Women’s Gaelic Football in Australasia
In Australasia, as in Ireland, Gaelic football was considered a man’s game in every sense. A tough physical sport that seemed well beyond the capabilities of women. Women’s participation was deemed to be the role of spectator, cheering (not too loudly) their heroes. That was until some mainly Irish girls in Sydney in 1994 decided that anything the men could do they could do equally as well. With the support of their state association they organised games on an ad hoc basis and were successful to the extent that they played a demonstration game at the 1994 Australian Championship. Much to the surprise and delight) of spectators the game was of a very high standard and extremely well received.
As a result of the initiative in Sydney those visiting from interstate and New Zealand returned to their home bases and set out to develop women’s football locally. The development was rapid and in 1995 the first women’s football Australasian Championship were contested by New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and Auckland. It was fitting that New South Wales were the first winners. Subsequent to 1995, all affiliates have ongoing State leagues and their State teams have participated at the championship.
Such is the attraction of women’s football that many players who normally competed in other sports, e.g. Australian rules and rugby now play what is considered by many to be the best field sport for women with a minimal risk of injury due to the fact the rules prohibit intentional contact.
The growth at local level was such that apart from Sydney (where there continues to be a ready supply of Irish ex-pats who compliment local girls), in all other states locally born women make up in excess of 90% of players. New South Wales won the Australasian Championship in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2000. Auckland were successful in 1997, Western Australia in 2001, Queensland in 2002 before New South Wales regained the title in 2003 with a one point win over Queensland after extra time.
It was evitable that with women’s Gaelic football being played at such a high level in Australasia, the decision was made to compete in the 2000 Women’s World Cup in Dublin. From the squad of 25, locally born players made up 21 of the players, which reflected the developmental work put in. The final in Dublin against North America was a cliffhanger with Australasia winning after extra time. In 2002 Australasia defended the trophy and were undefeated after nine games on tour, defeating London in the final. As in 2000, the majority of the squad (23) were born locally.
One of the main reasons behind the growth in women’s football is the fact that in each State and at the Australasian level, women players are treated exactly the same as the men, hurlers and minors. There is one committee in each area and all components of Gaelic games are treated the same, in other words thee is no separate women’s board.
Presently there are 30 teams playing in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.
The current State champions are:
Melbourne: Garryowen and St Kevins
Sydney: Clan na Gael
Auckland: Dale Paddys and Marist Gaels
South Australia to 2000
• A recent history of Gaelic games in South Australia
• Honour Roll – Men/Hurling/Ladies
• Australasian Championships
• Past Presidents/Secretaries
• Contact details
• 2001/2002 Committee
A recent history of Gaelic Games in South Australia
The Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of South Australia (formerly the Gaelic Athletic Association) was formed in 1967. Originally, Gaelic football and hurling matches were played on a social basis in the parklands that surround the city of Adelaide. In 1967 the GAA was formally established and a “home ground” was obtained at TK Shutter Reserve, Klemzig, approximately 10km northeast of the city of Adelaide. Throughout the 70s and 80s, matches were also regularly played at Elizabeth, 20km north of Adelaide and Christies Beach, 20km south of Adelaide.
During the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Irish immigration to South Australia was strong which allowed for a good competition with a large number of supporters. Each year approximately 6 teams competed in the Gaelic Football and Hurling competitions with around 100-150 participants. Our state was instrumental in establishing the Gaelic Athletic Association of Australasia in the early 1970s. Its annual convention is still held in Adelaide and our state continues to play a significant role in this body. Each year, South Australia competed in the Australasian Gaelic Football and Hurling Championships, and hosted a number of very successful games.
The mid 80s saw a steady increase in non-Irish Australian participants of all ethnic backgrounds.
Over time, the Irish community aged and there was less Irish immigration to South Australia due to lack of job opportunities. Australian Rules football has always been extremely popular in Adelaide, even amongst our own members, and in 1991 the entry of the first Adelaide team into the Australian Football League (AFL) occurred. These factors resulted in a decline in both player and spectator numbers, then when a second tam entered the AFL in 1997, our Association was on the brink of collapse. No long could we play our games on Sunday afternoons in winter, directly clashing with AFL games being played in Adelaide or being televised live on TV.
A major restructuring of our organisation’s activities was required, and fast.
The major changes that were implemented in 1997 were the move to a summer season and the introduction of a 7 a side competition.
Other providing match officials, and the interchange system, whilst retaining all other playing rules. The games were played at TK Shutter Reserve at Klemzig on Wednesday and Friday evenings with three men’s 15 a side teams and five men’s 7 a side teams. The Association struggled to attract spectators and sufficient players, particularly for the 15 a side competition. However, the 7 a side competition was moderately successful and eventually proved the saviour of the Association.
After 30 years at TK Shutter Reserve, the decision was made in 1998 to move all games from Klemzig. We also decided the only way to grow would be to concentrate on the 7 a side competition. January 1998 was the beginning of the revival of Gaelic Football in South Australia.
The Association moved all games to Brighton Rugby Club in a beachside suburb approximately 10km southwest of Adelaide. The excellent bar and clubroom facilities and the ability to play games under-lights on Friday nights resulted in an influx of new players and teams from other football codes and with them a large number of spectators. Many people from the Irish community that we hadn’t seen for some time heard about the revival, were happy with what they saw and became involved again in Gaelic Football.
Seven a side men’s teams competed in the season from January to March 1999, and for the first time in South Australia, women’s Gaelic football was played each week, thanks to a small but dedicated group of women.
At around this time we received encouragement and tangible support from the GAA in Croke Park, Ireland, through Joe McDonough (then President), Pat Daly, Debbie Massey and the players in the Irish Under 17 and seni8or touring squads for the international series. The International Rules games played in October, provided an enormous boost for our Association. The overwhelming interest in the series, which saw over 47,000 fill Football Park in Adelaide, followed through to our local competition.
The 1999/2000 Season began in late October 1999 with seven men’s teams and five women’s teams at Brighton playing 9 a side football. Despite having programs set for the early 2000 season, an additional team was entered into the competition, which was expanded to 11 a side. Games were now being played on Friday nights and Sunday evenings and membership soared to almost 300, the highest figure in the 33-year history of the Association.
During the time of rebuilding, a number of other changes were made to ensure the future of the Association. A permanent office area was established in the city at a building for state sporting associations owned by the South Australian Government. We also now obtained regular funding from the South Australian Government, most recently $A 5,000 for the development of a school’s programme, which saw gaelic football introduced to a number of Adelaide schools. We were the first Association in Australasia to have an official website and we developed a 5-year strategic plan with many targets achieved in the first 3 years. On the administration side, the Association is strong with a full committee of unique characters, comprising a vibrant blend of youth and experience.
Ladies Football Down Under….Alive and Kicking
There are four ladies football clubs namely Michel Cuscks, Clan na Gael, Central Coast and Irish Australians. Clan na Gael re based in the Eastern suburbs (Bondi Beach area) while the other three based on the Western side. The season runs from March to September and during these months the clubs taken part in four competitions – The Coast (one day event in March), the League, the Shield and the Championship.
A combined team of players representing New South Wales also take part in the Australasian tournament held in early October. In the 1998 tournament New South Wales best Western Australia in a closely fought final, which was watched by Joe McDonagh and Liam Mulvihill. This year the tournament took place at Lathlain Park in Perth from 29 September to 3 October.
Dubliner David Hyland is working with the Central Coast team. He was assisting Cyril Duggan on the Leinster coaching development scheme before moving to Sydney in 1997. David is very enthusiastic about ladies football ‘Down Under’. “There is huge potential out here for development. I got involved with the Coast last season and I must say the commitment from players is second to none”. So too is David’s commitment to the sport in Sydney.
While Cusacks have dominated the scene in the last number of years winning 7 out of the last 8 competitions, the other clubs are fast improving and there are signs that Cusacks will not have it all their own way in 1999. In this year’s Coast tournament Cusack’s met Clan na Gael in the final. It was a closely fought affair with Cusacks only pulling away at the end wit two late goals. The player of the tournament went to Marie Killeen (Cusacks), a County Clare Senior player who was out working in Sydney at the time.
The league competition followed where the four clubs played each other three times in the preliminary rounds. The final positions in the league table then determined which clubs faced each other in the semi finals. The league produced some excellent games (Clan na Gael 0-5, Michael Cusacks 0-5) and surprise results (Central Coast 0-7, Michael Cusacks 0-1). Clan na Gael and Central Coast won through to the final.
Clan na Gael were hot favourites to take the league title but Central Coast pulled off the first surprise of the season and ran out winners on the day beating Clan by 3-2 to 0-6.
Central Coast then followed this up with a win over Cusacks in the Shield final on a score line of 2-5 to 1-2.
Dave’s reaction sums up their feelings on their second great win of the year. “I’m not too sure who is in bigger shock. The Cusack’s girls or the Coast itself”.
Of the four clubs the Irish Australians are the only club which is predominantly made up of local players, some of whom are also Touch Football players and Ladies Aussies Rules players.
Clare-man Sean Fitzgibbon who is helping out with the team says, “The Australian and New Zealand girls on our team absolutely love the game itself so the potential is there. It is great to get the locals in but without some experienced club and county players from Ireland the other three Sydney teams will continue to dominate”. However, Sean in undaunted and continues to recruit players t the club which is fast improving. It won’t be long before they make the break through. Indeed in the later stages of this year’s championship the Irish Australians drew with central Coast (1-4 each), which gave the girls a great lift and the signs are that they are set to improve.
There are 6 teams in Brisbane, namely Brisbane Shamrocks, South Harps, Sarsfields, John Mitchells and Easts. To date, Brisbane Shamrocks have been the most successful winning the inaugural League in 1997 and then the inaugural Brisbane Shield in 1998. This year the Shamrocks retained the Brisbane Shield defeating Souths in the final on a scoreline of 4-3 to 0-5. Shamrocks then went on to win the league followed by the GAA Shield where they again beat Souths in the final (0-7 to 1-2). However, they were denied a clean sweep of the trophies when Souths beat them in the final of the championship.
Currently there are three women’s teams in Melbourne, Garryowen, St Kevins and Sinn Fein. The Garryowen women train in Brighton while St Kevins and Sinn Fein train in Fairfield. All the clubs play in Keysborough and Geelong. The following competitions wre held during the year:- 7 a side Blitz (one day event), the League, the Championship and the Australasian tournament (the Victoria team selected from all the clubs).
The Championship 1999
Central Coast 1-5 Irish Australians 0-2
Clan na Gael 2-5 Michael Cusacks 2-4
Central Coast 3-10 Clan na Gael 1-2
Michael Cusacks 1-7 Irish Australians 0-1
Central Coast 1-4 Irish Australians 1-4
Michael Cusacks 2-1 Clan na Gael 5-8
Central Coast 2-7 Michael Cusacks 2-4
Clan na Gael 1-7 Irish Australians 0-2
Central Coast 0-6 Clan na Gael 0-5
Michael Cusacks 3-10 Irish Australians 3-1
Central Coast 3-7 Irish Australians 1-1
Michaels Cusacks 3-3 Clan na Gael 3-6
Central Coast 1-4 Michael Cusacks 1-6
Useful contacts for the clubs in Australia:
Central Coast: David Hyland at email firstname.lastname@example.org
Irish Australians: Sean Fitzgibbon at email email@example.com
Melbourne: Eilis Hughes at email firstname.lastname@example.org
Brisbane: Jackie Peacock at email email@example.com
World Cup 2000
Australasia squeeze past London
Australasia 0-9 London 0-5
In this semi final Australasia led from the start but London were never out of the game and the result was in doubt until the final whistle. Centre forward Simone Cairns opened the scoring for Australasia with a point from play. Two minutes later Cairns was fouled by Deirdre Kelly and she duly converted the free herself. With five minutes gone London opened their account with a pointed free by Elaine Kelly. Australasia’s Julie Boyle then converted a free in front of goals after she had been fouled by Jackie McGowan.
London responded well but a low shot by Elaine Kelly was well saved by keeper Anna Haynes and a shot by Ashling Moloney drifted just wide. With 13 minutes gone, Cairns converted another free conceded by Orla Harrell and Australasia led by 0-4 to 0-1. They had three more chances to extend the lead but did not convert the free kicks. Entering the last five minutes of the half, London set up several promising attacks but resolute defending by all the Australasian backs prevented any further scores in the half.
Four minutes in the second half and midfielder Edel O’Gorman extended Australasia’s lead with a pointed free. London replied with a point by Moloney. Evelyn Griffin then forced a superb save from goalie Haynes when having received the ball from Sharon Lynch, she blasted her shot towards the top right hand corner. After this, London did narrow the gap with points from Elaine Kelly and Harrell to bring them to within one point of the Australasians with 15 minutes gone.
But this was the closest they were to get as Australasia responded with three unanswered points from Cairns and O’Gorman (2). The teams traded points with Lynch and O’Gorman both on target. Into the last five minutes London threw everything into attack and the Australasian keeper Haynes was again called into action making two-match winning saves in the closing minutes.
Anna Haynes, Vicki Arvidson, Renae Campbell, Angi Doyle, Melissa Lee, Sophie Lee, Louise O’Neill, Anna Browne, Edel O’Gorman (0-4), Tracey Ward, Simone Cairns (0-4 capt, Louise Gianaostino, Catriona McGahon, Julia Boyle (0-1), Sue Smith.
Helen Higgins, Patricia O’Donnell, Jackie McGowan, June O’Hanlon, Karen Togher, Ann Marie McDonald, Deirdre Kelly, Elaine Kelly (0-2), Orla Harrell (0-1), Cathy McCarville, Ashling Moloney (0-1), Dorothy Connor, Evelyn Griffin, Suzanne Donaghy, Sharon Lynch (0-1).
