Laois

The U16 won a Leinster title in 1978 and were beaten in the All Ireland semi final by Roscommon. The U16 continued during the following years winning the Leinster final in 1979. They played Tipperary in the All Ireland semi final. The score was a draw match 1-6 each. In the replay Tipperary won 4-10 to Laois 3-0. In 1980 they won the Leinster final again but were beaten in the 1980 All Ireland by Tipperary 1-7 to 1-1 at Rathdowney Co Laois. Laois win the Leinster final again in 1988 and eventually went on top win the U16 All Ireland in 1988 beating Kerry.

In 1993 Laois U14 won a Leinster final

In 1994 Laois were beaten in a Leinster final by Wexford.

Even though Laois were losing All Irelands, they were well represented on the All Star teams each year winning All Start as at all positions and some replacement All Stars.

Laois were well served by their clubs in the Club Championship with The Heath beaten in two All Irelands in 83/84 and 84/85 and went on to win the Club Championship in 85/86 bating Ballymacarbury, Waterford, and in 86/87 beating Castleisland, Kerry.

Crettyard were beaten in 1997 by Ballymacarbury

Timahoe were beaten by Ballymacarbury in 1999.

Laois clubs also ente5red the All Ireland champions seven a side cup with The Heath winning it in 1986 and winning the 7 a side Shield in 1987. Timahoe won the 7 a side championship in 1994. Crettyard reached the final on three occasions and were beaten in all three and once by Timahoe.

Mary Wheatley, Chairperson of the Laois Ladies County Board has held this position since 1978. One of the hardest working people in the business she has been involved in ladies football since 1976 when she was a found member of her local club, Crettyard. Over the decades her input has been invaluable and she had held several different positions at Leinster Council level. After 8 year acting as Treasurer, she was appointed President of the Ladies Gaelic Association from 1988 to 1991 where she worked constantly to promote the game and in deed Laois were proud to have her there.

Mary Lalor Ramsbottom was everything in Laois ladies football. She introduced the game to so many at a young age and was a tireless worker for one and all. She was the County Board in Laois, she organised everything to do with every team that fielded for Laois at any grade. She was friend, mentor, selector, water carrier, tea maker, taxi, looked after jerseys, peacemaker, fund raiser, sponsor getter, you name it, Mary was there. It was a proud day for her when Laois won their first All Ireland and all her hard work was worth it. Mary died on 29 December 2001 and is sadly missed by her friends and all in Laois lady football circles. May she rest in peace.

Year Trainer 1st Round Semi Semi Leinster All Ireland All Ireland

Final Semi Final

1985 Matt Hyland Offaly Wexford Longford Leitrim Kerry

2-7 1-4 2-9 1-1 3-3 1-4 2-9 0-5

1986 Wexford

5-14 2-3 lost

1987 Wexford

1-4 3-4 lost

1988 Tommy Garvan Wexford Westmeath Mayo Kerry

4-4 1-2 3-9 0-3 1-10 1-1 2-12 3-3

1989 Wexford

3-3 0-6 lost

1990 Steve Allen Dublin Westmeath Leitrim Kerry

3-9 1-6 3-7 1-3 3-12 1-5 1-9 0-6

1991 Steve Allen Wicklow Wexford None Waterford

3-9 1-3 3-10 0-4 5-8 3-7

1992 Bernie Conroy Wicklow Weatmeath Leitrim Waterford

1-17 0-0 2-7 1-9 7-13 1-3 2-10 3-4

1993 Sean Delaney Westmeath Mayo Kerry

3-9 1-9 0-13 1-10 4-8 2-6

1994 Wexford Waterford

2-8 2-6 3-17 1-14 lost

1995 Wexford

2-14 0-8 lost

1996 Pat Ryan Dublin Meath Wexford Mayo Monaghan

4-15 2-7 3-10 1-7 2-8 1-7 3-14 0-19 2-9 2-9 Draw

(aet) 2-11 1-9

1997 Dublin Weatmeath Meath

3-16 3-10 1-14 1-12 3-7 0-12 lost

1998 Dublin

1999 Dublin Meath

1-10 0-9 1-7 1-12 lost

2000 Wexford Weatmeath Meath

3-16 3-3 9-10 0-10 1-7 0-15

lost

2001 Sean Delaney Wexford Weatmeath Meath Dublin Tyrone Mayo

7-15 2-7 11-21 0-3 3-17 0-7 2-10 2-8 3-10 2-6 2-14 1-16

2002 Sean Delaney Meath Wexford Longford Dublin

4-10 3-11 3-17 0-6 3-14 2-5 0-8 0-14

lost

2003 Sean Delaney Meath Wexford Longford Dublin Kerry

(Qualifier)

2-10 2-10 6-22 0-4 4-11 1-8 1-7 0-16 3-8 2-8

lost

1985 Senior Championship

Laois got off to a good start in the Championship and beat Offaly in the first round to get to the semi final against Wexford. This match was played at The Heath on the 28 July. Wexford were the favourites but Laois put on a fine performance to win. Laois 2-7 to Wexford 1-4.

Laois were then into Leinster final against Longford to be played in Tullamore on 11 August. Laois fancied their chances here and played very well in a one-sided match to win their first ever leinster final in the senior grade.

Laois then travelled to Fenagh, Co Leitrim to play Leitrim. This was the first time for Laois to play Leitrim at this level and they didn’t know what to expect of Leitrim. After a close enough encounter Laois finally overcame Leitrim to win. Laois 3-3 to Leitrim 1-4.

Laois were into an All Ireland final to play Kerry in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Cork. This was the first time ever that Laois played in a All Ireland final and were quite confident that they would do well. But on the day it was the power of the Kerry team and the sheer dominance that beat Laois. The inexperience of Laois really showed and Kerry were easy winners. Laois 0-5 to Kerry 2-9.

Trainer

Matt Hyland. A native of The Heath, Co Laois. Matt played football and has won championship medals at every grade for his club, The Heath. He played some football for his county also. He has trained and coached club teams. He has trained and coached the Heath ladies football team and the county team. He has a huge interest in football, his club and county.

Selector

Paddy Conroy. A native of the Heath, Co Laois. Paddy is also involved with the Heath ladies football team both as a trainer and a selector. He was involved at County Board level in the past. He has a huge interest in football, his club and the county.

Selector

Mary Wheatley. Mary is the Chairperson of the County Board. She is involved in any team that represents the county. She trains and coaches the underage in her local club, Crettyard. She is manager and selector of the club senior team.

Team

Anne Downey, Breda Cahill, Connie Conway, Elizabeth Condron, Mary Downey, Kathleen Murphy, Agnes Cahill, Terri O’Shea, Rita Keenan, Catherine Conroy, Ann Cushen, Sheila Conroy, Martina Kelly, Helen Kelly, Mary Conway, Sheila Cahill, Anne Nash, Pamela Ramsbottom, Ann Johnston, Margaret Brennan, Esther Kelly, Patti Brennan, Catherine Dowling.

1986 Senior Championship

Laois played Wexford in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, in the first round of the Leinster Championship. Laois were overwhelmed by this Wexford team and ran out easy winners. Laois 2-3 to Wexford 5-14.

Anne Downey, Breda Cahill, Sheila Cahill, Elizabeth Condron, Mary Downey, Kathleen Murphy, Agnes Cahill, Pamela Ramsbottom, Rita Keenan, Catherine Conroy, Ann Cushen, Sheila Conroy, Martina Kelly, Connie Conway, Mary Conroy, Anne Nash, Margaret Brennan, Esther Kelly, Mary Keegan, Ann Bergin, Claire Rowan, Mary Condron.

