Mhaols’ recent 5-10 to 1-5 and 0-9 to 0-2 victories over Killannin and Leitir Moir respectively in this year’s County U12 Division 3 Championship have put the West Connemara girls in a great position to reach the final. A draw or a win at home to Carraroe in their final group match will set up a county final showdown with Craughwell who won all their matches in the North-East Galway group. The match v Carraroe goes ahead in Letterfrack on Friday September 28th at 630pm. Written by Paul Gannon

Connemara View

September 2012

Grainne Mhaols Joint Captains Sorcha O Malley and Roisin Mannion were presented with the Under 11A Cup by (on the left) Galway Ladies Football Board West Galway Development  Officer, Philomena Ni Fhlatharta  and (on the right) Oifigeach na Gaeilge ar Choiste Peil na mBan na Gaillimhe, Ide Nic Dhonnacha.
Grainne Mhaols Joint Captains Sorcha O Malley and Roisin Mannion were presented with the Under 11A Cup by (on the left) Galway Ladies Football Board West Galway Development Officer, Philomena Ni Fhlatharta and (on the right) Oifigeach na Gaeilge ar Choiste Peil na mBan na Gaillimhe, Ide Nic Dhonnacha.
Grainne Mhaols 2012 West Galway Under 11A Champions  Back Row (L to R) Grainne King, Noreen Coyne, Catherine Mannion, Kaytlyn Lee, Chloe Joyce, Caitlin Lee, Jennifer Heanue, Katie Flaherty and Amy Gannon. Front Row ( L to R) Emily Mc Conway, Kayleigh Duane, Sorcha O Malley, Roisin Mannion, Riona Coyne, Alva Coneys and Catherine Ward.
Grainne Mhaols 2012 West Galway Under 11A Champions Back Row (L to R) Grainne King, Noreen Coyne, Catherine Mannion, Kaytlyn Lee, Chloe Joyce, Caitlin Lee, Jennifer Heanue, Katie Flaherty and Amy Gannon. Front Row ( L to R) Emily Mc Conway, Kayleigh Duane, Sorcha O Malley, Roisin Mannion, Riona Coyne, Alva Coneys and Catherine Ward.

Croker A Big Hit With Cailini An Iarthair

While things have been extremely busy on the playing front in recent weeks, the highlight of the Summer was undoubtedly the August 22nd trip to Dublin. The club’s first ever tour of Croke Park (thirty juveniles and ten adults) was the brainchild of Grainne Mhaols Chairperson Tonya Ni Chuirrin, who hails from the capital where she played a lot of competitive camogie in her youth with the Craobh Chiaran club. The girls had a day to remember at Headquarters but when this writer pointed out to them that All-Ireland club finals at junior, intermediate and senior levels in Croke Park are the preserve of Hurling and Peil na bhFear only, they were genuinely shocked and not surprisingly aggrieved. The ultimate gaelic football experience has to be to play in a national final for your club on the Croke Park pitch. Ask any of the male footballers of Clonbur who crowned themselves in glory last February at Junior in the national junior decider. At the time of writing they are probably dreaming about an encore next February as are Carna\Cashel and Oughterard. My neighbouring club in Clifden will probably feel that there is no reason why they can’t emulate Clonbur’s achievement of last year and why not! While I wish all these aforementioned Connemara clubs every good fortune in the realisation of their dreams and aspirations in this regard, I lament and despair at the present totally unacceptable state of affairs re the female gaelic sporting experience.  Will we ever see a time when the thousands of club units within both Peil na mBan and Camogie will be given equal access with their football and hurling brethren, to the hallowed turf at Jones Road, for the purpose of playing off their All Ireland finals? I sincerely hope so, but then the wheels of change and reform move so slowly and so reluctantly within Ireland’s greatest sporting organisation at the best of times, so I won’t be expecting parity of esteem and equality of status for the fairer sex, any time soon.

  Written by Paul Gannon.                                     

Connemara Journal

September 2012

03-croke-park 05-croke-park 01-croke-park 06-croke-park 04-croke-park 02-croke-park

Gráinne Mhaols Fall At The Final Hurdle

Craughwell 4-5   Gráinne Mhaols 0-0   The eleven year wait for a first ever Championship title at U12 level will have to go on a little while longer after Gráinne Mhaols were comprehensively defeated in the Division 3 decider at Moycullen by a physically imposing and well drilled Craughwell outfit.  The heavy nature of the defeat on the scoreboard doesn’t really do justice to the herculean effort which Gráinne Mhaols put in defensively, but it does serve as a stark reminder that their forward unit simply didn’t function on the day.  Craughwell, in contrast, laid the platform for victory with a superb defensive performance before the forwards eventually cut loose late on, to kill off any slim hopes of a West Connemara resurgence. 