Australasia Rule in Fantastic Final
Australasia 2-12 NAB 2-9 (aet)
Parnell Park was the venue for the 2nd Ladies Gaelic Football World Cup Final on Friday 22 September. The usual chants of ‘Up the Dubs’ were replaced with the unfamiliar but no less emotive ‘Lets go USA, Lets go’ and ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi’.
It took 20 minutes of extra time to separate the two teams and in the end it was jubilation for the Australasians and heartbreak for the North Americans who had also lost the inaugural final to London two years ago.
Both teams put up a fine display of women’s football where the commitment throughout was second to none. For Australasia the victory was truly a team effort. In goals, Anna Haynes was outstanding. All six backs covered for each other and defended in numbers. Edel O’Gorman was inspirational at midfield and proved deadly accurate as the main free-taker. In the forwards, captain Simone Cairns, Julia Boyle and Catriona McGahan all caused problems when in possession.
In the opening minute of the game, Australasia were awarded a penalty when full forward Julia Boyle was fouled. Renae Campbell blasted the ball just over the crossbar for their first point. During the next few minutes, chances were missed at both ends before Laura Wall opened North America’s account with a point from play having received the ball from Catherine Burke.
With 10 minutes gone, North America were awarded a penalty when Anna Browne fouled Lisa Morrissey close to goals. Wall’s strike from the spot was pushed onto the crossbar by keeper Haynes. Wall collected the rebound and shot again but Haynes made another excellent save. At this point North America were desperately unlucky not to get a goal as unbelievably three more shots, one after another, all came off the posts and the ball was eventually cleared. The Australasian’s counter attacked and when Tish Campbell fouled Catriona McGahon, the free was converted by Simone Cairns.
In the 19th minute, Wall set up Morrissey for a lovely point which was quickly followed by another from Debbie Levins and the North Americans were n the lead for the first time. But after 25 minutes a free conceded by Linda Woo was pointed by O’Gorman and the sides were level.
North America saw two chances go wide from Mary McLoughlin and Levins before Sinead Cullinane pointed to put them ahead again.
In the closing minute of the half a well worked move by Australasia was expertly finished by Sue Smith who buried the ball to the back of the net which left Australasia leading 1-3 to 0-4 at half time.
Four minutes into the second half and O’Gorman put them further ahead with a point from play. With both sets of defenders on top further scores were hard to come by as the play swung from end to end. With 12 minutes gone, McLoughlin converted a free for North America. From the kickout, Cullinane gained possession and slotted over another point.
Australasia replied with a point from Louise Gianaostino. O’Gorman had two chances from frees but the first came back off the post and the second went wide. With 19 minutes gone, Boyle scored a great fisted point as the North American defence closed in to block any kick. This left Australasia clear by 2 points. But the lead changed hands again as Fiona Mulherne pointed and then Wall set up Burke for a goal. The Americans lead was short-lived as in the next attack, a mix-up in their defence allowed O’Gorman bury the ball to the back of the net from close range.
O’Gorman followed this with a pointed free one minute later. Burke and O’Gorman trailed points in the closing minutes leaving North America 3 points adrift. One minute into injury time Wall evaded two defenders and produced a brilliant goal from a very narrow angle to bring the two sides level and force the game into extra time.
Cullinane struck first for North America with a point 4 minutes into extra time. It wasn’t until the 10th minute that O’Gorman pointed from a free after she had been fouled by Mulherne. At the end of the first period of extra time the teams were still level. O’Gorman pointed from play with 5 minutes of the second period gone. When McGahon was fouled a minute later, O’Gorman duly converted the free. Australasia now had their heads in front and McGahon pointed from play 30 seconds later to open up a 3 point gap. Try as they did North America could not break out of defence and the last few minutes belonged to the Australasian attack and the 3 wides produced were as good as points as the game drew to a close.
Anna Haynes, Vicki Arvidson, Renae Campbell (0-1), Angi Doyle, Melissa Lee, Sophie Lee, Louise O’Neill, Anna Browne, Edel O’Gorman (1-7), Tracey Ward, Simone Cairns (0-1 capt), Louise Gianaostino (0-1), Catriona McGahon (0-1), Julia Boyle (0-1), Sue Smith (1-0).
Tammy Pollici, Tish Campbell, Fiona O’Brien, Rose Horan, Joan Reen, Charlotte Curran, Linda Woo, Catherine Burke (1-1), Karen Kinsella, Kathleen Murray, Lisa Morrissey (0-1), Sinead Cullinane (0-3), Debbie Levins (0-1, Mary McLoughlin (0-1), Laura Wall (1-1).
Sub: Fiona Mulherne (0-1).
The Association has continued from strength to strength in 2000. In October, we hosted a very successful Australasian Championship. The championships saw the SA senior and minor teams compete for first time in 5 times and the first ever South Australian ladies gaelic football team. The current season has 10 11-a-side men’s and 5 11-a-side women’s teams. A total of eight games are played each week on Friday and Sundays nights at Brighton. Both membership and spectator numbers are at their highest levels in the 33-year history of the Association, and things are only going to get better.
Year Hannigan Cup Jim Farnan Cup
1999 Onkaparinga Na Fianna
2000 Na Fianna Glas Laoch
2001 Na Fianna Na Fianna
Hurling: Coming soon
Year Tom Finn Memorial Cup Mna Cup
1999 Celtic Mna Banshees
2000 Banshees Banshees
2001 Banshees Banshees
Senior Football: 1971, 1973, 1983
Minor Football: 1978, 1979, 1985, 1987
Past President’s and Secretaries
Year President Secretary
1997 Norm Murphy Kieran Farrell
1998 Norm Murphy Ben Hollister
1999 Norm Murphy B J Lawlor
2000 Norm Murphy B J Lawlor
2001 Sean Dunne N J Lawlor
Postal Address: GPO, Box 21, Adelaide, South Australia 5001
Office: State Association House, 1 Sturt St, Adelaide, South Australia
President Sean Dunne Home: 83871912 firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President Gerard Roe Home: 83225815 email@example.com
Secretary B J Lawlor Home: 82641362 firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Finance Kathleen Somerville Home: 82898082
Registrar Tara McAssey Home: 83817327 email@example.com
Director of fundraising & social activities Wendy Rocca Home: 82664637
Committee Sandi Best Home: 83273727
Carly Brooks Home: 83223852 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bronwyn Hickey Home: 82626557
Eddie Howlett Home: 83227486 email@example.com
Mark Leverett Home: 83693290 firstname.lastname@example.org
Paddy McGuinness Home: 83961812 email@example.com
15th December 1999:
The 2000 Gaelic season will be even bigger with the inclusion of two new men’s teams. The Irish Australian men and Glenelg Gaels will join the competition from January. Glenunga have withdrawn from the 2000 season so there will be 8 men’s teams and 5 women’s teams. Matches will be spread over two nights, Friday and Sunday, with 4 matches on Friday and 2 on Sunday. There will also be a minor football match schedules at 5.00 pm each Sunday. And there will be yet another increase in on the field players from 9 to 11.
12th December 1999:
The Banshees women and Na Fianna men are celebrating after the Banshees won the Mna Cup and Na Fianna won the Jim Farnan Cup in the 1999 season grand finals. Both teams went through the entire season undefeated and deserved their victories. The Women’s grand final between the Banshees and Onkaparinga was a classic match. Last time they met, the Banshees won by just 5 points in an extremely tough match. The Banshees maintained a good lead throughout the final but Onkaparinga, spurred on by a large crowd, made a late run at the end of the second half. Two quick goals left a margin of just 3 points and another point made the deficit just two points. However, time ran out for Onkaparinga and the Banshees held on to win the inaugural Mna Cup in just their first season. The men’s grand final between Na Fianna and Flinders O’Neills saw two very different halves. The first half was very close with the ball moving from one end to the other at an incredible speed. Na Fianna took a small lead into the half time break and then came out firing. A quick goal sent them on their way and when an O’Neills player was sent off to leave them with just 8 on the field, the game was all but over. The final margin was a massive 20 points and handed Na Fianna the inaugural Jim Farnan Cup, also in their first season. The 2000 Gaelic Football season commenced on the 14th January 2000.
6th December 1999:
Week 7 saw two women’s semi finals to see who will play for the Mna Cup. The Banshees (1st) played the Shamrocks (4th) in the first semi-final. Scores were close throughout the match but the Banshees finished the game off much better than the Shamrocks and came out with a 12 point win. In the second semi-final, Onkapringa (2nd) lead through most of the game to defeat the Irish Australians (3rd). In the men’s matches, Na Fianna defeated Onkaparinga in preparation for their grand final appearance against Flinders O’Neills next week. St Brendan’s defeated Woodville to finish 3rd and Flinders O’Neills defeated Glenunga.
27th November 1999:
The long awaited top of the table clash between Na Fianna and Flinders O’Neills turned out to be a one-sided affair. Both teams went into the match undefeated but the Na Fianna men were all class and won by 16 points. However, the two teams will play again for the inaugural Jim Farnan Cup in two weeks time after other results which mean neither can be moved from their 1st and 2nd positions on the ladder. Christies Beach registered their first win of the season and moved off the bottom of the ladder by defeating Woodville. St Brendan’s and Onkaparinga played out a thrilling match with St Brendan’s falling over the line by just 1 point. And the Na Fianna women played a magnificent second half into a strong wind to defeat the Irish Australians and give them their first points of the year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to lift them into the top 4 with next week’s women’s semi-finals between the Banshees and Shamrocks (1st v 4th) and Onkaparinga and Irish Australians (2nd v 3rd). The two winners go through to play for the Mna Cup on December 10th.
20th November 1999:
For the second week in a row, the 6.00 pm men’s game saw a draw. Christies Beach have been improving every week and finally got their first points on the board when they drew with St Brendans. The Onkaparinga women cemented their 2nd place on the ladder with a hard fought win over the Shamrocks. The game was extremely close but Onkaparinga pulled away at the end of the second half for a 7 point win. Na Fianna women played their best game of the season but the Banshees still came out with an easy victory in the end to remain undefeated and on top of the ladder leading in to the semi finals. Glenunga upset last years Hannigan Cup winner Onkaparinga with an easy 13 point victory and the Na Fianna men regained top spot by beating Woodville in the final game of the night. Next week will see the final women’s match before the semi finals between Na Fianna and the Irish Australians. This match will determine which two teams go through to play the Banshees and Onkaparinga with 3 teams fighting for 2 positions.
13th November 1999
Week 4 of matches saw some of the closest games of the season so far. Glenunga and Woodville had to take on the heat as well as each other in the first match of the night. Glenunga lead throughout most of the game but Woodville came back in the last half and scored a goal with just seconds to go to level the scores which resulted in the first draw of the season. The Flinders O’Neills, St Brendans match was a great game with the lead changing many times during the game. It was another come back effort through that saw Flinders O’Neills take the points to maintain their position on top of the women’s ladder by defeating the Irish Australians in a game that was much closer than the score showed. Na Fianna men maintained their unbeaten record in defeating Christies Beach but the Na Fianna women lost their second match of the season. The match between them and the Shamrocks was another close game with scores level with just minutes remaining but the Shamrocks came through for their first win of the season.
6th November 1999:
It has been a big week for the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of SA with it finally being confirmed that we will host the 2000 Australasian Gaelic Football and Hurling Championship. After months of uncertainty due to the Sydney Olympics, it was announced this week that the games will go ahead in mid-October. Dates and venues will be confirmed in the next few weeks.
Week 3 of matches saw some of the best Gaelic football matches this season. Onkaparinga defeated an improving Christies Beach in the first game of the night. Flinders O’Neills moved to the top of the men’s ladder with an easy victory over an inexperienced Woodville team. The only women’s match of the night saw the top two teams go head to head. The Banshees were the eventual winners over Onkaparinga in a very tough and close match. Another close match was between St Brendans and Glenunga. Glenunga made a late charge but St Brendans held on to record a 2 point victory, their first of the leason. So after three weeks, it is Flinders O’Neills leading the men’s from Na Fianna who have a game in hand. Banshees have taken top spot from Onkaparinga in the women’s competition.
30th October 1999:
Week 2 of matches saw difficult conditions with rain during most matches. The Na Fianna men maintained their position on top of the men’s ladder by defeating Glenunga in a very tough match. The Irish Australian women played their first match under their new name. Formerly Celtic Mna, the team has changed their name and become the sister club to the Irish Australians in Sydney. It was a successful move, bringing up their first win of the season over the Shamrocks. The a Fianna women made their long awaited debut in the second women’s match. However, they were outclassed by a very strong Onkaparinga. Flinders O’Neills made it 2 from 2 with a win over Christies Beach and Onkaparinga brought up their second win of the night with a win over Woodville in the men’s league. So after 2 weeks, it is a Fianna leading the men’s ladder, followed closely by Flinders O’Neills. Onkaparinga lead the women’s ladder winning their opening two matches.
The Na Fianna Mna started as favourites after winning last seasons Tom Finn Memorial Cup but Onkaparinga jumped away to an early lead which they maintained throughout the match. The lights came on for the men’s game between Na Fianna and St Brendans. The first half was very even with Na Fianna leading by 3 points at half time. However the second half was all Na Fianna who kicked 5-5 to St Brendans, 2 points to give the Na Fianna men a victory on debut. Last seasons Hannigan Cup winners also lost, but only just. In the best game of the night, Flinders O’Neills defeated Onkaparinga by 2 points. The second women’s match saw both the Banshees and Shamrocks playing for the first time with the Banshees taking the 2 points for the win in a good match. In the last match of the night, Christies Beac began well and scores were tight at half time but a strong second half saw Glenunga bring up their first win for the season. So after the first week it is Na fianna leading the men’s ladder and Onkaparinga leading the women. Next week will see the debut of the Na Fianna women and the return of Woodville.