Junior Championship

On the same day Laois played Westmeath in the first round of the Junior Championship and were also beaten. Laois 2-0 to Westmeath 2-3.

1987 Championship

Laois played their first Leinster Championship match against Wexford in Enniscorthy on the 18 July. Wexford were stronger than Laois and got off to a great start. Laois however came back at them but were unable to draw level and Wexford won. Laois 1-4 to Wexford 3-4.

Junior Championship

Laois played their first match in the Junior Championship against Wexford in Enniscorthy. Laois were completely outclassed by a much better and more experienced team. Laois 0-1 to Wexford 3-8.

Under 16

Laois played Offaly in Timahoe, Co Laois on the 18 August in the Under 16 Championship.

1988 Championship

Laois played Wexford in the first game of the Leinster Championship in Graiguecullen, Co Carlow on the 9 July. This was the third year in a row to meet Wexford in the Championship and were they going to allow Wexford to win again. Laois had put in an extreme effort in training and were hoping to beat them this time. In a close battle for the first half Laois held their own and with grit and determination in the second half, got on top and won. Laois 4-4 to Wexford 1-2.

They were now into the Leinster final against Westmeath in Portlaoise and out ran Westmeath in every sector of the field and were easy winners. Laois 3-9 to Westmeath 0-3. Laois had won their second Leinster final.

The All Ireland semi final was against Mayo in Portlaoise on the 17 August and which Laois won easily. Laois 1-10 to Mayo 1-1.

Laois were again into an All Ireland and again to play Kerry. Laois were looking forward to this game, hoping to improve on their last performance in an All Ireland and against the same opposition but that was not to be, Kerry won again. Laois 3-3 to Kerry 2-12.

Trainer

Tommy Garvan. Tommy is a native of St Josephs. He has played club football with St Josephs and has played with Co Laois.

Team

Lulu Carroll, Liz Condron, Connie Conway, Mary Downey, Mary Condron, Brid Keogh, Anne Nash, Kathleen Murphy, Rita Dowling, Catherine Conroy, Pamela Ramsbottom, Sheila Conroy, Niamh McEvoy, Margaret Brennan, Amanda Donoghue, Esther Kelly, Mary Keegan, Anne Maher, Mary Ging, Anne Bergin, Mary Loughman, Kathleen Keegan, Claire Maher, Kathleen Miller, Antoinette Brennan, Martina Doyle.

Junior Championship

Laois played Wexford in the Junior Championship. Wexford won. Laois 3-0 to Wexford 2-4.

Under 16

Laois played Roscommon and won. Laois 2-7 to Roscommon 1-2.

1989 Championship

Laois played Wexford in the first game of the Leinster Championship in Wexford. Wexford got off to a great start and Laois were never really able for them. Wexford won 3-3 to Laois 0-6.

Junior Championship.

Laois played Wexford in the first round of the Junior Championship and were outplayed for all of the game. Wexford were easy winners. Wexford 3-4 to Laois

2-1.

Under 16

Laois were well beaten by Dublin in the first round of this championship.

Under 18

Laois won their only Leinster title this year at minor level. Laois easily beat Dublin. Laois 3-8 to Dublin 0-5.

1990 Championship

Laois played their first round against Dublin. This was an easy match for Laois and they ran out easy winners. Laois 3-9 to Dublin 1-6.

Laois were into a Leinster final against Westmeath. This was a close match in the first half but Laois showed they were a fitter and a more balanced side in the second half and won. Laois 3-7 to Westmeath 1-3.

Laois were now to meet Leitrim in the All Ireland semi final. Laois won this one. Laois 3-12 to Leitrim 1-5.

Laois were into their third All Ireland final and again it was against Kerry. Was it to be a case of third time lucky? It was not to be and in a very low scoring game, Kerry won. Kerry 1-9 to Laois 0-6.

1991 Championship

Laois played Wicklow in the first round of the Senior Championship in Wicklow. This match was a one sided affair and Laois won. Laois 3-9 to Wicklow 1-3.

Laois were to meet their old rival Wexford in the Leinster final. Wexford were no match for Laois on the day and Laois had a very easy win. Laois 3-10 to Wexford

0-4.

Laois were straight into another All Ireland. This time it was a new team from Munster, Waterford. Laois were very hopeful this time round as they had the experience and the heart break of Croke Park but Waterford played like a team that had been there in Croke Park before and Laois had no answers. Waterford were easily the best team and ran out easy winners. Waterford 5-8 to Laois 3-7.

Team

Lulu Carroll, Bernie Deegan, Connie Conway, Denise Langton, Caroline O’Loughlin, Mary casey, Pamela Ramsbottom, Anne Nash, Amanda Donoghue, Margaret Brennan, Martina Doyle, Teresa Sheehan, Linda Brennan, Niamh McEvoy, Sue Ramsbottom, Antoinette Brennan, Ruth Lawlor, Esther Kelly.

Junior Championship

Laois played the first round against Wexford. Laois won easily after scoring three goals in quick succession and left Wexford with no way back. Laos 5-4 to Wexford 1-4.

They played Dublin in the next round. This was a very close game with Dublin winning by 2 points. Laois 1-3 to Dublin 0-8.

Under 18

Laois played Longford in the semi final of the minor championship and were easy winners. Laois 7-8 to Longford 1-6.

Laois played Wexford in the Leinster final and were very easy winners. Laois 6-7 to Wexford 2-10.

Laois were then to play Waterford in the semi final of the Minor Championship. Laois really fancied themselves as they had won all their games so far by big scores but the Waterford team were a tough one on the day and played the better football. Laois were close enough in the first half but Waterford showed their better football to win. Waterford 3-13 to Laois 3-4.

1992 Championship

Laois started their Leinster Championship by playing Wicklow. Laois were in fine form and Wicklow were a very young and inexperienced side. Laois 1-17 to Wicklow 0-0.

Laois played Westmeath in the Leinster final. Laois were the better team throughoutr the game and won easily. Laois 2-7 to Westmeath 1-9.

The semi final was against Leitrim. Laois played with determination and were much better than Leitrim on the day. Laois 3-12 to Leitrim 1-5.

Laois were into another All Ireland to meet Waterford for the second year in a row. Laois were looking forward to this game as they felt 6they had not done themselves justice in the previous All Ireland but Waterford again out played and outclassed them on the day. Laois 3-4 to Waterford 2-10.

Trainer

Bernie Conroy. Bernie is a native of Portlaoise and played football with his local club Portlaoise in all grades. He was on the Portlaoise team that won the Club All Ireland in 1982/83.

1993 Championship

Laois played Westmeath in the Leinster final. This was a close match with Westmeath playing very well. Laois held out to win. Laois 3-9 to Westmeath 1-9.

Laois were again playing Leitrim in the All Ireland semi final in which they won easily. Laois 7-13 to Leitrim 1-3.

Laois were back in another All Ireland, this time against Kerry Surely this was a match to look forward to for Laois was hoping to do better than the previous clashes. This Laois team were a new lot of players and most of the players would have nev er played against Kerry in the championship but it was not to be. Kerry again outclassed Laois in every sector of the field and won. Laois 2-6 to Kerry 4-8.

When were Laois ever going to win an All Ireland?

1994 Championship

Laois played Wexford in the Leinster final. This was a hard fought contest with Laois just holding on to win. Laois 2-8 to Wexford 2-6.

Laois were into the All Ireland semi final against Waterford. This was the third time to meet Waterford in the championship, the last two were beaten at the All Ireland stage. Would Laois beat them this time? This match was played at a very fast pace and it was score for score throughout but Laois were beaten by the narrowest of margins. Laois 3-7 to Waterford 1-14.

