Grainne Mhaols Under 16s Bridge Twelve Year Championship Gap
As the annual curtain comes down on scene sixteen of the ongoing and evolutionary pirate queen saga, the honour of playing out the grand finale has this year been bestowed on the Grainne Mhaols Under 14s when they take centre stage in the Division 2B Championship final against Barna in Mid-November.
The revised underage championship structures this season saw Eddie Flaherty and Majella Coyne’s charges graded at Division 2 level along with Salthill/Knocknacarra, Barna, Caltra, Moycullen, Menlough/Skehana, Tuam-Cortoon and St Brendans. The ensuing quarter final draw pitted cailini an iarthair against Moycullen in a fiercely fought Connemara derby that went right to the wire. Grainne Mhaols ended up on the wrong side of the 3-9 to 3-5 final scoreline and this defeat put paid to their genuine aspirations of landing the coveted 2A crown. Moycullen fell at the penultimate stage in the latter in a heartbreaking one point defeat to Tuam-Cortoon but Connemara will be represented on the double in the 2B decider after Grainne Mhaols proved far too strong for a valiant Menlough/Skehana outfit in their semi final joust in Letterfrack, and Barna overcame Caltra in the other semi final.
These two results have now set up an intriguing repeat of the 2014 County Under 12 Division 2 League Final which saw cailini cois fharraige prevail by the narrowest of margins. Grainne Mhaols will be hoping to avenge that reverse and in the process become the club’s first ever underage team to win a league and championship double. A number of Under 14 players also played key roles on the Grainne Mhaols Under 16 who were also graded at Division 2 level along with Menlough/Skehana, Moycullen, Annaghdown, Caherlistrane, Barna, Glenamaddy/Williamstown and St Brendans. The quarter final draw threw up a tough home assignment against Glenamaddy/Williamstown and at the end of a fast and free flowing contest it was the North Galway girls who came out the right side of the 4-14 to 4-7 final scoreline. An inability to convert three gilt edged goal chances in the opening ten minutes ultimately proved to be the West Connemara girls’ undoing as they exited the 2A Championship.
A perilous expedition to Caherlistrane was next on the agenda with the home side justifiably enjoying the tag of favouritism after their close quarter final encounter with eventual 2A champions, Menlough/Skehana. Gaelic football is notorious for its unpredictability however and so it proved to be on this occasion as Grainne Mhaols tore into the task at hand in ruthless and unrelenting fashion to book their place in the 2B decider on a final scoreline of 8-11 to 1-7. The idyllic and magnificent setting of Rosmuc provided the perfect backdrop for the 2016 County Under 16 Division 2B Championship Final between Connemara’s best two teams. There was little to separate them when they clashed in the 2014 Division 1B Championship and this again proved to be the case on October 16. First half goals from Róisín Mannion and Sorcha O’Malley gave the westerners a five point cushion at the interval on a scoreline of 2-4 to 0-5.
Moycullen hit three fast points inside the opening five minutes of the second half but the pendulum swung back in favour of their opponents courtesy of a clinical low finish from Grainne King. Her teammates pushed on and two additional majors courtesy of Elaine Nee and Seren Griffiths during that third quarter either side of Moycullen’s first green flag, left the latter with a mountain to climb.
Moycullen are renowned for their self belief and fighting spirit however, and the conversion of two penalties inside three minutes threw them a sudden and unexpected lifeline as this pulsating contest entered its final ten minutes.
In fairness to the victors however, they never deviated from a football philosophy that seeks to combine the key elements of creativity, fitness, discipline and pride in the jersey in equal measure, and despite the concession of a fourth goal late on, Grainne Mhaols still had enough in reserve to prevail by 5-9 to 4-8. There were unbridled scenes of joy afterwards as the club celebrated its first Under 16 championship success since annexing the Division 1A title in 2004. Thirteen years on from that unforgettable milestone, the present generation of Grainne Mhaols U16s will also get a chance to dine at the top table by testing their mettle against the cream of the county in the 2017 Division 1 League.
Grainne Mhaols Under 12s also competed at Division 2 level in their recent championship. Defeats to Barna (2A Quarter Final) and Milltown (2B Semi Final) saw them qualify for a Division 2B Championship Shield Final showdown with Tuam-Cortoon in Oughterard. John McDermott’s charges were highly competitive in an entertaining encounter but lost out on a final scoreline of 2-4 to 0-5. Grainne Mhaols U18s received an unwelcome walkover from Monivea Abbey in the opening round of their County Minor Division 3 championship and James O’Neill’s charges’ subsequent 9-2 to 4-14 home defeat to Ballinasloe was primarily down to defensive naivety in the opening half.
Meanwhile, on the adult front there was no joy for Na Piarsaigh/Grainne Mhaols as they lost out to Mountbellew/Moylough (8-11 to 3-6) and Naomh Anna, Leitir Moir (1-12 to 1-9), respectively, in the group stages of the County Junior A Championship. Former All-Star and present captain Lisa Coohill and Noreen Coyne played superb football throughout the league and championship campaigns and their subsequent selections at centre half forward and right corner back, respectively, on the inaugural Galway LGFA Junior A Club All Stars Team of the year are more than justified. Congratulations are also in order for Megan Walsh who made the Galway under 14 team, Katie Flaherty, Riona Coyne and Rochelle Connolly who made the Galway under 13 Development Squad and Róisín Mannion who did likewise at Under 15 level along with Mollie Walsh and Johanna Coyne at Under 17 level.
The task of fundraising within any club unit is a perennial and onerous one, and to this end Grainne Mhaols LGFA would like to extend its heartfelt and sincere thanks to all the West Connemara hotels who supported the inaugural Galway LGFA Hotel Breaks Fundraising Draw. We were one of only three clubs in the county to sell 100 tickets, which yielded a financial return of €500 to both Galway LGFA and Grainne Mhaols LGFA. Thanks also to all the people within our West Connemara community who purchased tickets and supported our other fundraising ventures throughout the season. Thanks to Jimmy gibbons of Hillview Laundrette for ensuring that all our teams are turned out in pristine fashion and free of charge – we hugely appreciate it. We also appreciate the contribution of the various West Connemara businesses who have placed advertisements on our website.
The Grainne Mhaols Monthly Draw will be running for one more season at least, with the October 2016 and November 2016 draws taking place at our upcoming Annual General Meeting in the Naomh Feichín GAA Clubhouse tomorrow (Thursday, November 17) at 7:30pm.
Grainne Mhaols would like to thank Foscadh and Naomh Feichín GAA for providing us with playing pitches and dressing room facilities at Letterfrack and Clifden. It would be remiss of us not to give Naomh Feichín GAA treasurer Tony Coyne a special mention. Thanks, Tony for being so selfless and helpful with your time. We are greatly in your debt.