Gráinne Mhaols were the more impressive side in the opening quarter with Whitney Rufari and Rebecca Mullen lording it at midfield.  A number of gilt edged chances were created but not availed of, and Gráinne Mhaols were made to pay on twelve minutes when a speculative shot by Craughwell wing forward Saoirse Gilligan found its way to the back of the net.  This fortuitous score, somewhat against the run of play, seemed to ignite the East Galway girls, and they added three more points before the interval, courtesy of Tara Stephens, Caoilfhinn Hennessy, and Aoife Walsh. 

Gráinne Mhaols needed an opening score on the resumption to inject some renewed self belief but a no-nonsense Craughwell rearguard which was superbly marshalled by their outstanding fullback Claire Ford, were winning all the personal battles and growing stronger and more resolute as the half wore on.   Saoirse Gilligan’s opening point had extended Craughwell’s lead to seven by the three quarter mark before a two goal salvo, courtesy of Tara Stephens and Jane Trehy, on forty eight and fifty minutes, respectively, served to confirm their sides’ overall superiority on the day.  Gráinne Mhaols can have no complaints about the final outcome as they were outmanoeuvred and outmuscled up front from start to finish.  Apart from their midfield duo who excelled in the opening period, goalkeeper Chloe Joyce, full backs Katie Flaherty and Caitlin Lee, and half backs Róisin Mannion and Kaytlyn Lee can look back on their first ever county championship final with great pride. 

Craughwell will understand the pain of defeat that their valiant opponents were left to endure, as they themselves were destroyed in the Division 3 League final earlier this year by a rampant Naomh Mhuire (Oranmore-Maree) side who were subsequently upgraded to the Division 2 Championship and made it all the way to the final.  They say you have to lose one before you win one, and hopefully this will be the case for an honest and hard working bunch of Gráinne Mhaols gaelic footballers who simply didn’t do themselves justice on their biggest day of the year.  They will, in all probability, play at Division 2 level as U14s in 2014, a scenario which will present them with an opportunity to renew rivalries with Craughwell.  Whether the outcome will be any different in two years time remains to be seen, and will no doubt be determined by  the quality of coaching, practice and fitness training that cailíní an iarthair are prepared to both enjoy and endure in the intervening period. 

Written by Paul Gannon. 

Connemara Journal,

November 2012

Mood Upbeat at Gráinne Mhaols LGFA Annual Convention

The 2012 Gráinne Mhaols Annual General Meeting was held in the Ellis Hall, Letterfrack, on February 17th last.  In her opening address to members, Chairperson Tonya Ní Chuirrín complimented all the various volunteers on their sterling and steadfast efforts throughout the season.  “We managed to keep the Gráinne Mhaols ship afloat,” she added.  “It was all hands on deck and in retrospect we should be well satisfied with our collective efforts.”  She noted the underage trip to Croke Park, the fundraising concert in the Teach Ceoil, Tully, and the Inaugural Pirate Queen Cup in Letterfrack as three memorable highlights of a busy and eventful year.  She congratulated the senior players and management on reaching the county semi final for the second successive year and she also acknowledged the Under 12s Division 3 League Shield Final victory over Glenamaddy and their subsequent achievement of qualifying for the Division 3 Championship Final.  “We can face the year ahead with renewed optimism,” she concluded, “but we do need to launch a major player recruitment drive over the coming weeks in order to fully realise the tremendous female footballing talent that exists within the West Connemara Region that we so proudly represent.” 

Treasurer Paul Gannon presented the members with the annual financial report.  He thanked all the Monthly Draw members, the Connemara Darts Association and An Garda Siochána re various fundraising initiatives.  He also extended a sincere word of gratitude and appreciation to Naomh Feichín GAA, Renvyle Sports and Social and Foscadh for their goodwill, flexibility and co-operation re pitch facilities and dressing rooms at Clifden, Tullycross and Letterfrack, respectively.  The Election of Officers and Management teams followed. 

Under 12 Management Team:  Paul Gannon, Majella Coyne, Eddie Flaherty. 

Under 14 Management Team:  James O’Neill, Tonya Ní Chuirrín, Eddie Flaherty, Noel Walsh. 

Under 16 Management Team:  Paul Gannon, Fionnuala Hannigan-Dunkley, Moira Burghoffer, Melissa Wallace. 

Senior Manager:  Paul Gannon. 

Written by Paul Gannon.