1995 Championship

Laois played Wexford in the first round of the Senior Championship and were well beaten on the day. Wexford were playing extremely well and Laois had no answers.

Wexford 2-14 to Laois 0-8.

1996 Championship

Laois played Dublin in the first round of the Leinster Championship in Lucan, Co Dublin. Laois were on top throughout and dominated in vital positions and won easily. Laois 4-15 to Dublin 2-7.

The semi final was against Meath on 14 July in Stradbally, Co Laois. This was a very young Meath team and Laois showed their experience to easily beat them. Laois 3-10 to Meath 1-7.

Again into a Leinster final against old rivals Wexford and it was Wexford who had put them out of the championship last year. This match was played in Dr Cullen Park, Carlow on 28 July. This was a hard fought match with Laois showing more fitness and experience on the day. Laois 2-8 to Wexford 1-7.

Laois had to play Mayo in the All Ireland semi final in McHale Park, Castlebar. Mayo were a new young team on the scene and were showing plenty of promise. This was a close encounter and Mayo had Laois on the rack for most of the game. A titantic struggle saw Laois bring the game from the brink of defeat with a goal in the 59th minute to bring the game into extra time but Laois showed their experience in the second half of extra time to win. Laois 3-14 to Mayo 0-19.

Laois were back into another All Ireland and this time against a new opposition, Monaghan on the 29 September. Laois were very confident as they had more experience and were in Croke Park before. This was a very close match and it was score for score all through.

The match was just over when Laois trailing by one point got a free and which was scored to draw the game at 2-9 each. Laois were jubilant, this was the closest they had ever got and now they were getting another chance. Laois were looking forward to the replay with confidence. Would this be their year?

But their dream of an All Ireland is once again shattered as Monaghan were the superior team unit, using the short passing game and tremendous support play to devastating effect throughout the game and which Laois simply could not match. Monaghan were always in control to win. Laois 1-9 to Monaghan 2-11.

Laois contested the National League. They beat Clare. Laois 4-4 to Clare 2-6. This was a close match with Clare putting up a very strong challenge. Laois started very shaky but upped their performance in the second half to advance to the semi final of the league against Mayo.

Trainer

Pat Ryan. Pat is a native of Portlaoise and is a fitness fanatic. He was an avid boxer and boxed with his club and boxed internationally. He presently coaches and trains young boxers at his local boxing club and for international teams. He has coached local football teams.

Selector

Mary Ramsbottom. Mary is a native of Stradbally and living in Timahoe, is everything in Laois football. She is secretary of the County Board and is a selector on all the Laois teams. She trains the underage teams in her local club, Timahoe.

Selector

Antoinette Brennan. A native of Ballyadams, she played her club football with Crettyard. She has been involved on County Board for a number of years and has helped out with Laois underage teams. She is also involved in the administration of her local club team, Crettyard.

Team

Theresa Swayne, Liz Kehoe, Liz Loughman, Margaret Phelan, Alice Brennan, Anna Connolly, Claire Casey, Mary Casey, Lulu Carroll, Mary Kehoe, Linda Brennan, Martina Phelan, Connie Conway, Sue Ramsbottom, Margaret Brennan, Denise Langton, Serena King, Aisling Roycroft, Tracey Burke, Mary Kirwan, Nuala Casey, Margaret Wheatley, Aileen Aherne, Angela Casey, Bernie Deegan, Grainne Dunne, Cathyrn Foyle, Nicola Delaney, Sinead Kelly, Martina Cahill, Elizabeth Cahill.

1997 Senior Championship

Laois played the first round of the Leinster Championship against Dublin. This was a very close match and Laois had to show grit and determination to win this one. Dublin were playing extremely well and Laois were lucky to get a win from this. Laois 3-16 to Dublin 3-10.

The second match in the Leinster Championship was against Westmeath. Again this was a very close encounter and Laois had to play very well to win this. Laois 1-14 to Westmeath 1-12.

Laois were into the Leinster final against Meath. This was a close match with this young Meath side playing great football. Laois struggled throughout the game to draw level and Meath did just enough to win. Meath 3-7 to Laois 0-12.

Under 18

Laois received a walkover from Wicklow in the first round and played Louth in the semi final. This was a very easy win for the side. Laois 6-7 to Louth 4-1.

Laois minors were into the Leinster final against Longford. This match was played in dreadful conditions at Kilbeggan. Longford were the favourites for this game as they had beaten a very strong Wexford side in the semi final and Laois had no real test up to the Leinster final. Longford settled well and were first to score. This was a tough game with both sets of defenders playing very well. It was nip and tuck for the rest of the game and Laois went on to win by the narrowest of margins. Laois 2-5 to Longford 1-7.

Laois were now to meet Waterford in the semi final. This was played in Tipperary. This game was an absolute thriller and it was score for score. Laois missed a penalty and this was the difference in the end. Laois 2-6 to Waterford 3-6.

1998 Senior Championship

Laois were dealt a crushing defeat at the hands of Dublin in the first round of the senior championship.

Laois were then in the Intermediate Championship. They played Westmeath in their first game. Laois 2-10 to Westmeath 0-6.

Laois reached the Intermediate semi final against London. This was played in Parnell Park, Kingsbury, London 5 September. Laois 1-13 to London 1-7.

Trainer: Tommy Garvan

Selector: Sammy Kelly

Selector: Michael Carroll

Selector: Richie Lyons

Team:

Teresa Swayne, Laura Buggy, Liz Loughman, Lorraine Dunne, Margaret Phelan, Nicola Delaney, Laura Dwyer, Mary Casey, Mary Kirwan, Mary Kehoe, Claire Casey, Angela Casey, Elizabeth Cahill, Margaret Wheatley, Serena King, Lulu Carroll, Liz Keohoe, Alice Brennan, Margaret Brennan, Denise Langton, Kathleen O’Reilly, Louise Doyle, Tracey Lawlor.

Under 18

Laois played Wexford in the Laois played Wexford in the first round and won very easily. Laois 6-20 to Wexford 0-4.

Laois next played Louth and after a close first half Laois pulled away in the second half to win quite easily. Laois 3-11 to Louth 1-7.

Laois played Longford in the Leinster final. This was a great match and was very close until Laois scored three goals in quick succession and Longford never recovered from this. Laois won. Laois 6-5 to Longford 1-13.

Laois were then pitted against Monaghan in the All Ireland semi final in Mullingar on 22 August. This was an epic game of football and was score for score throughout. Monaghan made more of their chances in the second half and won. Laois 2-10 to Monaghan 3-14.

1999 Senior Championship

Laois had a bye in the first round of the senior championship and played Dublin in the semi final of the senior championship in Timahoe. Laois were up for this game as Dublin had been beaten at this stage in last year’s championship. Laois played very well and Dublin were always playing ‘catch up’. Laois 1-10 to Dublin 0-9.

The Leinster final was against Meath. This match was played in Dr Cullen Park, Carlow. Meath were the stronger team on the day and won. Laois 1-7 to Meath 1-12.

Team

Teresa Sheehan, Lorraine Dunne, Ann Collins, Claire Casey, Mary Casey, Angela Casey, Linda Brennan, Kathleen O’Reilly, Lulu Carroll, Tracey Lawlor, Elizabeth Cahill, Sue Ramsbottom, Nicola Delaney, Laura Buggy, Linda Jean Finn, Marie Dooley.

Junior Championship

Laois played Wexford in the first round of the championship. This was a very close game. Laois won 5-11 to Wexford 4-11.

Laois then played Carlow in the next round. This was a great game of football and it was score for score all through. It was level at full time but extra time had to be played, and Carlow held out to win this enthralling match. Laois 0-24 to Carlow

5-16.