12th October 1999:
Ireland 2-16-10 (7-) def. Australia 0-16-14 (62)
Ireland defeated Australia in the first match of the Compromise Rules series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last Friday in front of more than 64,000 people. It was a great match with Ireland’s skills too good for Australia’s toughness. The next match is here in Adelaide at Football Park on this Friday night.
Another big crowd is expected and the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of SA will be there in force with over 200 players and members attending the match.
Meanwhile, on Monday night the GFHA of SA hosted a function for all the visiting players, officials and supporters of the Adelaide Irish Club. It was a great night with over 400 people filling the hall. The players were all introduced to the crowd and the team manager, Colm O’Rourke was presented with a plague to commemorate their visit to Australia. A special presentation was also made by Norm Murphy, President of the GFHA of SA to Joe McDonagh, GAA President to thank him for all his support of Gaelic games in South Australia. A ball signed by all the players on the team was raffled raisin g a considerable amount of money for the Association.
28th September 1999:
Issue 6 of “On the Ball”
27th September 1999:
Na Fianna 5-4 (19) def Celtic Mna 2-4 (10)
Na Fianna and Celtic Mna fielded their strongest and biggest teams in what was probably the best ever womn’s gaelic football seen in South Australia. In the first 7 minutes, Cassandra Atkinson from Na Fianna scored three goals to give Na Fianna an early lead which they maintained throughout the match. Last years best and fairest, Cassandra was in fine form, scoring all 5 goals for Na Fianna. After the match, both teams celebrated the success of the matches during the winter with a BBQ in the Parklands under a perfect Adelaide sky. It was the last match as both teams prepare for the start of the season on Friday 22nd October.
22nd September 1999:
Next season will now be even bigger with a 5th women’s team taking the total number of teams to 12. This includes 5 new teams: Christies Beach men, Na Fianna men and women, Onkaparinga women, Shamrocks women and Banshees women. The season starts on Friday 2nd October.
A week before the start of our season is the big match between Australia and Ireland in the compromise Rules series. The second match is being played at Adelaide’s Football Park on Friday 15th October. On Monday 11th October, we have the pleasure in hosting a function for the team at the Adelaide Irish Hall. It is the only function the team will be attending while in Adelaide and should be a great night.
12th September 1999:
Na Fianna 7-1 (22) def Cletic Mna 3-6 (15)
The Na Fianna women fielded their strongest team this season to defeat Celtic Mna. Scores were tight in the last half but 3 goals in the last few minutes sealed the win for Na Fianna. By all reports, all players played well.
Next match is Sunday 26th September at 2.00 pm with a BBQ after the match to celebrate the success of the matches.
29th August 1999:
Preparations for the next season of Gaelic Football in SA are now well advanced. Final team numbers will be finalised in the next week or so, but it is expected that a record 6-7 men’s teams and 4 women’s teams will take part. After an agreement from all teams, the number of players allowed on the field will be increased from 7 to 9 creating the first ever 9 a side gaelic football competition. The season will commence on Friday 22nd October 1999. Each week there will be 5 matches played on Friday nights at Brighton Rugby Union Football Club, with 3 matches to be played under lights. The first Grand Final will be on the 10th December 1999. Teams will return on January 14th 2000 with the Hannigan Cup final to be played on March 10th 2000. The 1999/2000 season will be the biggest season of Gaelic Football in South Australia in many years and is a remarkable improvement considering the Association was on the brink of collapse just last year.
1st August 1999:
St Brendans 2-2 (8) def Celtic Mna 1-4 (7)
St Brendan’s women led all the way to defeat Celtic Mna in a good game of women’s gaelic football. Well lead by Maureen Lawlor in goals and Christine Yelland at full back, they managed to hold off a fast finishing Celtic Mna. A J O’Donnell was at her best for Celtic Mna and kept them in the game during the first half. Next match is Sunday 15th August.
4th July 1999:
Celtic Mna 5-5 (18) def St Brendans 2-5 (11)
29th June 1999:
It may be the off season for gaelic football in Sa but the women are determined to keep fit and be well prepared for next season which will start in October. Fortnightly on Sundays, St Brendans have been playing Celtic Mna at T.K. Shutter Reserve at Kelmzig. So far there have been 2 great matches with skills continuing to improve, as well as player numbers.
Meanwhile, preparations are well under way for next season. Again, all matches will be played at Brighton Rugby Union Football Club which was a huge success last year. However, rather than a Friday night, matches are likely to be played on a Sunday evening to allow even more games to be played. Team nomination forms will be sent out in the next few weeks and we are likely to see the biggest season of gaelic football in South Australia in many years.
4th May 1999:
The AGM of the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of SA was held on Wednesday 28th March and saw most committee members re-elected for another year. The exception was our Secretary, Ben Hollister, who had to vacate his position due to a move overseas. He will be missed very much and we wish him luck in his move. For the first time in a few years, a full committee was actually elected, including a Public Relations Officer, which has always been a position hard to fill. The new committee has a big job over the off-season in organising the next season which will start in October. Up to ten men’s 7 a side teams and 3 or 4 women’s 7 a side teams will compete which will require either a venue with two grounds or two separate venues. Work will also start soon on organising the 2000 Australasian Gaelic Football and Hurling Championship to be held in Adelaide.
The new committee is:
President: Norm Murphy
Vice-President: Sean Dunne
Secretary: B J Lawlor
Treasurer: Maureen Lawlor
Registrar: Kieran Farrell
PRO: Gavin O’Reilly
Social Convenor: Bronwyn Hickey
Committee Members: Michael Lawlor
12th April 1999:
Australia completed a clean sweep of the International Rules series against Ireland at Football Park in Adelaide yesterday. The Under 17 series was a preview to the October series when Ireland will send a senior team to Australia. One game will be played in Melbourne and it is hoped the other game will be played in Adelaide.
Game 3: Australia 1-18-15 (75) def Ireland 4-5-4 (43)
30th March 1999:
15th March 1999:
Friday 12th March was Grand Final night down at Brighton. Celtic Mna and St Brendans battled it out in the women’s Grand Final. Celtic Mna won the match. However, all girls were awarded medals to thank them for their great work in getting women’s gaelic football off the ground in SA. We look forward to next season when there will be even more teams.
Ladies Gaelic football in South Australia is taking hold. 1989/99 was the first season with two teams taking part, St Brendan’s (now Na Fianna) and Celtic Mn (now Irish Australians) – sister club to the Irish Australians GFC in Sydney). In fact Celtic Mn was started by 2 girls from Sydney, Alma O’Donnell and Marlene Nicol, who organised the club once they moved from Sydney to Adelaide. This season sees the addition of three new clubs (Onkaparinga, Shamrocks and Banshees) playing in the Mna Cup and Tom Finn Memorial Cup competitions in a season, which runs from October to April with a break in December.
The Mna Cup 1999
The first competition of the season has already been completed and saw new club Banshees crowned Mn Cup winners. A great achievement in their first year of competition.
BJ Lawlor, who is the Secretary of the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of South Australia is very encouraged by the recent developments commenting. We have just finished our October-December season with five 9 a side women’s teams. Two of the teams, Shamrocks and Banshees are made up of mostly Australian Rules players. The other teams all started with a few Irish girls who wanted to play and the teams have grown with their friends. Most had no football experience before they started but the standard has improved every single week. BJ, like most of the Irish girls in Adelaide is Australian born but has strong Irish connections. BJ’s father hails from the Kingdom. Ladies football started off as a 7 a side competition, progressed to 9 a side for this year’s Mna Cup and will be expanded to an 11 a side for the Tom Finn Cup. A sure sign of steady progress being made.
Both the mens and women’s competitions have been played as a 9 a side game with the aim to return to the traditional 15 a side s the growth of the sport continues. The 11 a side games will be played on a shortened pitch with 5 substitutes allowed with unlimited substitutions, BJ explains why. This is due to the heat. Unlike all other states in Australia, we play during the summer as we found it difficult to compete with Australian Rules during winter and in a hope of reviving what was almost dead, we moved to a summer season. The move has been extremely successful and we would not have started a ladies competition without it. Interesting they are also the only state in Australia to play under flood lights. Games are played on Friday nights at Brighton, about 15km south ease of the centre of Adelaide and very close to the beach.
South Australian Facts
New rules from the GAA of Australasia now mean that all players must be insured before playing. The new policy established means to maximum cost per player of $30 and covers injuries to both players and officials. Also for the first time each player will receive a rule book so there will be no excuses for not knowing the rules! In an effort to encourage umpires and lines people there is a payment of $7 for each person per game with the referee being paid $15 per match.
South Australia is hosting the Australasian games this year. They will be held at the Norwood Oval, Adelaide from Wednesday 18 October to Sunday 22 October 2000.
The MNA Cup 1999/2000 Season
Onkaparinga 3-11 Irish Australians 2-3
Shamrocks 1-2 Banshees 3-9
Shamrocks 2-3 Irish Australians 3-13
Onkaparinga 8-4 Na Fianna 2-3
Onkaparinga 3-4 Banshees 4-6
Irish Australians 0-6 Banshees 9-3
Na Fianna 5-2 Shamrocks 4-8
Onkaparinga 5-5 Shamrocks 2-7
Na Fianna 0-5 Banshees 4-9
Na Fianna 3-6 Irish Australians 1-7
Banshees 3-10 Shamrocks 1-4
Onkaparinga 4-3 Irish Australians 0-5
Onkaparinga 3-5 Banshees 4-4
The Tom Finn Memorial Cup
The first semi final saw Banshees take on the Irish Australians. A very close half saw the game evenly balanced at half time but a superb second half display from banshees gave them a convincing victory (8-19 to 2-3). The Onkaparinga women turned the tides on Na Fianna in the second semi final., They led the entire match and despite some goals from Na Fianna they progressed to the final (3-10 to 4-1) and a replay of this year’s Mna Cup Final.
The season finished on a high with a huge crowd at Brighton to witness the Tom Finn Memorial Cup final (women) and Hannigan Cup (men). Both finals began with the teams being piped out onto the ground and the playing the National Anthems. The Banshees had yet to be beaten since entering the competition but Onkaparinga had come close on a number of occasions.
The game was very tight at the start of the first half with neither team able to pull away before Banshees edged ahead going into half time. This continued on into the second half and despite a big effort from the Onkaparinga girls they were unable to pull back the lead and the Banshees run out 7 point winners scoring 60-3 to 2-8.
Match report: BJ Lawlor.
Onkaparinga coach Gerard Roe, took some positive points from the game. “We were a lot closer to the Banshees than the score suggests and it is the first time any team had more scoring shots than them 10 to 9, so roll on next year!”.
Banshees captain, Karen Whenan is rather unique in that she plays and manages the team as she explains, “I got involved in managing the team as I wanted to play gaelic football, so I entered a team and by default had to manage it. We don’t have a coach and have learnt the rules and skills of the game by playing our matches each week”.
Karen is Australian as are the whole team with only a few being of Irish descendant. “Our team consists of players from an Australian Rules background, so the transition from an oval ball to a round ball was not too hard, as the games have very similar skills required – marking, kicking and ball handling”.
The run up to the final was positive as Karen comments. “The whole team was looking forward to the match with nervous confidence. Since joining the competition, we had yet to lose a game and we were hoping that this would not be our first. Our final opponents, Onkaparinga, had provided us with a thrilling final for the Mna Cup (which was a wonderful win and a fantastic start for our novice team), so we were not under-estimating them, even though we had a good win over them in the preliminary round. Our players, to their credit, have continue to improve their skills and were playing exceptionally well as a team”.
And of the match itself, Karen was delighted. “The game was of a very high standard and Onkaparinga played extremely well, and to our jubilation, the Tom Finn memorial Cup was ours at the end of the match. It was a thrilling victory that the team enjoyed immensely – it felt good to win again in our first season. Every single player is looking forward to our next season….hopefully we will elude our first loss”.
New South Wales
The Sydney News
Jacqueline Conway is a young Derry girl making a name for herself in ladies football, not on the banks of the Foyle as you might expect but thousands of miles away in sunny Sydney. Amazingly, Jacqueline never played football at home but since moving to Australia she had been making up for lost time. She travelled to Sydney over four years ago, ‘to get away and see something else’. Although she already new someone from home out there, Jacqueline soon found out that the women’s gaelic football scene was an excellent way to socialise and make friends.
She joined Central Coast as a beginner and has gone from strength to strength since. At the club the girls train Tuesday and Thursday nights (2 hour sessions) and then play matches on Sundays. They also find time too for the occasional party and weekends away visiting various Australian attractions.
For any girls travelling out to Australia for the first time, they need not worry as Jacqueline explains, “The Sydney based girls always look after the new players travelling out, providing temporary lodging where necessary and providing valuable local information and contacts. The set up is like being part of an extended family”. In fact Jacqueline’s stay of 4½ years is largely down to the football. “It was the football that kept me there so long”. Last year, Jacqueline captained the Central Coast team to its most successful year to date on the playing fields of Sydney.
They won the League competition, the Shield competition and were only narrowly beaten in the Championship final.
Jacqueline attributes this success to mentor and coach Dave Hyland – “Dave is a fantastic coach” – and to the increased involvement of the Australian girls. “Over the last two years, more Aussies are getting involved on a more permanent basis. We have 6 Australian girls on our team and we have built the team around these girls together with the 5 Irish girls who have been out for a number of years”. The remainder of the team is made up from Irish girls who are passing through Sydney for short periods of time. Melissa Lyon (NSW) has been playing for 3 years and is the current club secretary. She was awarded the most improved player in 1998. Jo Pancia (NSW) joined the club last year after having already played in London. Sue Heaney (NSW) joined the club last year after a spell with the Irish Australians. Cathy Hughes from Adelaide is the longest serving Aussie. She captained NSW to victory in the 1998 Australasian games. Sisters Kathyrn and Carole Donaghy (Queensland) complete the ‘Australian Six”. Kathryn won the Player of the Year Award in 1999.
