Carna Ladies Gaelic Football Club was founded in the spring of 1994. There was a lot of interest in Ladies Football in the parish at the time and it was the success of inter-school competitions at under 10 and under 12 level that led myself and others to believe that the time was right to start a club for the senior and under 14 girls. I had a lot of experience behind me by 1994, having had lengthy spells with both Naomh Anna, Leitir Moir and St. Grellans, Ballinasloe. During that time I was privileged to have won County and Provincial medals with both clubs. It was great to become part of a club that would be made up of girls from my native parish. We trained twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays under the watchful eye of our manager, Dominic Moran.
We didn’t make much of an impact in our first year but everybody believed that if we kept at it, things would eventually come right for us. The underage teams were doing well and that boosted our confidence, as we knew they would be coming through to the Junior team eventually. In 1997, with nearly three years of hard training and plenty of match experience behind us, we decided at our AGM that we were going to make a supreme effort to win a county title. We felt we had a strong enough panel to make a real challenge for honours and as we walked out on the Tuam Stadium on 31st August that year for the County Championship final, we knew that all the hard training had paid off. We lost a great game to St. Mary’s, Killererin by a point. It was hard to get over the disappointment but we quickly refocussed on the league and later that year we came face to face with Killererin again in the County League final. Once again it was a very hard match but on the day we had the greater hunger and deservedly won by six points. It was a great day for the club and parish and I will never forget the great celebrations that night in Glynsk House. The year was rounded off in style when our under 14s won the West Board League and some of our Junior players made the County panel.
We were very fortunate as a club in that we had the support of the Carna men’s club all through, especially when it came to finance. We also organised our own fundraising activities. Sponsorship was never a problem. The Carna Bay Hotel (Padraig and Mary Clotherty) sponsored our jerseys and Aisling Windows sponsored the shorts and socks. Transmara sponsored the under 14 jerseys and Connemara Trails (Willie Leahy) covered the cost of the under 14 shorts and socks. Paddy Keane, building contractor sponsored a set of sweatshirts. Local businessmen Michael Mac Oireachtaigh and Richard McDonagh presented us with beautiful cups for the under 10 and under 12 inter-school finals. Going back to the playing side of things, enormous credit goes to our trainer Dominic Moran who did great work with us over the three years.
Unfortunately, Carna Ladies Football Club went out of existence in Late 1997. A lot of the players had other commitments and we no longer had anybody to guide us as Trainer/Manager. However, there still exists today a high level of interest in Ladies Football in the Carna area and it is great to see so many of our girls playing with the newly formed Grainne Mhaols Club. Watching Grainne Mhaols in action against Leitir Moir, the other evening I really believe that they have the ability to go all the way to the top just as Carna did in 1997. However it will take a lot of time, sweat, training and commitment.
I would like to finish on a personal note by saying that I have really enjoyed all the football Ive played down through the years. All the different clubs Ive played for have been very good to me and who knows, perhaps I will play for the Grainne Mhaols at some stage this year. One of the happiest and proudest moments in my life was when I first got to wear the County jersey. Although I never got to play in Croke Park which is every footballer’s dream, I did get to be an umpire at the 1995 All-Ireland Junior final. Every player has moments that remain in the mind forever and to this end I will never forget the day I received the County Senior Cup on behalf of the Leitir Moir team after we had beaten St. Grellans, Ballinasloe by 1-12 to 2-5 in the 1994 Senior Championship final. As well as having happy days there were sad days also, none more so than the day we lost the 1997 Junior Championship final to St. Mary’s Killererin. Football is like that, full of highs and lows, just like life itself.
Written by Maire Clotherty.