2000 Senior Championship

Laois played the first round of the championship in Timahoe, Co Laois against Wexford. Laois were by far the better team throughout and Wexford had no answer for Laois. Laois 3-16 to Wexford 3-3.

Laois then played Westmeath in Downes, Co Westmeath. Laois overwhelmed Westmeath and were very easy winners. Laois 9-19 to Westmeath 0-10.

Laois travelled to Dunsany, Co Meath to play Meath in the Leinster final. Meath started the game very well and Laois were never able to catch up with them. Meath winning 0-15 to Laois 1-7.

Junior Championship

Laois played Offaly in the first round of the championship. Laois won this easily with Offaly never getting into the game. Laois 4-17 to Offaly 1-7.

Laois then went on to play Wexford in the next round and easily disposed of them. Laois 2-15 to Wexford 0-5.

Laois next played Wicklow and easily beat them. Laois 5-10 to Wicklow 3-4. Laois were into a Leinster final against Kildare, would they do it this time in this grade? This was a great game of football and each team showing grit and determination to win but it was Kildare who finished the strongest. Kildare 2-13 to Laois 2-6.

Under 18

Laois played Carlow in the first round of this championship and beat them. Laois 5-19 to Carlow 202.

Laois played Dublin in the next round and were beaten. Laois 3-3 to Dublin 2-9.

2001 was a historic and a very successful year for Laois Ladies Football

Laois had been regulated from Division 1 of the League in 2000 and contested their first match in Division 2 of the League against Louth in St Malachey’s Park outside Dundalk.

Laois easily dismissed the challenge from Louth to a score of 4-10 to Louth 1-6. Laois played good football and the mood was good.

Laois played Galway in Mountmellick. This was a very close encounter with th final score Laois 3-5 to Galway 2-5.

Laois next travelled to Goatenbridge, Tipperary on 11 April to play Cork. Laois had last beaten Cork in the Intermediate All Ireland final 2000 and which Laois won. Laois played very well to beat a young Cork side and the final score was Laois 6-9 to Cork 4-4.

On 18 April Laois played Leitrim in Mountmellick, Co Laois. This fixture was to be played in Leitrim but their pitches were waterlogged and so Leitrim agreed to travel to Laois for the game. This match was very close in the first half with the score at half time Laois 1-6 to Leitrim 1-3. Laois were very impressive in the second half and the final score was Laois 2-22 to Leitrim 1-6.

Laois continued their winning ways in the League by beating Wexford in Crettyard, Co Laois on 2 May. This was a totally one-sided affair and Laois ran out easy winners, Laois 2-15 to Wexford 0-3. This was a fine performance and it augured well for the championship meeting with Wexford on June 24th.

Laois now were into the league semi final on 26 May in Corofin. Laois had topped their group and were to meet Galway who were third in the group. Galway were a very young team and were narrowly beaten in the Junior final against Down in 2000 in croke Park.

Laois were quietly confident going into this game as they had won all their games but were taking nothing for granted. How right this attitude proved to be for this was an epic battle from start to finish with Laois very lucky to equalise for extra time. The second half of the extra timer saw the fighting spirit of Laois and their experience was too much for Galway to finish Laois 3-24 to Galway 3-16.

After a great league campaign, Laois were ready for the championship. Laois were to meet Wexford on the 24th June in Wexford. Wexford and Laois had many battles over the year but in this match Laois completely overwhelmed Wexford to record a runaway victory. The score was Laois 7-15 to Wexford 2-7.

On 8 July Laois played Westmeath in Stradbally, Co Laois and totally outclassed and outplayed a very young and inexperienced side. Laois 11-21 to Weatmeath 0-3. The semi final was against Meath. This was played in Stradbally on 18 July. Last year Meath put Laois out of the championship in the semi final. From the start of this game. Laois took control from the throw in and totally overwhelmed Meath. This was a tremendous Laois performance with the final score Laois 3-17 to Meath 0-7.

The Leinster final was played in Dr Cullen Park, Carlow on 25 July against Dublin. This was a closely fought encounter but the stamina and determination of Laois saw them through by 2 points. It was a nerve wracking experience for Laois sideline and supporters alike as they saw a great half time lead whittled away and in the last few minutes held on to win by two points.

Laois now full of confidence from their Leinster campaign meet Tyrone in the semi final. This was played in Pearse Park, Longford on 19 September. Tyrone were very much fancied to win this game but Laois turned in a fantastic performance to put them into an All Ireland final.

Laois were quietly confident and started very strong and were leading by 11 points at half time. Tyrone came back at them in the second half but Laois held on to win and were on their way to another All Ireland. Laois 3-10 to Tyrone 2-6.

Laois were in another All Ireland, their eighth appearance and how Laois were starved for their first success in All Ireland Championship. They were playing Mayo who were going for three in a row. Laois were in the final as the under dogs, but Laois knew if they played with grit and determination and to their full potential, they would be there or there about’s, when the final whistle went.

After all they had won the All Ireland Intermediate final in 2000 by beating Cork 3-14 to Cork 1-13. And they had an unbeaten run in the League of 2001 and beating Kerry in the final 2-19 to 3-12, ending a ‘hoodoo’ that hung over the county during the 90s. With promotion to Division 1 football achieved Laois embarked on their Leinster campaign and have made it through to play Mayo in the All Ireland decider in Croke Park. It would take a huge effort from the panel to be successful in this tie but Laois were focused.

On 26 September in Croke Park, Laois at last created history and won their first ever All Ireland. This was indeed one of the most dramatic and enthralling clashes at Corke Park. Such a gripping finale to the championship concluded with Laois crowned All Ireland champions for the first time, when a free sailed over the crossbar and was greeted by the match-concluding hooter. For Laois 16 years since they first played centre stage in ladies football and 7 previous defeats in the spotlight, the joy was uncontainable. They had beaten a mighty Mayo side who themselves were going for three in a row.

This was a very close encounter and it was score for score all the way through. Towards the middle of the second half Mayo looked as if they would pull away but Laois showed their determination and grit and came back at Mayo to clinch the narrowest of victories. Laois 2-14 to Mayo 1-16.

Trainer

Sean Delaney. Sean, better known as ‘Goggie’ had been with the Laois ladies since the beginning of 2001. He trained the minor, junior and senior teams this year. Sean has plenty of experience in training and coaching in previous years. He trained the Laois senior team of ’93 and ’94 and was involved with club teams also. He is a native of Stradbally and is presently living in Portlaoise. Sean was a noted footballer for Steadbally and Co Laois. He played hurling and was a noted goalkeeper with Ratheniska and Portlaois and won 6 senior county hurling championships with Portlaoise. He was also a noted soccer player with Portlaoise.

Selector

Sammy Kelly. Sammy is from Crettyard and has been a selector with Laois for many years. He also trains Crettyard, his local ladies football club. He plays football and soccer for his local clubs at Crettyard.

Selector

Michael Carroll. Michael has been involved with Laois both as a selector and a trainer for many years. A native of Timahoe, he now lives in Durrow where he runs a pub, The Nore Nets, with his wife Angela and family.

Team Manager

Mary Ramsbottom. Mary has been involved with Laois at all grades for many years. She has trained the under age teams and has been a selector for senior, junior and minor teams.

A native of Stradbally, she now lives in Timahoe with her husband Willie. Mary is currently County Board Secretary. She is also Chairperson of Stradbally Community Games and PRO for Laois Community Games. Mary is involved in several organisations in the parish and she is the Parish Secretary in Stradbally.

Team Physio

Aidan McFall. Aidan lives in Portlaoise and is with the team since the beginning of this year.