The Ireland v Australia International series last year has also contributed to increased participation. “It is amazing how many Aussies now recognise Gaelic football especially since the combination rules games between Ireland and Australia”. From a raw beginner in 1996 Jacqueline won the NSW Best and Fairest title in 1998. In the Shield final last year she had an inspired performance marking Cusack’s danger woman Marie Killeen (Clare) and leading her team by example. Jacqueline was also a substitute on the Australasian All Star team for two years running. This year she had gone one better and will be representing the Australasians at the International Gaelic Football Festival in September. Jacqueline is definitely a player with a future and hopefully on her return to Ireland in a couple of years time she will continue her football career with club and county on home ground.
Western Australian women have been sporting the Gaelic Football field since 1994 when a St Patrick’s Day scratch match generated a league of our teams; Greenwood, Southern Districts, Thornlie and St Finbarr’s. The initiative was well supported by all members of the Irish community especially the affiliated men’s clubs who coached the ladies teams to their successes. 1994 also saw the selection of the first WA State Ladies Football team and thus the beginning of the Ladies Australasian competition. Prior to the development of the West Australian Ladies Team, New South Wales was the only state with a ladies team. The WA ladies League is now thriving with a fifth team, Morley, entering the competition. Liza Magennis was a player at the original St Patrick’s Day scratch match and sees great progress being made. “As a player from the first match, I can definitely recognise how the level of skill, commitment and popularity of this sport has progressed”.
John Boyle O’Reilly Cup
This seven a side tournament, organised by the Morley Gaelic football club, was played during the first two weeks of March.
The ladies clubs were well represented with Morley beating Finbarettes in the first semi final (2-4 to 1-2) and Greenwood seeing off Finbarr All Stars in the second (1-7 to 0-3). In the final, Greenwood ran out winners on a score of 2-1 to 1-2.
Magennis Perpetual Trophy
This competition was held at the St Patrick’s Day Sports Carnival on Sunday 19th March. Once again Morley and Greenwood battled it out in the final but this time Morley winning by 0-11 to 0-8.
Greenwood: Mary Blake 08 9401 0255
Southern Districts: Damien McCague 0412 199 127
Thornlie Shamrocks: Marion Leonard 08 9490 5052
Morley: Damien Beausang 08 9444 –571
St. Finbarr’s: Louise McCague 0412 199 127
Australasian Ladies Team to travel to Ireland in September 2000:
Michelle Abbott, Louise Giana Gostino, Louise McCague, Tracey Ward.
Julia Boyle, Anna Brown, Simone Carirns, Anna Haynes, Jean Sophie, Narelle Saward, Martina Whelan.
Collette Byrne, Angi Doyle, Louise O’Neill, Jackie Peacock.
Jacqueline Conway, Daveena Doyle, Teresa Hoare, Catriona McGahan, Edel O’Gorman, Suzanne Toomey.
Cathy McCahill, Lyn Pedruco
Manager: Damien Beausang, Perth
Assistant Manager: Tina Carey, Sydney
The top two teams all year were Clovercrest Gaels and Onkaparinga, so it was only far that they both ended up in the Grand Final. It was a fantastic match and a great way to finish off the season. Both teams showed great skills and throughout the entire game the score was extremely close. However, there could only be one winner and thanks to a last minute goal, Onkaparinga won by just two points. Its was a great effort considering this was their first season and they were playing a team who has been in the competition for many years. Congratulations Onkaparinga.
10th December 2000:
Grand final report:
The ladies grand final between the Banshees and Onkaparinga was a repeat of the last two grand finals, both of which were won by the Banshees. The first half was extremely close with the Banshees holding a one goal lead just before half time. But a penalty to Onkaparinga just before the whistle levelled the scores at 2-2 at half time. An early goal and point to Onkaparinga in the second half gave them a 4 point lead with the Banshees looking in trouble of losing their first ever game. The Banshees fought back to regain the lead with scores locked at 3-5 to 3-3 for a long time. The Banshees then goaled again and from then on, the game was theirs. The Banshees held Onkaparinga to just one point for the rest of the game, eventually running out 9 point winners to maintain the Mna Cup.
The men’s final was a fitting end to an extremely close season. Glas Laoch and Na Fianna were the two top teams during the season, Na Fianna just stealing top spot after their one point victory over Glas Laoch in the week before the semi finals. It was a perfect start for Glas Laoch, scoring a point and a goal in the first 2 minutes. Na Fianna worked hard for the rest of the first half, scoring a goal themselves and eventually levelling the scores. But it was Glas Laoch that took a one point lead, 1-8 to 1-7, into half time thanks to a point just before the whistle. The second half belonged to Glas Laoch, slowly increasing their lead out to 6 points. A Na Fianna fight back only saw them score 2 points, Glas Laoch going on to win the Jim Farnan Cup and inflict the Na Fianna men with their first ever lose.
4th December 2000:
A welcome relief from the heat produced perfect conditions for the semi-finals on Friday night. The Banshees totally outclassed the Shamrocks in the first ladies semi finals. The Banshees built a match winning lead within the first 15 minutes and increased it throughout the game. The final margin was 27 points with the Banshees going into next week’s finals as strong favourites. The first men’s semi final between Na Fianna and St Brendans was a close game. Na Fianna maintained a narrow lead throughout the game and ran out 5 point winners. The Onkaparinga v Irish Australians ladies semi final was another close game but it was Onkaparinga the eventual winners by 6 points to set up a replay of last years finals. The second men’s semi final saw Glas Laoch v Onkaparinga for the second time in a week. Again, it was Glas Laoch with the victory, this time by 8 points to set up what should be a great grand final again Na Fianna.
30th September 2000:
A record 15 teams representing 12 clubs will compete in the next season of Gaelic Football in South Australia. There will again be 5 women’s teams with all teams from last year returning for another season. Glenelg Gaels and Woodville are the only two men’s teams not returning next season. However, there will be 3 new men’s teams: Ard Macha, Killian Reds and Marion Sharks. And after not competing in the 99/2000 season, one of the most successful Gaelic Football clubs in SA, Clovercrest Gaels, will return for the 2000/2001 season. All games will again be played at Brighton Rugby Club with 4 games on Friday nights and 3 games on Sunday nights.
Meanwhile, it is just under 3 weeks to the start of the Australasian Championships. It will be a big week for Gaelic Football in South Australia with the SA men’s and minor teams making their first appearance at an Australasian Championship since 1995. The SA women will be making their debut at an Australasian championship. On Saturday 7th October, the players will be presented with their jerseys presentation night being held at the Irish Hall from 7.00 pm.
7th September 2000:
Today saw the departure of the Australasian teams for the International tournament in Ireland. The past few weeks has been promotion on both TV and in the print media and a fundraising function for the South Australian representatives. The teams now include 4 players from SA. Ken Fay has been added to the men’s team and Sinead Roe to the women’s team, joining Karen Whenan and Lisa Buss. An article purlished in the Messenger newspapers all around Adelaide highlighted Karen and Lisa’s move from Aussie Rules to Gaelic Football. On Friday 25th August, Karen and Lisa were guests on AM Adelaide, a local chat programme on Channel 7, discussing the tour to Ireland and upcoming Australasian Championships. On Saturday 26th August, a fundraising function was held in the Irish Hall for all the players and was a huge success raising well over $1,300. The popular horse racing night saw a record $123 paid for one horse, Pride of Paringa, which topped the $121 paid for Fianna Flash earlier in the night.
We wish all SA players the best of luck in Ireland and hope the Australasian men’s and women’s teams can take out the titles of best International Gaelic Football teams.
Meanwhile, final team numbers are being confirmed for next season but it will almost certainly be another record season, topping last years 13 teams. More on the first game on Sunday, Ard Mhacha took a big lead into half time but the second half was all the Irish Australians. However, time ran out for the irish Australians, Ard Mhacha bringing up their first ever win with a 3 point victory. Onkaparinga and Christies Beach were level at half time but Onkaparinga ran away with the game in the second half, maintaining their unbeaten record this season. The Irish Australian ladies were no match for the Banshees ladies, Banshees winning by 12 points. In the final game on Sunday, the Shamrocks took it right up to the Onkaparinga ladies but Onkaparinga managed to hold on for a 6 point win.
8th October 2000:
With just one and a half weeks before the start of the Australasian Championships here in Adelaide, all 3 SA state teams were presented with their jerseys last night. A crowd of over 120 people filled upstairs in the Irish Hall to witness the naming of the first SA senior and minor teams in 5 years, and the first ever SA ladies team. All 3 teams will be aiming to win SA’s first Australasian Championship in 13 years.
The teams are as follows:
Andy Gordan (Onkaparinga) Nick Cox (Flinders O’Neills)
Gary Stanley (Onkaparinga) Gavin O’Reilly (St Brendans)
Kris Hennessy (Na Fianna) Craig Henderson (Flinders O’Neills)
Jason Fay (Na Fianna) Neil Cross (Christies Beach)
Damien Smith (St Brendans) Dave Gemeri (Onkaparinga)
Neil O’Reilly (Na Fianna) Brian Fearson (St Brendans)
Mick Lawlor (Na Fianna) Andrew Davidson (Na Fianna)
Toby Kildare (St Brendans) John McSherry (Christies Beach)
Andrew Strawbridge (Onkaparinga) Chris Ryan (Irish Australians)
Tomas Connor (Onkaparinga) Tom Javor (Na Fianna)
John Hargreaves (Irish Australians) Michael Brown (Na Fianna)
Mick Egan (Onkaparinga) Peter Henderson (Flinders O’Neills)
Rob Barrachina (St Brendans)
Captain: Mick Lawlor
Vice-captain: Jason Fay
Coach: Mick Egan
Assistant Coach: Kevin Rooney & Peter Henderson
Manager: Damien O’Hagan & Sean Dunne
Joanne Bathern (Onkaparinga) Sandra Best (Onkaparinga)
Lisa Buss (Banshees) Alicia Clutterham (Banshees)
Grainne Dunne (Irish Australians) Marleen Dunne (Irish Australians)
Caitriona Fay (Na Fianna) Cassandra Farrell (Na Fianna)
Rajdi Gemeri (Onkaparinga) Toni Giles (Na Fianna)
Trudy Glazbrook (Banshees) Petrina Harris (Banshees)
Lisa Jenkins(Banshees) Karen McKay (Banshees)
Carolyn Pickering (Irish Australians) Debbie Pittman (Irish Australians)
Sinead Roe (Onkaparinga) Jacqui Stanford (Onkaparinga)
Tara Standord (Onkaparinga) Ruth Stewabridge (Onkaparinga)
Nancy Tidswell (Na Fianna) Michelle Thomson (Irish Australians)
Kylie Tulloch (Banshees) Karen Whenan (Banshees)
Coach: Gerard Roe
Manager: Mary O’Hagan
Assistant Manager: Andrew Korff
Con Stefanidis Christian Cooper Liam Kelly Matthew Hill
Nick O’Connor Sean O’Hare Scott Minion Paul Kree
Jason Reed Lincoln Hall Daniel Burnside Allan Heatley
Simon O’Callaghan Jamie Phillips Daniel Fletcher Andy Ladhams
Luke Madigan Ben Nickholson David Annandale
Coach: Jason Fay
Assistant Coach: Tom Javor
Manager: David Emery
14th August 2000:
Read the latest issue of On the Ball (14/8/2000), Newsletter of the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of South Australia.
3rd May 2000:
The Annual General Meeting of the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of SA was held on Tuesday 2nd May and saw a full committee elected for 2000/20001. Only 4 people were re-elected in the same position, namely
President: Norm Murphy (Christies Beach),
Vice-President: Sean Dunne (St Brendans),
Secretary: BJ Lawlor (Na Fianna)
Social Convenor: Bronwyn Hickey (Na Fianna)
Treasurer: Kathleen Somerville (St Brendans)
PRO: Toni Giles (Na Fianna)
Registrar: Cassandra Farrell (Na Fianna)
Committee: Gerard Roe (Onkaparinga)
Alma O’Donnell (Irish Australians)
Shane O’Donnell (Irish Australians)
John Somerville (St Brendans)
Eddie Howlett (Irish Australians)
Kieran Farrell (Na Fianna)
Norm Murphy presented a details Preisdent’s report highlighting the “enormous leaps and bound the Association has made over the past 12 months in reviving and maintaining Gaelic Football in SA”. They included:
• The increase from a 7 a side competition with 5 men’s teams and 2 women’s teams to an 11 a side competition with 8 men’s teams and 5 women’s teams.
• A big increase in the standard of gaelic football being played.
• Support from the Office for Recreation Sport including $5,000 for the implementation of a school’s programme which is now under way.
• 2 very successful visits from the GAA in Ireland for the International Rules Series in April (Under 17s) and October (Seniors)
• The best presentation dinner in the 35 year history of the Association.
The Treasurer’s report was also very positive with an overall profit of $1,100 for the year, up from $400 in 98-99 and a loss of $1,700 in 97/98. It also saw a huge increase in turnover, up from $12,000 in 98-99 to over $28,000.
The new committee will be involved in the busiest year in the history of the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of SA. In October, we will host the Australasian Championship for the first time in 8 years and will include 3 teams representing SA (Seniors, Minors and Women). Also in October our third summer season will commence and is likely to include even more teams. Negotiations are currently underway with Mitcham Council to maintain a home ground for Gaelic Football in SA. The ground at St Marys is an Aussie Rules ground and is available for lease during summer. It is large enough to hold a full size Gaelic Football pitch or 2 smaller 7/9-a-side pitches. There are plans to develop the ground and the existing clubroom and changing rooms facilities.