Laois County Board Officers

President: Peggy Drennan Timahoe

Chairperson: Mary Wheatley Crettyard

Vice-Chairperson: Marie Hickey Ballylinan

Secretary: Mary Ramsbottom Timahoe

Assistant Secretary: Catriona Kelly Timahoe

Treasurer: Margaret Brennan Crettyard

Assistant Treasurer: Catherine Walsh Ballylinan

PRO: Joan Colton Timahoe

Assistant PRO: Michael O’Loughlin Sarsfields

Development Officer: Joe Bermingham Sarsfields

Youth Officers: Mary Kirwan Shanahoe

Angela Casey Timahoe

Irish Officer: Margaret Phelan-Mulhall Crettyard

Team

Teresa Swayne, Patricia Fogarty, Anna Connolly, Margaret Phelan, Grainne Dunne, Claire Casey, Angela Casey (capt), Mary Casey, Kathleen O’Reilly, Tracey Lawlor, Linda Brennan, Alison Hooban, Sue Ramsbottom, Mary Kirwan, Lulu Carroll, Mary Kehoe, Ciara O’Loughlin, Aileen O’Loughlin, Bernie Deegan, Ann Collins, Debbie Curley, Karen Curley, Gemma O’Connor, Elizabeth Cahill, Maggie Murphy, Alison O’Reilly, Linda Gene Finn, Aileen Aherne, Martha Kirwan, Martina Dunne, Emma McEvoy, Marguerite McEvoy, Grace Weston.

While Laois had an excellent year in the Senior Championship, other Laois teams were doing very well also.

Junior Championship

The Laois junior team played Wexford in the first round of the championship and had a great win. Carlow was the next opposition and had a convincing win over them also. Laois 4-17 to Carlow 2-10.

Laois then travelled to Dunsany to take on Meath in the Leinster semi final. After playing well in the previous two matches, Laois were quietly confident but also knew that Meath would not be easily beaten. However on the day, Laois never settled into the game and were beaten. Meath 2-12 to Laois 1-9.

Team

Noeleen Byrne, Linda Jean Finn, Sinead Murphy, Helena Moore, Karen Curley, Grace Weston, Emma McEvoy, Debbie Curley, Alison O’Reilly, Denise Quigley, Aileen O’Loughlin, Claire O’Connell, Martina Dunne, Aileen Aherne, Gemma O’Connor, Pamela Ramsbottom, Martha Kirwan, Tracey Fallon, Margaret Brennan, Nicola Nerney

Under 16

Laois Under 16 team had their first outing against Carlow in Askea, Carlow. This was a one-sided affair in which Laois completely out-played Carlow. Laois 6-18 to Carlow 1-5.

Laois then played Dublin on 13 May in Westmanstown. It was score for score in the first half and the teams were level at half time. Laois upped their performance in the second half and were comfortable winners to set up a final date with Meath. Laois were very confident going into this match as they had impressive wins so far in the championship. They started very well in the game but slowly Meath came into the game and took over. Meath dominated in every section of the field and ran out easy winners over Laois. Meath 4-16 to Laois 3-9.

Team

Catrona Fogarty, Anna Walsh, Caroline Bermingham, Tara Nerney, Marguerite McEvoy, Ann Lawlor, Sinead Lanham, Emma McEvoy, Rachel Farrell, Deirdre Halley, Aileen O’Loughlin, Margaret Murphy, Louise Delaney, Martha Kirwan, Ciriline Duff, Kathyrn Stapleton, Lisa Dunne, Mags McEvoy, Fiona Whelan, Mary Hyland.

2002 Senior Championship

After such a successful year 2001, Laois were full of confidence with their new crown and went into the Leinster Championship with high hopes.

Laois plated the first round of the championship in Timahoe, Co Laois against Meath. Laois wee by far the better team throughout and Wexford had now answer for Laois. Laois 3-16 to Wexford 3-3.

Laois played Westmeath in Downes, Co Westmeath. Laois overwhelmed Westmeath and were very easy winners. Laois 9-19 to Westmeath 0-10. Laois travelled to Dunsany Co Meath to played Meath in the Leinster final. Meath started the game very well and Laois were never able to catch up with them. Meath winning 0-15 to Laois 1-7.

Team

Bernie Deegan, Patricia Fogarty, Anna Connolly, Margaret Phelan, Angela Casey, Claire Casey, Grainne Dunne, Kathleen O’Reilly, Aileen O’Loughlin, Tracey Lawlor, Linda Brennan, Mary Kriwan, Sue Ramsbottom, Lulu Carroll, Mary Keohoe, Gemma O’Connor, Mags Murphy, Marguerite Murphy.

Trainer: Sean Delaney

Junior Championship

Laois played Offaly in the first round of the championship. Laois won this easily with Offaly never getting into the game. Laois 4-17 to Offaly 1-7.

Laois then went on to play Wexford in the next round and easily disposed of them, Laois 2-15 to Wexford 0-5.

Laois next played Wicklow and easily beat them. Laois 5-10 to Wicklow 3-4.

Laois were into a Leinster final against Kildare, would they do it this time in this grade? This was a great game of football and each team showing grit and determination to win but it was Kildare who finished the strongest. Kildare 2-13 to Laois 2-6.

Under 18

Laois played Carlow in the first round of this championship and beat them. Laois 5-19 to Carlow 2-2.

Laois played Dublin in the next round and were beaten. Laois 3-3 to Dublin 2-9.

2003 Senior Championship

Laois played their first game in their group against Meath. This was a close match and was score for score throughout. It finished level at 2-10 each.

Laois next played Wexford and were very easy winners. Laois 6-11 to Wexford 0-4. Laois next played Longford. Again this was an easy match for Laois. Laois 4-11 to Longford 1-8.

Laois topped the group they were in and went on to play Dublin in the Leinster final. Dublin were in control of this game from the start. Laois had no answer to any of the Dublin moves. Dublin were far fitter and certainly a lot more determined. Dublin won fairly easily. Laois 1-7 to Dublin 0-16.

This was the first year of the back door system and Laois were to play Kerry. This match was played in Portlaoise. The Kerry team were a very young side and played with grit and determination and which Laois could do nothing about. Laois 2-8 to Kerry 3-8.

Team

Bernie Deegan, Laura Buggy, Anna Connolly, Patricia Fogarty, Grace Weston, Mary casey, Grainne Dunne, Angela Casey, Kathleen O’Reilly, Tracey Lawlor, Sue Ramsbottom, Aileen O’Loughlin, Mary Kehoe, Mary Kirwan, Emma mcEvoy, Claire Casey, Mags Phelan, Sarah Cuddy, Geema O’Connor, Martha Kirwan.

Under 18

Laois played Wexford in the first round and won. Laois 2-8 to Wexford 1-4. They played Louth in the next round and won. Laois 4-8 to Louth 1-10.

Laois were into the Leinster final against Meath. This was a very close match with Laois hanging on to win by two points. Laois 3-12 to Meath 2-13.

Laois played Cork in the All Ireland semi final.

Laois Ladies Football Board 2004

President: Peggy Drennan

Chairperson: Marie Hickey

Treasurer: Margaret Brennan

PRO: Mary Walsh

Secretary: Michael O’Loughlin

Laois Ladies Football Secretary’s Report 2004

AGM Aras Laighean, Thursday 10 February 2005

Introduction: 2004 will probably be rated as an average year for Laois.

It began with the retirement of long serving Chairperson, Mary Wheatley and the election of a number of new faces to the top table.

On the positive side, the minors recorded back to back Leinster titles and reach the All Ireland final. The seniors lost to eventual All Ireland champions, Galway in the quarter final. The Under 14s won the All Ireland Blitz whilst the Under 16s went down to Dublin in the Leinster final.

The year was also sadly marked by the passing of former Laois All Ireland Manager, Sean (Goggy) Delaney and John Paul Kirwan.

Officers Laois Ladies Football Board 2004

President: Peggy Drennan

Chairperson: Marie Hickey Ballylinan

Vice-Chairperson: Mary Wheatley Doonane, Crettyard, Carlow

Secretary: Michael O’Loughlin Manor Road, Mountmellick

Assistant Secretary: Patricia Brothwood Mount Rath Road, Portlaois

Treasurer: Margaret Brennan Athy, Co Kildare

PRO: Mary Walsh Stradbally

Registrar: Connie Conway Ballickmoyler, Carlow

Irish Officer: Anna Connolly

Development Officer: Elizabeth Cahill Stradbally

Fixtures Committee: Eugene Doolan

Mary Wheatley

John Munnelly

Patricia Brothwood

Co. Selection Committees:

Senior: Gerry McGill, Billy Sheahan

Junior: Michael McLoughlin, Lulu Carroll

Minor: David Hyland, Michael O’Loughlin

U 16: Seamus Brady, Tricia Brothwood, Sean Dunne

U 14: Tricia Brothwood, Derek Egan

Club Secretaries

Ballylinan: Louise Doyle, Aughanure, Ballylinan, Athy, Co Kildare

Ballyroan: Carmel Dempsey, Cashel, Ballyroan

Barrowhouse: Martina Phelan, Drumbrin, Barrowhouse, Athy

Crettyard: Theresa Swayne, Colter, Bestfield, Carlow.

Killeshin: Siobhan McDonald, Old Derrig, Killeshin, Carlow.

Ratheniska: Glenlahan, Stradbally Road, Portlaoise.

Railyard: Ann Dowd, Sidegate, Moneenroe, Castlecomer, Kilkenny

R & C Gaels: Eugene Doolan, Castlecuff, Clonaslee, Laois.

Mountmellick: Fiona O’Loughlin-Daly, Kilcarvan, Geashill

Ofaly/St.Conleth: Derek Egan, Kilenard, Portarlington, Laois

Shanahoe: Mary Kirwan, Kilbricken, Mountrath, Laois

Timahoe: Martin Cahill, Kylevalley, Stradbally, Laois.

The Heath: Catherine Whelan, Corrigeen,Stradbally, Laois.

Highlights of the Year

Leinster minor title, two in a row. After a shaky start against Wexford and a recovery to win in extra time against Offaly, the team showed huge heart in the Leinster final win against Kildare and again in coming from behind to beat Donegal. The All Ireland final in Birr against Cork had few positives from a Laois perspective and will live in our memories for the wrong reasons.

Reaching quarter final of All Ireland Senior Championship. We were late getting off the ground in our preparations as new manager Gerry McGill did not take up the reins until early February, just days before the league game against Dublin. Defeat by Dublin followed by a good win against Tyrone, raised hopes for the league, but defeat by Meath and a draw with Roscommon doomed us to Division 2.

Despite this setback the team recovered well to beat Louth, Longford and Meath (twice) and losing to Dublin again on the way to qualify for the Leinster final. For the third year in a row we went down to the Dubs.

Presentation of medals to National League winners and Leinster Minor Champions 2003 in conjunction with successful Race Night in Killeshin Hotel. It is difficult to come up with an ideal formula for such events and in general it went well, but again the turn out of players was disappointing.

Reaching Leinster Under 16 final. This was a good achievement to be second best in Leinster as Dublin’s under age reputation is improving rapidly in recent years. Great work by players and mentors.

Under 14 B All Ireland Blitz victory. A good indication of talent within the county and was can be achieved when it is well organised.

Track suits for under age players. The Under 14s, Under 16s and Minor all received county track-suits.

Continued support from our main sponsors, O’Neill Glass and Pat Moore.

Featuring in three Leinster finals.

Low Points

Bereavements. The death of the legendry Goggy on 12 April came as a huge shock to GAA people everywhere, but particularly to the footballers who trained under him in Laois and Kildare. His passing is a big loss to ladies football and to GAA in general, but is obviously felt most deeply by his family and Partner, Grace. The Board made a special presentation to her at our awards night on 5 June.

In November the death of John Paul Kirwan, at such a young age, shook the Laois ladies football community to the core. His sudden and totally unexpected death is a massive blow to the people of Shanahoe, but its impact on his family, which has played such a prominent role in Laois ladies football for many years, can only be imaged by the rest of us. To both families and to all those who suffered bereavements during the year, we expend our sincerest sympathies on their huge losses. Ar dheis De go Raibh a anam dhills.

Failure to win Leinster Senior title and relegation to Division 2.

Failure to complete Under 16 Championship. A series of false starts and other hiccups meant that time ran out on the Under 16 Championship and it is now eventually reaching a conclusion.

Withdrawal of the Heath from competitions. One of the county’s most famous clubs re-entered the championship in 2004 but following a very controversial game against Portlaoise in the Under 12 B, the officials decided to take no further part in competitions.

Delay in finishing Senior Championship. The controversy over the replay of the senior semi final between Timahoe and Crettyard raged over the summer months. This had serious implications for their opponents, Shanahoe, who waited in the wings and also for our participation in the Leinster Club championship, as we failed to provide a team and Laois were not represented.

Laois Roll of Honour 2004

Winners Runners Up

Senior: Crettyard Shanahoe

Intermediate: Railyard Ballylinan

Junior: Ballyroan Timahoe

Minor: Shanahoe Timahoe

Under 16 final : Shanahoe v Portlaoise

Under 16 B: Crettyard Ratheniska

Under 16 Shield: Ballyroan St Conleths

Under 14 A Portlaoise St Conleths

Under 14 B Crettyard R & C Gaels

Under 12A Crettyard Portlaoise

Under 12 A League: Portlaoise Crettyard

Under 12 B Park/Ratheniska Shanahoe

Inter-County

Leinster Minor winners:

Under 14 Blitz All Ireland winners

Under 12 Blitz Leinster winners (2nd) and Runners Up (1st)

Laois teams in Leinster All Ireland competitions:

Under 12 Leinster Blitz

Under 14 Leinster Championship

Leinster and All Ireland Blitz

Winners of B All Ireland Blitz

Under 16 Leinster Championship, lost final

Leinster Championship winners, lost All Ireland final to Cork

Junior Leinster Championship, played four games, won one.

Senior Suzuki National League, relegated to Division 2.

Leinster Championship, lost final to Dublin, defeated by Galway in quarter final by two points.

Suzuki National League Division 1, February 6 in Na Fianna. Dublin 3-12 Laois 1-7.

February 15, Dundany, Meath 2-11 Laois 1-9.

March 7, in Dromad, Laois 4-11 Tyrone 2-12.

March 13, in Kilttom, Laois 1-7 Roscommon 1-7.

Leinster Senior Championship May 8 in Hunterstown, Round 1, Laois 6-9 Louth 0-6.

May 23, in Mountmellick, Round 2, Laois 5-25 Longford 1-2.

June 20, in Swords, Round 3, Dublin 1-10 Laois 0-4.

July 4, in Dunsany, Round 5, Laois 3-9 Meath 1-11

July 11, in Stradbally, Leinster semi final, Laois 4-12 Meath 4-8

July 25, in Carlow, Leinster final, Dublin 2-10 Laois 0-7

August 29, in Longford, All Ireland quarter final, Galway 1-10 Laois 1-8.

Challenge games were played against Cork, Kerry, Tipperary, Kildare and Roscommon.