27th March 2000:
Presentation Night Report:
Saturday 25th March saw the annual presentation night of the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of SA at the Walker’s Arms Hotel. It was the largest presentation night in over 5 years, attended by over 160 people. The highlight of the night was the best player counts. Throughout the season, referees awarded votes to the best 3 players of each game. The winner of the women’s best player was Karen Whenan, captain of the Banshees, winning by 9 votes. Karen played at half back all season and was almost unpassable. It was a well deserved victory as she will be SA’s only representative on the Australasian women’s team to travel to Dublin in September. The men’s best player went to Liam Hennessy, captain of Na Fianna, who won by 7 votes. Liam played mostly at full forward and was the highest scorer all season. It was quite a coincidence that the 2 captains of the winning teams from the 99/2000 season won the best player awards. Karen was presented with the Mna Cup and Tom Finn memorial Cup by Maura Finn and Liam was presented with the Jim Farnan Cup by the Farnan family and the Hannigan Cup by Anne McGuinness.
Team Awards: Team Awards:
Jim Farnan Cup: Na Fianna Mna Cup: Banshees
Hannigan Cup: Na Fianna Tom Finn Memorial: Banshees
Individuals Awards Individuals Awards
Most Promising Player:
Alan Heatley (Flinders O’Neills) Most Promising Player:
Michelle Thomson (Irish Australians)
Most Improved Player:
Ben Kenny (St Brendans) Most Improved Player:
Anne-Marie Marchioro (Na Fianna)
Best Minor: Brendan Roe (Onkaparinga)
Sean O’Hare (St Brendans) Best Minor:
Tara Stanford (Onkaparinga)
Liam Hennessy (Na Fianna) Best Player:
Karen Whenan (Banshees)
Top 5 votes: Top 5 votes:
23 – Liam Hennessy (Na Fianna) 22 – Karen Whenan (Banshees)
16 – Mick Egan (Onkaparinga) 13 – Tara Standford (Onkaparinga)
14: Jason Fay (Na Fianna)
Ciaren McAssey (St Brendans) 10: Ruth Strawbridge (Onkaparinga)
13: Neil O’Reilly (Na Fianna) 9: Trudy Glazbrook (Banshees)
11: Steve Gladwin (Christies Beach)
Damien Smith (St Brendans) 8: Sinead Roe (Onkaparinga)
Jackie Caston (Banshees)
12th March 2000
Grand Final Report:
The 1999/2000 season finished on a high with a huge crowd at Brighton to witness the Tom Finn Memorial Cup final in the women’s competition and the Hannigan Cup final for the men. Both grand finals began with teams being pipped out on to the ground and the playing of the national anthems. The Banshees and Onkaparinga women’s grand final was up first. The Banshees had yet to be beaten since entering the competition but Onkaparinga had come close on a number of occasions. The game was very tight at the start of the first half with neither team able to pull away before the Banshees edged ahead going into half time. This continued on into the second half and despite a big effort from Onkaparinga, they were unable to pull back the lead of the Banshees, who ran out 8 point winners. The men’s grand final was expected to be very tight with both Na Fianna and Onkaparinga, the two stand out teams of the 2000 season. However, the game was all but over about 10 minutes into the first half. Na Fianna fielded their strongest team all season and were all class. Onkaparinga continued to fight to the end but were no match for Na Fianna who ran out 30 point winners. It was a fantastic end to the best season of Gaelic Football in SA for many years.
6th March 2000
Friday 3rd March was semi final night at Brighton. The first match was between the Banshees (1st) and Irish Australians (4th. A very close first half saw the game evenly balanced at half time but a superb second half from the Banshees gave them a convincing victory and their second grand final appearance. Na Fianna (1st) and Christies Beach (4th) played in the first men’s semi final which was expected to be a one sided affair. Christies Beach fielded their best team of the year and at half time Na Fianna led by just one goal. The second half was just as close but a few goals to Na Fianna gave them a ten point victory. The Onkaparinga women (2nd) turned the tides on Na Fianna (3rd) in the second women’s semi final. Onkaparinga led the entire match and despite some goals from Na Fianna they were unable to stop nkaparinga from setting up a replay of last seasons grand final. The final match was the game of the night. The Onkaparinga men (2nd) defeated St Brendan’s (3rd) easily during the season but this was a much different match. The two teams were also inseparable but some missed opportunities from St Brendan’s meant Onkaparinga fell over the line
By just 3 points.
29th February 2000
Round 7 Report:
Round 7 began with the ladies match between Onkaparinga and Irish Australians. Back in round 3 the two teams scored a thrilling draw and proving just how close the two teams are, they played another draw in round 7. Both team missed opportunities in the final minutes with the final score being Onkaparinga 2-8, Irish Australians 3-5. The second game of the night was between St Brendans and Na fianna and was probably the highest quality match seen all season. St Brendans came out firing, scoring the first goal of the match but at half time Na fianna led by 2 goals. However, Na Fianna stepped up yet another gear in the second half to come out convincing 26 point victors. The third match was between Onkaparinga and Woodville and was dominated by the Onkaparinga defence which kept Woodville to just 1 point. In the final match on Friday, the Irish Australian men brought up their first victory over Flinders O’Neills.
24th January 2000:
Round 2 Report:
In the first game of Round 2, the Banshees beat the Irish Australian women to remain undefeated since entering the competition in October 1999. St Brendans and Christies Beach rfound out another thrilling match. In Round 5 of last season, they drew but this time St Brendans came out with a 2 point victory despite a desperate effort from Christies Beach in the final minutes. Woodville defeated the Irish Australian men to bring up their first win in almost a year. In the final match on Friday night, the Na Fianna ladies defeated Shamrocks in a high scoring match, which saw 14 goals scored.
On Sunday, the Na Fianna and Irish Australian ladies had to back up after their Friday night matches. It was another close match with the Irish Australians holding on to record a 2 point victory. The Onkaparinga Flinders O’Neill game was expected to be the best game of the round but Onkaparinga totally outclassed O’Neills to win by 18. In the final match of Round2, Na Fianna continued their unbeaten run with an easy 38 point victory over the Glenelg Gaels who were playing just their second game.
So at the end of Round 2, Na Fianna take top spot in the men’s competition, followed closely by Onkaparinga and St Brendans, all of whom are undefeated this season. In the women’s competition, the Banshees are on top followed by Na Fianna, Onkaparinga and Irish Australians who all have one win.
7th February 2000
Round 4 Report:
Round 4 began on Friday with very hot and humid conditions after a top temperature of 40 degrees during the day. The first game saw the clash between the undefeated sides of Onkaparinga and St Brendans. The game was a one sided affair with Onkaparinga convincing winners. The Glenelg Gaels brought up their first ever victory by defeating the Irish Australians by 5 points. In the final match on Friday night, Christies Beach moved into 4th by defeating Flinders O’Neills.
Sunday began with the rescheduled women’s match between Onkaparinga and Shamrocks. There was plenty of pressure with the game being filmed by SBS television. It was very tight in the first half but Onkaringa ran away in the second half. The Na Fianna men remain undefeated after beating Woodville. Once again it was close in the first half but Woodville were outclassed in the second half. And it was the same story again with the Banshees Na Fianna game. Just 2 goals separated the teams at half time but the Banshees ran out with a 20 point win.
So at the end of Round 4, Onkaparinga remain top in the men, just 6 points ahead on score difference from Na Fianna with St Brendans and Christies Beach making up the top 4. In the women’s competition, the ladder remains unchanged with the Banshees on top followed by Onkaparinga, Irish Australians and Na Fianna in 4th.
The highlight of Round 5 will be the huge men’s game between Onkaparinga and Na Fianna on Sunday 13th, the winner likely to finish top at the end of the season.
31st January 2000:
Round 3 Report
Round 3 kicked off on Friday 28th January and began with Woodville defeating the Glenelg Gaels for their second consecutive win, placing them in 4th spot. St Brendans continued their excellent form in 2000 to defeat last years grand finalists Flinders ‘Neills who have yet to record a victory in 2000. The Shamrocks put up a great first half effort against the Banshees but were outclassed in the second half, the Banshees still undefeated.
In the final match on Friday night, Christies Beach gave the Na Fianna men a real scare in the first half with Na Fianna up by just 5 points at half time. However, the Na Fianna men responded in the second half keeping Christies to just 3 points to win by 21.
Sunday saw the big Irish Australians, Onkaparinga double header. First up were the men with the Onkaparinga men kicking a huge 14 goals, 14 points to Irish Australians just 7 points. The women’s match was a much closer affair was the match of the season so far. Onkaparinga led mid way through the second half but the Irish Australians lifted to level scores with just minutes remaining. Neither side could score in the final minutes wit the final result a fitting 3-6 draw.
So at the end of Round 3, Onkaparinga have taken top slot in the men’s competition, followed closely by Na Fianna and St Brendans with Woodville in 4th place. In the women’s competition, the Banshees are on top followed by Onkaparinga and the Irish Australians with Na Fianna in 4th.
Round 4 will see some great match, the highlight being the clash between Onkaparinga (1st) and St Brendan 3rd who have both yet to lose a game in 2000.
(Adelaide – Oct 2000)
Western Australia 1-7 Victoria 2-3
South Australia 3-4 Queensland 1-3
New South Wales 4-8 Victoria 0-3
Queensland 1-3 Western Australia 0-3
Western Australia 4-13 South Australia 2-2
New South Wales 1-8 Queensland 1-6
South Australia 3-5 Victoria 1-4
Western Australia 2-4 South Australia 0-8
Queensland 0-3 Victoria 0-2
New South Wales 2-8 South Australia 1-2
New South Wales 3-10 South Australia 0-4
Western Australia 0-9 Queensland 1-5
New South Wales 3-6 Western Australia 0-6
Australasian Team 2000
1 Lisa Jenkins South Australia
2 Karen Whenan South Australia
3 Teresa Hoare New South Wales
4 Jacqui Page Queensland
5 Edel O’Gorman New South Wales
6 Tertia Dex Queensland
7 Mary Kelleher Queensland
8 Daveena Doyle New South Wales
9 Catriona Fay South Australia
10 Tina Colloton New South Wales
11 Natalie O’Rourke Western Australia
12 Renee Moynihan Queensland
13 Roseanne Ryan New South Wales
14 Suzy Dwyer Western Australia
15 Delia Kerr New South Wales
Corrine Smirk Western Australia
Tiffany Hazelhurst Western Australia
Cathy Stewart Western Australia
Trudy Glazbrook South Australia
Sinead Roe South Australia
Connie Vardounitis Victoria
Leah Serllars Victoria
Anne Marie Dargan New South Wales
Melissa Lee Queensland
Jacqui Peacock Queensland
Player of the Tournament Award: Edel O’Gorman (New South Wales)
Australasian Championships 2001
This year the annual competition will be held in Sydney, New South Wales in October.
Adelaide Season 2001
The Tom Finn Memorial Cup semi-finals
Onkaparinga 6-11 Shamrocks 6-4
Banshees 2-3 Irish Australians 1-1
The first ladies semi final was expected to be a one-sided affair. Onkaparinga (1st placed after the preliminary rounds) had gone through the season losing just one game, whereas the Shamrocks (4th placed) had won just one. The first half lived up to expectations with Onkaparinga taking a good lead into half time.
The second half saw the Shamrocks score 6 goals and at one stage, come within 4 points of the fancied Onkaparinga side. However, the fitness of the Onkaparinga team was superior and ensured they ran out winners by 7 points.
In a total contrast to the first semi final, the second ladies semi final between Banshees (2nd placed after the preliminary rounds) and Irish Australians (3rd placed) was a very low scoring game. The Banshees kept Irish Australians scoreless in the first half but could only score two goals themselves. The Irish Australians did manager to score 1-1 in the second half but it was not enough to catch the Banshees who eventually won by 5 points.
Banshees 4-6 Onkaparinga 1-8
The 2000/2001 Gaelic Football season concluded on Friday 9th March with the playing of the Tom Finn Memorial Cup final in the ladies competition and the coveted Hannigan Cup final in the men’s competition. The sidelines at Brighton were full, the largest crowd seen at any GFHA of SA grand final night in many years.
The ladies grand final was between Onkaparinga and the Banshees. Both teams completed the minor rounds with just one loose (to each other but neither team was convincing in their semi final victories. It was the Banshees who made the better start and they took a strong early lead.
However, an Onkaparinga goal just before half time lifted the spirits of Onkaparinga. The second half again belonged to the Banshees who were playing their best football all season. In the end, the Banshees ran out comfortable winners, taking their fourth consecutive grand final in four seasons.
Report by: BJ Lawlor.
Brisbane Season 2001
Ladies football is taking hold in Brisbane, Queensland as Dorelle Hegarty told Gaelic Women recently. “Although this part of Australia is largely undiscovered by the vast amount of traveller to Australia, it has good friendly people, warm temperatures and 6 ladies football clubs – John Michael, Sarsfields, Easts, Souths, Harps and Shamrocks.
The successful Australasian touring side of 2000 to Ireland boasted 5 Queensland representatives. Queensland are just starting to establish themselves as a gaelic force in Australasia as seen at the most recent State games in October 2000, where we were just knocked out in the semi final by one point, having been plagued with injury.
Ladies football is obviously taking hold and not just amongst the travelling Irish as Dorelle explains, “In Queensland we are attracting much local talent. Australian born girls are dominating our numbers in Brisbane and sports such as Touch Football, Rugby and Soccer are giving way for these talented athletes to discover the absolute joys of women’s football. We are nearly at the stage here in Queensland where it will be an accredited sport with our Government. I understand the negotiations are well under way”.
Dorelle, a member of the John Michel’s Club, describes how the club started off. “John Michel GFC was established in 1987. The ladies team was born in 1998 when the ladies competition in Brisbane became serious in the same year. The men have been very successful and have been major competitors in every year. In 1997, the men make a clean sweep of all 4 trophies completed for in that year. They were unbeaten throughout the season and would go down as one of the vest teams that Australasia has ever produced.
Unfortunately the ladies cannot claim such accolade, we had disappointing years in 1998, 1999 and 2000, quite often not fielding a full 15. But I am very happy to say that for the 2001 season we have recruited an accredited Level 2 Coach (albeit Rugby and Touch Football) who knows how to coach. Not just somebody who knows the game but someone who can actually teach our girls the skills of the game, nutrition and fitness, tactics and team play. WE started training in February and already we have 25 girls at our training sessions. We train at Yeronga Gaelic Football Club at 6.30 pm every Wednesday evening and all games are played at our Association Headquarters at Gaelic Park, Willawong.
The social side of the sport is not neglected as Dorelle shows why. “All our clubs were represented at the St Patrick’s Day parade, which culminated in a big session at Dooleys Hotel in Fortitude Valley. The St Patrick’s Day sports day at Gaelic Park, Willawong followed on Sunday 18th. The Gaelic Games community in Brisbane is really one big happy family and I think that is due to the leader we have enjoyed for many years – Seamus Sullivan. At the QFA we enjoy each others competition and then the company in the bar afterwards. When there is a song to be sun, it doesn’t matter what colours you are wearing……..”
The Brisbane seas officially started on Sunday 25 March this year.
John Mitchels, Brisbane
With the current season well under way the newly formed John Mitchels Ladies club has had mixed fortunes to date. Of the five games played so far they have won one and lost four. However, the girls have not given up as player/manager Dorelle Hegarty explains, “Many of our players are relatively new to the game and the team is still in the learning process. But John Mitchels Ladies are shaping up to be a good all round team”.
The team is made up of a mix of students and full time workers. At present, thee is only one mother on the team in Trudi Kealy who has two children. The club are also privileged to have a former Olympian in their midst. Basketball Bronwyn Marshall has played over 100 games for Australia and competed in 2 Olympics – Los Angeles and Seoul. Now turning her hand to football, Bronwyn plays at full forward for John Mitchels. At six foot, she is a handful for any opposing fullback as she has no trouble plucking high balls right out of the air.
The John Mitchels full squad for this season is as follows:
Christine Rice, Delyse Woodman, Ingrid Schwartz, Bronwyn Marshall, Samantha Holdsworth, Nicola Eillis, Kylie Alexander, Georgie Bertman, Susi Vardy, Julie Herbert, Trudi Kealy, Rachel Newtown, Dorelle Hegarty, Sal Cranny, Tamlyn Rudolph, Carley Howe, Miriam McMahon, Jaime Ward, Stacey Hunter, Lauren and Bez.
Coach: Llewellyn Jones
Managers: Dorelle Hegarty and Jenny Berkman
Brisbane Ladies ladder after Round 1 (Brisbane Shield)
The first round has now finished with Harps GFC have won it outright winning all five matches in the round.
1. Harps. 2. Shamrocks. 3 Souths. 4 Easts. 5 John Mitchels. 6 Sarsfield.
On the development side, Gaelic Football has just recently been accredited with the Australian Sports Commission, which will provide all the States the opportunity to access more funding to promote the sport.
The Australian General Secretary, Gerard Roe is presently completing a Level 1 Coaching Course, which will be submitted to the Sports Commission for approval. Once approved the course will be delivered in clubs and schools throughout the county. Gerard has also been busy providing Referees Courses in the various States around Australia, something which has been welcomed everywhere.
Women from the West
In 1994 the women of Perth decided it was time to try their hand at playing Gaelic football instead of just supporting husbands, friends and family. The women’s league was born. It comprised of 3 teams, St Finbarrs, Greenwood and Thornlie. Greenwood were to be the first winners of the League and MNA Cups for that year.
The following year proved to be somewhat a shock to the existing teams with the inclusion of Southern Districts. Southern Districts commenced with a group of 33 enthusiastic women and from the very first game showed a dominance that was to continue for the next five years. During that time St Finbarr’s proved to be strong opposition to become the eventual league winners in 2000 after a draw in the last fixture, both team finished equal on the ladder with a rematch scheduled. St Finbarr’s finally ended Southern Districts domination with an easy win.
This was to be reversed 2 weeks later in the MNA Cup. During this domination Southern District won the league five years in a row and won the MNA Cup five out of the six years of their inclusion in the league. This year Greenwood have emerged as the team to beat.
In 1997 Morley joined the competition to replace Thornlie who rejoined the league in 2000. The league now has 5 teams and is looking to expand in 2002 to at least 6 teams.
Western Australia has also been successful in the National Championships. Exhibition matches between two NSW teams and the Western Australian team in 1994, has now seen six women’s teams compete in the championships. Western Australia has made the grand final of the National Championship in Brisbane 1998 and Adelaide 2000. Both grand final matches were hard fought matches with Western Australia losing to NSW in each final by a very small margin. Western Australia had beaten NSW for the first time in Adelaide 2000 during the preliminary rounds.
Indicative of the strength of the women’s league in the West, there were eight WA representatives in the victorious Australasian team competing in the 2000 Board Failte World Cup played in Ireland.
A recent opportunity to showcase our game was an exhibition match played as the curtain raiser to the International Rules Touring Under 17s Third Test at Fremantle Oval. The two competing teams were selected from the local competition with the Western Gaels coming out winners on the day.
Anyone interested in playing Gaelic Football in Perth should contact Sean O’Casey – President of the GAA of WA on (08) 9361 1530 or email June Turtle – Public Relations Officer, GAA of WA – firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Australia News
Gaelic football in South Australia continues to expand and develop unabated. The GFHA of SA has recently joined with the Gaza Australian Rules Football Club to create a second venue for Gaelic Football in Adelaide. The intention is to attract more players from the North Eastern suburbs where the pitch is based. With the new season starting in September, the Association will run both a men’s and ladies nine a side competition at Gaza from October to March, with matches played under floodlights.
Also the GFHA of SA’s dream of obtaining its own home ground will become reality in October when matches commence at St Mary’s Park, which is located 10km south of Adelaide. The Association have signed a 5 year lease on the ground with the option of a further five years. With the ground currently undergoing a major re-development by the local council, the GFHA of SA is funding $40,000 for the installation of floodlights to allow matches to be played at night.
The GFHA of SA are also looking forward to the 2001 Australasian Championship which re being held in Melbourne (Gaelic Park, Keysborough) from Wednesday 3 October to Sunday 7 October. They will be sending one of the largest ever contingents from the area in the form of three teams; senior men, ladies and minor men.
Clan na Gael recently won the 2001 League competition in Sydney. The final turned out to be a one sided game against old rivals Michael Cusacks with the final score reading 3-15 to 0-3. It is the first time that Clan have won the league in the last five years and this win make up for the disappointment when they narrowly lost the final to Central Coast last year (3-5 to 2-6).
The Queensland Gaelic Football Association provides for four competitions during the season. The first is the Brisbane Shield, which sees the top two teams in the league after round one competing in the final. The second competition is the Gaelic Athletic Association Trophy, which sees the top two placed teams after the third round competing in a final. The League Trophy is awarded after the completion of the fourth round to the club at the top of the table at this point. Finally the Championship is played after the league in a knock out format with clubs seeded according to their league performance.
The Harps GFC have already won the Brisbane Shield this season and are currently leading the table by a huge eight point margin going into the third round. At this point, John Michel’s and Shamrocks are currently in joint second place with Souths just a further two points behind.
1994 was Greenwood Ladies Gaelic Football team inaugural season. At that stage there were three women’s teams in the competition. It ahs now grown to five teams and the competition standard is improving rapidly. Since that year many players have passed through our club, each one making an important contribution, helping us to build the Greenwood Gaelic Football club we know today.
Last year four members of greenwood Ladies GFC were selected to represent Australasia in the 2000 Bord Failte World Cup. There were a total of eight representatives from Western Australia, which indicates the strength of our team even last year.
It was the first time a Ladies Australasian team had taken part in the world cup and they took the honours of World Cup Champions in extra time against the North American Board in the Grand Final. Season 2001 is shaping up to be our best, with a pre-season clean sweep, (St Patrick’s Day and Monaghan Cup) and currently undefeated holding ‘top spot’ in the league.
Greenwood ladies accredit this success to the team’s dedication to training and strong leadership from coach Rob Strahan and captain Tracey Ward. Greenwood GFC sees a balance of experience and new enthusiastic blood in our line-up giving us the winning combination we are showing our opposition each week. Rumour has it that we are call the ‘Dream Team’.
Another important point to raise is the fact that ewe have a very small percentage of Irish players in our squad. We have been able to put together our team accomplish a high standard of Gaelic football with the majority of our players having no Irish background at all. A sure sign of the way Gaelic football is growing in Australia and the devotion to improve purely for the love of one of the fastest developing women’s sports.
With such success at club level, many players have been encouraged to take part in state trials to represent Western Australia in the 2001 Australasian Games being held in Melbourne in October. Greenwood representatives would certainly like to continue their winning streak in Melbourne too.
With only two more rounds to be played in the league, it is certainly decided that the Greenwood ladies will take out the league undefeated for 2001. This deserved victory will be the first victory for many of the team members.
Greenwood Ladies GFC – 2001 League Winners
Jane Padgett, Nic Maslen, Rebecca Mason, Marieke Johnson, Anna Haynes, Nicole Lambert, Andrea Clarey, Sam Bannister, Claire Spillman, Shan Locke, Lisa Ammoscato, Catherine Wilkinson, Sandy Khan, Louise Giannogostino, Renae Campbell, Lorraine Carolan, Tracey Ward, Kristy Hubbard, Aine Kerr, Lydia Padgett, Anna Giumelli, Gemma De Knock, Pia Kilburn, Linda Towill.
Ladies Gaelic football is certainly alive and kicking in Sydney, New South Wales. There are currently 4 teams in the competition – Clan na Gael, Central Coast, Michael Cusacks and Irish Australians playing in a season which runs from April to August.
The Central Coast club host a pre-season warm up competition around St Patrick’s Day each year and this gives clubs a chance to try out new players and assess the strength of the opposition. The league begins shortly afterwards with the league finals taking place in June. The championship competition runs from June until August with the Shield competition rounding off the seas in late August.
The first ladies gaelic football competition in Australia was played in Sydney in 1991. That year saw three teams compete in the championship – Central Coast, Michael Cusacks and Young Irelands. Michael Cusacks won that very first championship defeating Young Irelands 4-9 to 4-3 in a thrilling final.
The Michael Cusacks girls went on to dominate ladies football in Sydney in those early years winning all but one of the major competitions between 1992 and 1994. 1995 saw the emergence of the Clan na Gael ladies as a force to be reckoned with as they took all three major titles back to Bondi. The competition also expanded to four teams that year with the Irish Australians club entering a ladies team. Michael Cusacks continued their reign of dominance up until the late 90s. Since then, the spoils have been pretty evenly split between Central Coast, Michael Cusacks and Clan na Gael.
The 2001 season saw Clan na Gael make a clean sweep of New South Wales titles winning the championship, league and shield in comfortable fashion. Having been beaten by Michael Cusacks in the Central Coast pre-season competition, the Clan girls balanced the score by defeating Cusacks 2-15 to 0-3 in a one-sided league final. The Best and Fairest award went to the league’s top scorer, Tina Culleton, who scored a massive 2-11 in the final.
Clan went into the championship final suffering only one defeat at the hands of Central Coast. The Coast girls had also enjoyed a successful championship campaign and were keen to add a championship title to their list of accolades – a title which has eluded them over the years. On the day Clan na Gael came out as deserved victors and clinched their 3rd championship title in a row. Final score – 2-18 to 1-1. Best and Fairest for the championship was Clan’s playmaker, Edel O’Gorman, who had an exceptional season at midfield and was instrumental in the team’s success. The Clan girls topped off a great season with a shield final win over old rivals Michael Cusacks.
Clan na Gael ladies celebrate after 3 in a row championship win.
Emer Laffan, Caitriona Brennan, Louise O’Connor, Sinead Murphy, Cath O’Brien, Paula O’Dowd, Edel O’Gorman, Tara Dunne, Emma Blake, Christine Noonan, Yvonne Doyle, Karen Walsh, Erin Mallon, Annette Nash, Miraim Nash, Sara Casey, Siobhan O’Shea, Ciara McConville, Angela McDermott, Helen Somers, Maggie Keown, Gillian Gogan, Anne Marie Dargan, Tina Culleton, Marcella Doyle, Anne Marie Curran, Ciaran Myuckian (trainer), Mal Murray (Manager).
The standard of ladies football in Sydney has increased immensely over the years. As the sport grows in popularity in Ireland so too does the standard improve here in Sydney. Most clubs have a solid base of Australian residents or Irish girls on long term business visas and these players are supplemented with the influx of backpackers which arrive each year on one year working holiday visas. In an effort to promote the game and increase participation a Ladies Development 7 a side competition was set up in 2001. This competition targeted beginners and less experienced players and provided a platform for these girls to play against players of their own standard.
The competition ran in parallel with the 15 a side competition with matches played at the same location. The NSW committee allocated a pitch and erected 7 a side posts for each of the games.
A skills session took place before each match and all participants were given a run down on the rules, with particular emphasis on the most commonly committed fouls. The competition was a resounding success with over 30 girls getting involved.
The rate of improvement among many of the players was phenomenal with most lining out on the starting 15 for their respective4 clubs towards the end of the season. Plans are already in place for a similar competition next year.
Participants in the Ladies Development 7 a side Championship Final
Marie Dervan (Longford), Neryl Mather (NSW), Kate Gardiner (NSW), Aisling Byrne (Wicklow), Sinead Murphy (Limerick), Alev Onen (Scotland), Angela Ganley (NSW), Christine Noonan (Limerick), Emma Blake (Limerick), Diane Guiney (Limerick), Grace Murphy (Kerry), Annette Nash (Kildare), Miriam Nash (Kildare), Ciara ‘the Bomber’ McConville (Armagh), Helen Mulvaney (Westmeath), Louise O’Connor (Limerick), Deirdre Kelliher (Cork), Siobhan O’Shea (Cork).