Junior Championship

May 9, in Baltinglass, Wicklow 4-7 Laois 3-3

June 13, in Leighlinbridge, Carlow 3-9 Laois 2-7

June 30, in Crettyard, Laois 3-16 Kilkenny 3-5

July 3, in Portmarnock, Dublin 3-14 Laois 0-2

Minor Championship

April 16, in Crettyard, Round 1, Laois 5-11 Wexford 2-9

April 24, in Gracefield, Leinster semi final, Laois 4-20 Offaly 1-19, aet.

May 7, in Tullow, Leinster final, Laois 5-10 Kildare 1-13

July 4, in Termonbarry, All Ireland semi final, Laois 5-8 Donegal 1-16.

July 17, in Birr, All Ireland final, Cork 4-17 Laois 0-8

Other events/activities:

A number of Laois clubs, Crettyard, Park/Rathenisak, Sarsfields, Shanahoe, Timahoe, took part in the All Ireland Sevens finals in Portmarnock in Octob er 2, and fared very well.

Laois Teams/Panels 2004

Senior: Bernie Deegan (Timahoe), Laura Buggy (Crettyard), Tricia Fogarty (Ratheniska), Laura Hyland (Park/Rath), Angela Casey (Timahoe), Emma McEvoy (Sarsfields), Grace Weston (Sarsfields), Anna Connolly (timahoe), Kay O’Reilly (Crettyard), Tracey Lawlor (St Conleths), Clara O’Loughlin (Sarsfields), Aileen O’Loughlin (Sarsfeidls), Martha Kirwan (Shanahoe), Noirin Kirwan (Shanahoe), Mary Reilly (Crettyard), Karen Purcell (Crettyard), Lulu Carroll (Timahoe), Mary Kirwan (Shanahoe), Sue Ramsbottom (Timahoe), Mags McEvoy (Sarsfields), Eimear Fitzpatrick (Shanahoe), Martina Dunne (Timahoe), Clare Conlon (Sarsfields), Grainne Dunne (Timahoe), Aisling Behan (Crettyard), Jessie Curley (Timahoe), Maggie Murphy (Timahoe), Patrice Deffew (Sarsfields), Anna Walsh (Park/Ratheniska), Claire Casey (Timahoe), Louise Doyle (Ballylinan), Claire O’Loughlin (Sarsfields).

Trainer/Manager: Gerry McGill

Selector: Billy Sheehan

Physio: Niamh O’Loughlin

Minor: Cassie Dunne (St Conleths), Mary Hyland (Sarsfields), Mags McEvoy (Sarsfields), Marion O’Grady (Shanahoe), Fiona O’Grady (Shanahoe), Aoife Donohue (Shanahoe), Fiona Whelan (Sarsfields), Patrice Deffew (Sarsfields), Catriona Fogarty (Pasrk/Rath), Noirin Kirwan (Shanahoe), Martha Kirwan (Shanahoe), Ashling Behan (Crettyard), Clare Conlon (Sarsfields), Lisa Dunne (Shanahoe), Mary Reilly (Crettyard), Orla Dwyer (Shanahoe), Laura Durcan (Park/Rath), Jessie Curley (Timahoe), Louise Delaney (Timahoe), Claire O’Loughlin (Sarsfields), Maggie Murphy (Timahoe), Orla Dowling (Park/Rath), Aoife Cleary (Sarsfields), Catriona Keane (Park/Rath), Fiona Brennan (Ballylinan), Aisling O’Gorman (Portlaoise), Ruth Conroy (R & C Gaels)

Mentors: David Hyland

Manager: Michael O’Loughlin

Junior: Liz Cahill, Martina Cahill, Marion O’Grady, Lulu Carroll, Patric Deffew, Louise Delaney, Aoife Donoghue, Cassie Dunne, Shona Phelan, Fiona O’Grady, Ann M Hourigan, Emer O’Loughlin, Richelle O’Neill, Noirin Kirwan, Maggie Murphy, Alison O’Reilly, Karen Purcell, Anna Walsh, Catriona Fogarty, Fiona Brennan, Laura Durcan, Claire O’Loughlin, Ashli ng Behan, Jessie Curley, Niamh O’Loughlin, Lisa O’Reilly.

Aspirations and Hopes for 2005

• Provide as many games as possible for Laois players

• Aim to capture Leinster and All Ireland titles

• Regular contact with Laois Camogie Board

• Improve relationship with Laois GAA Board

• Regular monthly board and executive meetings

• Completion of county competitions within a calendar year

• Running coaching courses for players and club coaches

• Running referees courses

• Drawing up a list of county bye-laws

• Presentation of medals to 2004 minors

Conclusion

On a personal level, I would like to compliment my fellow officers for their work for Laois ladies football during the year. The role of Board officers is often a thankless job that brings with it very few plaudits and lots of brickbats. We did not always get the job done to everybody’s satisfaction and we would accept that things can always improve, no matter how well the task is performed. I firmly believe that if everyone involved does a little, the burden on individual shoulders is not as heavy.

One of the big disappointments was the poor turnout at County Executive meetings during the year. Regular and well attended meetings are essential for the smooth and efficient running of county board activities and in this regard we were seriously below par. I would ask people not to take on jobs if they do not intend to fulfil the role and ask delegates not to nominate people unless they fully understand the tasks involved.

I want to express my appreciation and the Boards, to the officers and staff of Aras Laighean who have been extremely helpful and co-operative with us throughout 2004. Hopefully 2005 will see further progress in Laois ladies football at all levels.

The Board Officers greatly appreciate the contribution of the Fixtures Committee for their huge workload and unenviable task of attempting to juggle with the conflicting demands of clubs.

The trainers and coaches of all county teams who put in a massive amount of time and energy in trying to provide the best preparation possible for our six county panels. The clubs that provided training facilities and/or venues for matches for our county teams eg, Annanough, Ballyroan, Crettyard, Emo, Mountmellick, Park/Ratheniska, Portlaoise, Stradbally, Timahoe, The Heath. Our sponsors, O’Neills Glass and Pat Moore Builders, without whose continued support life would be very difficult at a financial level.

The officers and players of the clubs of the county, without whose continued co-operation the work of the Board would be impossible.

Finally, I would like to wish all those involved in ladies football best wishes for 2005. Hopefully we can learn from our past mistakes and join together to collectively do our best for Laois Ladies Football in 2005.

Michael O’Loughlin

Hon. Secretary

February 2005

Laois

Highlights of the year in Laois were the minors reaching the Leinster final where they wee narrowly defeated by Dublin after a cracker of a match at Clane last May. In October Park Ratheniska won the All Ireland Intermediate seven a side at Club Marnog. This was a big win and a great honour for a small club. Senior Championship honours in the county went to Timahoe who beat last years winners Crettyard by one point in the usual high standard of Laois Senior football.

The four senior teams in the county are all up there with the best with very little separating them in the run up to the final. Intermediate champions are Ballylinan. They beat Park Ratheniska in the final.

Junior honours in Laois went to Portlaoise. Shanahoe have two county minor championship in a row after their win over Portlaoise. The first match with Portlaoise was a draw but in the replay Shanahoe were decisive winners.

Portlaoise are Under 12A, Under 14 and Under 16 Champions. Ballyroan are holders of the Under 16B title and Rand C Gaels hold the Under 14 B title. Sarsfields were the winners of the Under 12B.

The year finished with a celebration when Mary Wheatley who served the county and Leinster for 26 years getting a well deserved Hall of Fame Award.

Hall of Fame – Mary Wheatley, Laois

In recognition of supreme dedication in leisure time to the administration and development of the Association of Cumann Peil na mBan, over a time scale of 29 years, Mary has given tremendous service to her club Crettyard as a player, underage coach, selector and a remarkable 29 years service as club chairperson.