Training for this year’s State Games has begun and is being closely monitored by trainer Ciaran Muckian and manager Deanne Stephenson. NSW expect stiff competition in this year’s competition. Last year’s beaten finalists, Western Australia and the competition host’s Victoria, will be teams to watch out for.
Anyone interested in playing gaelic football in Sydney should contact:
Central Coast: Siobhan Walsh, email email@example.com (tel: 0061 403827179)
Clan na Gael: Anne Marie Dargan, firstname.lastname@example.org , website www.clannagael.asn.au, (tel: 0061 293653757)
Irish Australians: Michelle Fitzgibbon, Mfitzgibbon@Blackmores.com.au, website www.irishaustralians.com. (tel: 0061 29716 9661)
Michael Cusacks: Deanne Stephenson, email@example.com, (tel: 0061 297449260).
NSW Ladies Team – Winners of the Australasian Gaelic Games 2000
Eddie Maloney (Assistant Trainer), Theresa Haore (capt), Edel O’Gorman, Meredith Allen, Davena Doyle, Roseanne Ryan, Derrick Keating (Trainer), Suzanne Toomey, Deanne Stephenson (Manager), Katie McDermott, Catherine Donaghy, Siobhan O’Shea, Helen Clarke, Ciara McConville, Kathy Hughes, Anne Marie Dargan, Tina Culleton, Pauline Maher, Catherine Ganley, Delia Kerr, Monica Smith, Anne Gong.
NSW Panel 2001
Catriona Brennan (Clan na Gael), Tina Culleton (Clan na Gael), Anne Marie Drgan (Clan na Gael), Carol Donaghy (Central Coast, Daveena Doyle (Michael Cusacks), Tara Dunne (Clan na Gael), Catherine Ganley (Central Coast) Katie Gardiner (Michael Cusacks), Gillian Goggin (Clan na Gael, Josie Kelly (Central Coast), Delia Kerr (Central Coast), Eimear Laffan (Clan na Gael), Wenona McBride ( Michael Cusacks), Suzie Moran (Central Coast), Edel O’Gorman (Clan na Gael), Trish Rediy (Michael Cusacks), Deane Stephenson (Michael Cusacks), Suzanne Toomey, Siobhan Walsh (Central Coast), Tammy Wawwwrzyniak (Michael Cusacks).
Queenslands Panel 2001
Michelle Cubis, Trudi Kealy, Genevieve Healy, Doreele Hegarty, Teria Dex, Shannon McCartney, Melissa Lee, Natalie Hughes, Angela Doyle, Emma Kelly, Wendy Rogers, Lynda Clift, Christine Rice, Pauline McStavick, Jacqueline Peakock,
Megan Oliver, Adele Johnson, Karen Willows, Hammah Humphreys, Carol Hunter, Jessica Rodriques, Georgina Berkman, Jennifer Berkman, Bronwyn Bassett, Donna Furey, Coach, Glenn Carpenter, Assistant Coach, Llew Jones, Manager, Leith Poulsen.
The West is Awake
The West is truly awake after Western Australia won their first ever Ladies Football Championships at the 2001 games played in Melbourne in October.
The championship commenced on Wednesday 3 October with resounding wins for Western Australia over Victoria and Queensland over South Australia. It was evident then that the winner of the championships would come from Western Australia or Queensland both of whom were showing the results of much developmental work they had carried out over the previous two years or New South Wales who had won the championships for the previous three years. Victoria who put a lot of effort in during the season in the area of recruitment of new players produced a team of many young players who showed promise in their game against NSW.
SA who were hit badly in the two weeks prior to the games with the withdrawal through injury of seven players were never in the hunt against Queensland in the first half of their game. They trailed 4-12 to nil at half time and their bad luck with injuries continued when they lost their vice-captain Kylie Tulloch before half time with a calf tear. Their second half was much better conceding only 2-3 to 0-1 but their misfortune was compounded when an AC joint injury meant the end of the championships for Trish Bennett.
Day two saw an upset win for Queensland over NSW with Angie Doyle from Queensland playing the game of her life in midfield. So dominant were Queensland that even with Edel O’Gorman playing excellent football, NSW were restricted to only one point. Queensland’s defence superbly led by Tertia Dex and Melissa Lee blanketed the ever-dangerous Tina Colloton and Daveene Doyle to lead their team to their first ever win over their opponents. There was almost another upset when SA lost by a point to Victoria. Indeed had Sinead Roe’s shot near the end of the game gone into the goals rather than hitting the crossbar, SA could have won. Best for Victoria was Cony Vardouniotis and for SA it was their goalkeeper and captain Lisa Jenkins.
Playing their second game that day, SA were no match for a rampant WA side ho by now were looking very much as the favourites for the championships. Their win was set up by excellent play all over the ground by a full team effort. Fred McCormack, the coach of the WA team was able to provide some respite for his running players such as Tracey Ward and Renae Campbell by substituting them at half time when his team led 4-7 to nil at half time.
On day three, WA’s early favouritism received a jolt against NSW when they went down by a point. Edel O’Gorman playing a marvellous game once again was forced off the ground early in the second half with a serious hand injury, which later had to be operated on.
New South Wales throughout the game just appeared to have a little more confidence and in defence were rock solid where Tara Dunne at full back was impassible. Had it not been for the irrepressible Anna Haynes in goals for WA, then the margin would have been greater. Victoria made Queensland fight right to the end for their five point win. If Victoria had converted their scoring opportunities then it would have been a cliffhanger of a game. Cony Vardouniotis, Sophie Jean and Leah Sellars were best for Victoria and for Queensland Angie Doyle and Melissa Lee again were Queensland’s best with Wendy Rogers and Geneieve Healy also prominent.
SA’s last game of the championships against NSW was expected to be another heavy defeat especially as they were reduced to only 13 players which necessitated the Manager Mary O’Hagan and trainers Tara McAssey and Carly Brooks donning shirts. Because of this the coach ‘flooded’ the defence with an extra two players leaving only four forwards. NSW, whilst being the more skilful side found this tactic extremely difficult to overcome. Indeed when Trudy Glazbrook and Karen Mackay combined for SA to score a goal in the second half there was a hint of panic by NSW as they found it very difficult to score. When they did get through the defence they found Lisa Jenkins in goals once again in terrific form. They did however steady as a good team does and won by ten points. At the end of the game an observer would have thought SA had won such was the feeling of the team with their performance and NSW generously applauded them from the found. The results meant that WA who finished top would play Victoria in the semi finals with NSW to play Queensland in the other.
On semi final day the consensus was that WA would be too good for Victoria and that NSW would overcome Queensland. In the first game this turned out as predicted. Once again Victoria had a lot of the play but found it difficult to score. Edel Mooney was prominent for the losing team who as a defensive unit restricted WA to only seven scores over the game. Andrea Clarey and Tiffany Hazelhurst who were consistently good players over the previous three days stepped up a further gear to ensure that WA reached their second consecutive Australasian final.
In the second game of the day the majority of pundits were proved wrong with Queensland winning by three points to reach their first final. As in their previous meeting Angle Doyle was by far the best player on the ground with her skills and non-stop running. Delia Kerr in attack and Tara Dunne NSW in defence were their best players but the loss on Friday of Edel O’Gorman meant that the opportunity to rotate daveena Doyle between midfield and the forward line was lost. Best players for Queensland in a very high standard game watched by Sean McCague, Liam Mulvihill and Sean Kelly from Croke Park, were Angle Doyle, Melissa Lee, Wendy Rogers and Tertia Dex.
Grand final day arrived and the match which was played in overcast conditions turned out to be a very one-sided affair with WA winning just about every position on the field. The game was over by half time as they led by 8 points. To make matters worse Queensland lost one of their best players of the tournament in Melissa Lee with a fractured collarbone midway through the first half. No matter what moves Queensland tried, they were generally unable to penetrate a rock solid defence superbly led by Renae Campbell, Narelle Craig and Louise Gionagostino.
It appeared that Queensland had put so much effort into their win the previous day in the semi final that they were unable to show their form of the previous four days.
In the end the best team of the tournament won their first Australasian Championship and richly deserved to do so having produced some excellent football.
2001 Australasian Ladies Football Championship Results:
Queensland 1-06 WA 3-07
Victoria 1-08 NSW 5-05
Queensland 6-15 SA 0-01
Victoria 0-02 WA 1-12
Victoria 0-09 SA 2-02
Queensland 2-04 NSW 0-01
SA 0-01 WA 6-09
NSW 0-08 WA 1-04
Queensland 2-05 Victoria 1-03
NSW 2-08 SA 1-01
WA 2-05 Victoria 0-04
NSW 2-02 Queensland 2-05
WA 1-14 Queensland 1-01
2001 Ladies Football Australasian All Star Selection
Anna Haynes (WA), Cathy Stewart (WA), Tara Dunne (NSW), Tracey Davis (WA), Tertia Dex (Queensland), Edel O’Gorman (NSW), Melissa Lee (Queensland), Daveena Doyle (NSW), Angle Doyle (Queensland), Delia Kerr (NSW), Wendy Rogers (Queensland), Cony Vardouniotis (Victoria), Tracey Ward (WA), Geraldine Hawley (WA), Tina Colloton (NSW), Renae Campbell (WA), Andrea Clarey (WA), Michelle Murphy (WA), Tiffany Hazelhurst (WA), Lisa Jenkins (SA), Edel Mooney (Victoria), Leah Sellars (Victoria), Geneieve Healey (Queensland), Jacqui Peacock (Queensland).
The start of the 2001 season was possibly the biggest day of Gaelic Football ever seen in South Australia with 8 matches and all 10 men’s teams and 6 ladies teams competing. The West Adelaide ladies were in the unfortunate position of playing the Banshees in their first game. They put up a good performance but in the end were no match for the strong Banshees team who ended up winners by 16 points. The Irish Australian ladies also had a victory on forfeit against Na Fianna. The floodlights were switched on for the Onkaparinga v Shamrocks ladies game. It was a convincing win for Onkaparinga who ran out 28 point victors
St Mary’s 13 a side competition
Finals set for Friday 14 December.
Banshees 3-08 West Adelaide 0-1
Onkaparinga 7-11 Shamrocks 1-1
Irish Australians 1-4 Onkaparinga 4-5
Shamrocks 2-6 West Adelaide 4-7
Banshees 11-9 Na Fianna 0-0
Banshees (forfeit) Irish Australians
Onkaparinga 3-11 West Adelaide 1-2
Na Fianna 0-4 Shamrocks 2-11
Na Fianna 1-5 West Adelaide 1-4
Banshees 0-3 Onkaparinga 4-14
Irish Australians 3-11 Shamrocks 1-7
Irish Australians 5-6 Onkaparinga 5-5
Irish Australians 3-11 Shamrocks 1-7
St Mary’s 9 a side Competition
Finals set for Wednesday 5 December.
Irish Australians Blue 1-9 Irish Australians Pink 7-6
Irish Australians Pink 5-6 Onkaparinga 5-5
South Australia Squad 2001
Trish Bennett (Shamrocks), Sandi Best (Onkaparinga), Carly Brooks (Na Fianna), Mel Chatfield (Na Fianna), Julia Dempster (Shamrocks), Grainne Dunne (Irish Australians), Cassandra Farrell (Na Fianna), Megan Fowler (Banshees), Rajdi Gemeri (Onkaparinga), Trudy Glazbrook (Banshees), Petrina Harris (Banshees), Lisa Jenkins (Banshees), Melissa King (Banshees), Debbie Kiore (Onkaparinga), Karen MacKay (Banshees), Tara McAssey Na Fianna), Kym Marrett (Shamrocks), Michelle O’Brien (Shamrocks), Mary O’Hagan (Onkaparinga), Sinead Roe (Onkaparinga), Nancy Tidswell (Na Fianna), Kylie Tullock (Banshees), Belinda Tunno (Banshees), Kylie Weir (Shamrocks), Coach; Gerard Roe, Manager, Mary O’Hagan, captain, Lisa Jenkins, Vice captain, Kylie Tulloch.
The prestigious Best and Fairest Award for ladies Gaelic football at the 2001 Australasian Gaelic Games was awarded jointly to Edel O’Gorman (Previous winner) from NSW and Angie Doyle from the Shamrocks Club in Brisbane’s western suburbs. Angie is the first Queenslander to ever win the award and was a key midfielder for the Queensland team that made the championship final for the first time ever.
Angie Doyle, and Shamrocks team mate Jacqueline Peacock, wee named in the Australasian team to compete at the 2002 World Cup in Dublin, Ireland.
Four other Queensland representatives will join them. That comes after Angie Doyle’s stellar best and fairest performance and Jacqueline Peacock scoring a record 4 goals and 5 points for Queensland against SA as they stormed towards the goal.
Angie and Jacqueline have previously teamed up with Edel O’Gorman on the 2000 Australasian team that won the Gaelic Football World Cup for the first time last year, with O’Gorman scoring a decisive 1 goal and 7 points in the final to secure the now famous overtime victory against North America. The Australasians awards cap a hugely successful year for the Shamrocks club, in which they won the Queensland Championship for the first time.
The semi final of the Australasian Games against NSW proved to be a real cracker. Queensland kicked with a strong win in the first half to set up their 2-5 to 2-2 win, which reduced long time Queensland association executive Seamus Sullivan and Nicholas Carpenter to tears of joy.
WA, favourites going into the final, prevailed 1-14 to 1-1. Natalie Hughes – from the Shamrocks club – scored Queenland’s only goal of the final, and her second of the tournament, after an assist from club-mate Jacqueline Peacock. WA are proving Queensland’s bogey team – this year they were beaten by them in the final, and last year they lost the semi final to them by a single point. Queensland have now twice beaten three time defending champions New South Wales to make the final, and kicked a record score against South Australia including four goals from Jacqueline Peacock. Shamrocks players Angie Doyle and Jacqueline Peacock fell one title short of recording a unique treble – they were both members of the world champion Australasian team last year, and last month won the Queensland championship with Shamrocks, needing only the Australasian champions to complete the treble.
Girls doing it for themselves
The International Tournament at Noamh Mearnog provided a platform for seven international teams to take part in a meaningful competition . The cup was won by Australia for the third time in a row. The Shield was won by Canada – first time winners. The following interviews give an idea of what is happening in North America, Canada and Australasia. We covered Britain and New York in our first issue and hopefully cover Europe for the Christmas issue. Fr Liam Kelleher talks to the visitors.
Renae Campbell (Australia)
Fr Liam: Renae, you are the captain of the Australia Region team, but I think they are all Australian anyway at this time. You won the cup, could you give me a bit about your background in the sport?
Renae: Personally I go involved in Ladies Football simply through contacts. A person who I worked with played the sport and I had a soccer background. In 1999 I started, I made the Australia team in 2000 and came over here, we won the cup, we won it again in 2002 and this time in 2005.
Q: Did you play other sports before you went on to Gaelic?
Q: What is amazing this time is that every one of the Australian team are native born Australians. Was this a deliberate policy or is it just that the Irish are not there any more?
Renae: It was not deliberate. There was a number of Irish backpackers named on the side originally, but for one reason or another they did not make it. So we ended up with 25 Australians.
Q: Logistically it is a nightmare really. You have such a vast area to cover east and west to south, and a few from the north as well, to get a team together.
Renae: We have a national competition every year so all the states come together, as separate identities and play against each other. And from that competition they chose 25 panel members and they were invited to play in the competition . We came over here a week early. We trained, we had a few friendly matches again local competition, some of the club teams here, that is our preparation. That’s it.
Q: How did you find the weeks experience here? The atmosphere taking part in the International and the sevens, and going to the All Ireland Final?
Renae: The experience of playing against the Irish teams was fantastic in the lead up. In the sevens, we were a bit under the weather, basically because we won the cup the day before so we were out celebrating. Had that fallen the week before, as the lead up to the International competition, I think we may have don a little bit better than we did.
Q: In Perth, I know that there are 5 clubs, what about the other areas?
Renae: There are 5 in Melbourne, 6 in New South Wales and about 6 in South Australia.
Q: Is Australian rules big for women, in Australia, obviously not as big as the mens?
Renae: Depends where you come from in Australia, in terms of Aussie rules. It is particularly big for girls in Victoria. It is growing in other states.
Q: Is it professional?
Q: If it was, could you see some of the Irish ladies going out to play?
Q: Tadgh Kenneally won the grand final recently with Sydney Swans.
Renae: There is nothing like that for the women. It is very much amateur. Australian rules for men is the be all and end all.
Q: What have you to bring back to Australia with you that you have learned from here? The memories and how you can improve things?
Renae: To be honest, I think Gaelic in Australia will take off, but we need funding to do it. We need development officers to do it. Currently, it is run on a volunteer basis and because we are competing against so many other sports. So it is a big challenge so until we can inject some money into that, hopefully we can get into the schools and if we can do that, then kids will pick it up and I am sure they would love it. But it is very difficulty to expect people to do that on a volunteer basis.
Q: What is your role as captain and how much of an honour was it?
Renae: It was a huge honour. I don’t know what sort of a job I did at it. We had a great team, we had lots of leaders and there was lots of camaraderie, we had a very united side.
You were a great captain, congratulations and best of luck.
Nicola Graves (Australia)
Fr Liam: Nicola, can you tell me of your role with the Australian team.
Nicola: I was not necessary a manager like you have here in Ireland. We have the coaches and the managers. Sean is the manager in Australian terms. I look after the girls off the field, I guess I am the tour manager.
Q: What are your special memories of the week?
Nicola: I was here in 2000, when it first started. Obviously the Australian team has evolved and football in Australia has evolved a lot over those 5 years. This team were fitter and younger, apart from a few. They were superstars, they were fantastic athletes and the other countries could take heed of what is going on in Australia, with the development of Gaelic Football.
Q: The fact a lot of your girls have been involved in soccer and played Aussie rules as well, that kind of lends itself more to Gaelic football?
Nicola: Well you are talking to the wrong person about soccer, because I work for the Afl, I don’t care anything about soccer. I think female sport in Australia is massive, they are ready to get into anything that is new and anything that allows them to be active and provides the opportunity to travel,. In international sport, which Gaelic football has now become, it is a great honour to play in a sport that does not necessarily involve full contact. Aussie rules football is full contact. So it is half ways between the two so you have the best of both worlds. Not necessarily being tackled and not be squashed like they do in Aussie Rules.
Q: The Irish brought football to Australia and a lot of people thought that it would die a slow death, when many of the Irish came home and not so many were going to Australia, why is it getting bigger in Australia rather than going the other direction?
Nicola: I think that the International rules game has been a massive influence. Because when we speak about Gaelic football, everyone in Australia knows what we are talking about. They get confused sometimes whether it is International rules. That is a massive bonus for the sport that an International cup is played for by the men. My next job is to make sure that it is played between the women and to play against a combination of Gaelic football and Aussie Rules. That should be the next stage in the evolution in our sport between our two countries. Ultimately when you look at the last 3 world cups it was an amazing competition to be in here. At the end of the day the last 2 tournaments have not been amazingly challenging for the Australian players. We are playing a sport which is similar to your native sport in our country. It is about time that the Irish girls had an opportunity to play an international sport and about time for the Australian girls to play an international sport and its our responsibility to make sure that happens in both our counties.
Q: What about the Inter-State and Inter-Club rivalry, is it cut-throat?
Nicola: Absolutely, I coach the state side Victoria and I despise (jokingly) the others when I am playing against them. But it is always a great pleasure especially for our younger players to play in the International team. I know she won’t blow her own trumpet but as far as the captain is concerned, Renae is a real inspiration, she is a superstar, in the International competition and she is a superstar here was well.
Q: What about publicity in Australia?
Nicola: I guess it is not massive for Gaelic Football, but as Renae said it is pretty much volunteer run, but it is a sport that could be embraced by the Australian culture a lot more than it is, we are now three times world cup champions and we have got much more media attention this year than we have in the past. If we went to get more publicity, the International Rules is the way to do it. If we get the Irish girls down under playing at the MCG and in places like Perth, Adelaide and Sydney, then the whole evolution of Gaelic football will change. We will have an International option to play against the best, and that’s what the girls want to do.
Q: How did you finance the trip?
Nicola: Nearly cost a mortgage, even as a manager, I pay what the girls pay, over Aus$3,500 to get here. There were some subsidies and the ladies GAA did everything they could. There is no money in female sport, we all know that.
Q: How were you treated here?
Nicola: Brilliant, the buses cold be a bit more on time, apart from that, amazing. We were only an hour and a half late for the banquet, we came by cab, when the bus did not show up.
Q: What can you bring back to Australia from this tip that can help you to the next level?
Nicola: As I said its time the women’s AFL and Women’s Gaelic join together in Australia and link up with Ireland so that the situation can improve and help all 3 groups. They are different identities but its all about female sport and we must give the best females an opportunity to play an International sport.
A very positive note to end on, and the very best of luck to both of you in the future.
Sean Tilbrook (Australia)
Fr Liam: Well Sean, I’ve got a pretty good run down on Gaelic Football in Australia, from Renae Campbell and Nicola Graves. I actually knew quite a bit already having been to your major centres like Sydney, Perth and Melbourne on a number of occasions. Sean, fill us in on a little bit of background in your involvement in the sport and how you have brought such a good team with no Irish.
Sean: Good questions and I’ll try and answer them in turn. I have got a degree in physical education and I was interested in coaching football, like a lot of Australians, as a young man, that started to get to be the same every week in, week out, for me. I met a chap that I work with, who was from St Mary’s club in Belfast. He was on the recruiting job and he promised me all the Guinness I could drink so I joined a club called St Finbarr’s and played, and was just fascinated by the game and fascinated by the whole box and dice that came with playing Gaelic.
Like you did not join a club just to play football, you knew where everybody came from, you knew the different rivalries and the various idiosyncrasies, between different counties etc., and it really stemmed from there. I enjoyed playing and as age caught up with me, I enjoyed coaching and I actually played for the Australian team in 1996 in Dublin and the men’s manager in 2000 for what you would call the ‘compromise rules’ and took on the ladies job in 2002 and we won it again this year. So to answer the question as to why there are so many native born Australians, I think a couple of things – one is a matter of necessity. We don’t have the enormous population of Irish travellers that we used to have. Obviously the economic times in Ireland have kept a lot of people at home or they have decided to travel to the States so whereas before you could almost field ex pats sides of Irishmen in games, you had to start develop the local teams. Being an Australian myself, I got a few friends in etc.
Q: Any Irish background at all?
Sean: Apparently somebody left on a boat from Cork about 150 years ago but I’m not sure if it was actually voluntarily at that point in time.
Q: You did not want to delve into it too much?
Sean: Well we actually delved into it so much when it looked like I might actually have been from Wales, at which point, we started to get very concerned, preferring to be Irish than Welsh, but it turned out that it was all OK, she was a maid that went out with her employers and she did very well for herself. She married a sea captain that ran the ferry from Freemantle to Adelaide. But on the question of the Australian content, I think it is that a lot of athletes and Australian males will play two to three sports and in general will have a winter sport and a summer sport, and as one of the girls said, you also have a fun sport – a pick up sport, and I think Gaelic football is that, it really fills the gap between say, what you could team a ladylike sport up to basketball, netball, small court indoor sort of sports. Then the big jump is either across to soccer, which is not massive in Australia but it certainly is as good and Aussie Rules is big, as you might expect.
Q: With the women it is not happening as much as the men because I went to a number of Perth Glory games and there were 16,000 at the games and they won the Australian championship for a couple of years. But women’s soccer is not as bit, is it?
Sean: Women’s soccer is big enough, its probably the next biggest. Women’s Aussie Rules is starting to pick up, but its not professional. I think the thing with Australian Rules, as is the rugby union, which would be the biggest sport in terms of contact sports for ladies. In the domain of strong heavy girls and is something that is seen as a very demanding sport and would attract a lot of injuries, but whereas with Gaelic, it encounters full 360 degrees dynism of movement, receiving and giving the ball off, hand, eye, using your feet and hands, whereas in soccer, you are just using your feel. And the girls just take to it like ducks to water. I have actually taken girls stone cold from games like netball to have a go at gaelic and their eyes are shining, they have just fallen in love with it at the end of one training session.
And they will go out because the girls tend to be a lot more social than the gents and they will get their social network going and all of a sudden, out of 2-3 ladies you can get 8-10-15 and that’s enough to form a club, or to get a team going, so I think that’s really where the strength of it is.
Q: The showcase to pick your team is the Australasian championship, it is very competitive, it embraces various regions of Australia. There’s a leg in Auckland as well, if I remember correctly?
Sean: There is indeed. And that is why we are know as Australasian, becaue Auckland and Wellington are in the Board and the Bard are included in the central Council for the Australasian Board.
Q: So everybody being available makes pretty much your strongest team from your national championship?
Sean: This team that we have taken, I was pretty happy with the number of girls that took up the offer.
Q: It involved huge cost?
Sean: Yes, it cost nearly $4,000 and you must count the cost of wages lost, the expenses of living away from home. It’s a real commitment from the girls. They keep fit, before they come here, they do all the right things and they focus when they get here.
Q: What has been the highlight of your week, apart from winning the cup, has it been up to your expectations?
Sean: It has, one sums it up from specific incidents. We played against St Sylvester’s and Ballyboden. To come away with a points decision in a scratch match, the aim of which is to try out different combination s, but to come away with a win, was a huge boost. It was a huge feather in our cap to defeat the All Ireland champions and it attracted a great deal of attention to our team. That gave us instant credibility which is great. The second highlight is the general way the girls have been welcomed and lauded for their performances because at the end of the day, they did not really know what to expect when they came to Ireland, I suppose the ladies sport in Australia would be looked upon as secondary. The general mood on the street was great with people congratulating them.
Q: I suppose tonight said it all when they got a standing ovation when they come up to collect their trophies with over 1,000 present.
Sean: Absolutely, I suppose it is a bit cheeky to call us world champions, when you are in the same room as Cork and Galway, you would expect that they would give us a horrible beating if we had played them, but I think it would be an interesting situation if both teams were fit and prepared. Even to have that tag mentioned in the same room as the Cork’s and Galways’s, Sligo’s and Armagh’s is a great boost for the girls.
Q: You were a bit tired for the 7 a side?
Sean: The 7 a side was a bit of a disaster, the celebrating and drink got the better of the girls, we had played 7 games and won the cup so the celebrations got the better of us, so I said it was a victory for us just to be at the sevens. We lost heavily in our first game to Ballyboden, we improved for the 2nd game and lost the 3rd by a point and we won the last game by about 6 goals. So we got better as the hangovers wore off and the cream began to reach the top.
Q: What is your major ambition for the sport over the next 5 years?
Sean: The international tournament is a great event but it would be nice to see a team coming over and playing in the junior All Ireland and perhaps winning a senior All Ireland, would be an ambition, but to test ourselves we must play against better opposition.
Q: What about your status in Australia?
Sean: I know it can become a major sport in Australia, the will of the girls that play is very strong, they are very passionate about their sport. I go and preach the good word and tell people it’s a fantastic sport. I hope that the State games and National finals will grow and the standards will continue to improve and start underage competitions and that is where we need to grow.
Thanks Sean, you are going back home