Mary has given similar service to her county board in Laois where she served as chairperson from 1979 to 2003, and combined in her chair with other profile officer-ships.

Mary has also served her parish GAA club, Crettyard in administration and delegation over a number of years.

Mary served three terms of office as Uachtaran Comhairle Laighean and also served the office of treasurer and registrar. On the competition front, Mary served her province as an inter-provincial selector.

She has served the Association of Cumann Peil Gael na mBan as national President from 1988 to 1992. She also served as National Treasurer, Registrar and Injury Fund administrator for a number of years.

On the community social requirement of her parish, Crettyard, Mary Wheatley has dedicated herself to her community development and social requirement.

A found member of Crettyard Credit Union, an active member of the ICA and various parochial committees over many years.

Mary Wheatley has served her county on the political front for 20 years when she had the distinction of being the first lady county councillor elected to Comhairle Laoise. Mary was honoured in selection as the first lady chairperson of the County Council, perhaps one of a few ladies at the helm of local authorities at that time.

Mary Wheatley has provided high-powered dedication to the committees that she has aligned herself to over many years and is worthy recipient of the 2005 Hall of Fame Award.

Mary talks to Fr Liam.

Q: When id you get involved in ladies football?

A: The local secretary got a letter from Connie Conway who was secretary of the established County Board at the time. She sent the letter to all the men’s clubs requesting that a ladies club get started. On the night I was at a different meeting altogether and when I was coming back the mother of one of the ladies, who became our first secretary, Nancy Linehan, said for me to come in and see how they were doing. So when I went in there was about 30-40 girls in the hall and at the end of the meeting, I found myself chairpe4rson for a year they said. I think that was 1976. The men’s club at the time was Crettyard Gaelic Football Club. We kept the same name. We were on of the first integrated clubs in the county. We are one of the oldest clubs.

We had no money and no funds. There wasn’t much money around and we went into one of the players fields. We started training in Sullivan’s Field. When we thought we were proficient we used the same field as the men. They were given field from the late Paddy Delaney. We won our first county final and Leinster title in 1978. This was at senior level. There was only the one level at that time. Junior level didn’t appear until later. At that time we had only three players over 18. They were from 13 years old up. That’s when they won the county win. They won the Leinster final then beating Ballycummins of Offaly. And then won it the following year again.

Q: Was there any All Ireland Club Championship at that stage?

A: There was because Newtownshandrum had played Castleisland. Newtownshandrum won and we played them. That match was played in Portarlington as a curtain raiser to one of the All Irelands. Unfortunately for us, three of our girls had the flu that day. Two of them played for the first half and we were well in the game but they had to come off at half time as they were too sick.

Q: They were the first years, how did ye do subsequently in club championship?

A: We were in one All Ireland final but one of the girls, Mary Keogh, she was a great player, had to have her appendix removed three days before the final. We were beaten by Ballymacarbery by a couple of points.

Q: How is the club going now?

A: How many teams? We have from Under 12, actually nearly Under 10 right up to Senior.

Q: What ‘s your involvement with the club now?

A: I’m still chairperson of the club. I’ve been chairperson for about 29 years. I think there was about 2 years I wasn’t chairperson. Antoinette Brennan was chairperson for I think 2 years. Then they approached me to come back. To just chair the meetings and just be there if they wanted say something sorted. I’m sort of a chairperson/caretaker I think at the moment.

Q: You were also chairperson of Laois County Council. How did you get involved in politics?

A: I was in the politics before I was in ladies football. I went to work for Flemings Coal Mines first. I worked about 8 years for them. Then I moved down to Flemings. During that time I met a man from Cork, who is still living up here. Jim O’Connor and he got me involved in the politics cause I was giving out about the candidates they were putting up and he said you come to the meeting and voice your own opinion. So I went to a meeting, Paddy Lawlor the TD was there and was wondering why I was at the meeting. Another man, the late Willie Hayden, said to Paddy to come in as he was already late and that they were trying to attract women to the association. He told him to give his report and that wasn’t it great that I was there. So that was my first baptism. And Jim O’Connor become secretary and when he retired I was made secretary. That was back in the seventies. In 1985 we were looking for a candidate to go forward for the party for the County Council. I was going around asking people to put their name forward. We had two sitting councillors here and they were looking to win a third seat. I was asked to put my name forward. So I did. I was elected. I got the overall majority. I lost my seat last year and they lost the overall majority after 19 years.

Q: When were you chairperson then?

A: I was chairperson in 1997 and 1998. You are elected in June 1997 and run til July 1998.

Q: How were you able to combine all those jobs? Including President.

A: Actually Noel Murray was elected as President and he wasn’t able to take up the position. He took it a few years later. I was three years President from 1989 to 1992.

Q: Still how could you combine being President and involved with work and politics?

A: Well, I gave up the job in 1988 because my parents were elderly at the time and they weren’t well. My mother died in 1989 and my father died in 1992.

I always feel that the time I was President of the association that I was under a big strain at the time and I wasn’t well myself. I had an operation and things didn’t go well after the operation. So it was a hard time. The President of Leinster at the time was a great help as were other people in the association. Michael Fitzgerald helped out as well as Pat Quill and Peter Rice. And there were others too. When I was President with a few more, we put the rules into a book. We had some meetings to see what rules we’d allow in and what we wouldn’t.

Along with all this you had to hold down a regular job as well. Yes, but they were great. They were very understanding. Once I had things ready for the morning then that was all right. I could always work on late in the evenings to get the work done.

Q: What about looking after the family? How many are at home?

A: In the early days two of my sisters were here but they got married. May moth worked at home up to about two years before she died. She was a very active woman, even though she was 80 when she died. She always liked to do things herself. The family all helped out.

Q: You were so busy, you didn’t have any time to get married?

A: Before I was really involved in politics, I sued to go to dances. I’d do 3 or 4 a week, or maybe more. But never got married.

Q: But I guess you are married to politics, ladies football and to work?

A: To everything yes. That was just the way it went.

Q: What changes have you seen in the last five years for the better in ladies football? And where do you think ladies football is going?

A: There are more clubs. There is a huge increase in ladies football all over. There are some problems. One is funding and finding the personnel to do what we did. Its getting hard to get people.

Q: Is that because people are so busy themselves?

A: Yes they are so busy themselves and taken up. The culture has changed. People want to be paid for doing these things now. That’s the downside I see as well. What I was first involved most of our county boards were run by players. And they knew the situation and how tight money was. They never looked for anything. Not even when they were in county finals or Leinster finals. I remember when we were training for All Irelands and we would make tea and biscuits and thee wouldn’t be a word. There was great camaraderie. I think at one stage I was the only one on the County Board that wasn’t playing. The rest were made up of players.

Q: Ye had some frustrating years losing All Ireland finals?

A: We went to several finals. But it’s a learning process. We were all amateurs. The first one we went to was down in Cork against Kerry, the mistakes that we made before we went and when we got there, twas all a learning process. You have to prepare and those in charge have to be able to handle the pressure too. So that time we lacked experience. The second year we weren’t as bad. But it took us 8 times before we won an All Ireland final. We were unlucky in a few. Some of the games could have gone any way.

Q: I suppose Kerry were the conquerors in most of them?

A: They were but a couple of things happened and Kerry got the upper hand on us. We were beating them in a National League final down in Tipperary and an incident happened on the sideline and the players got distracted. All were watching the sideline and Kerry got a soft goal then. Then the ball was kicked out and ended up in the net again. In the end we were beaten by a point. That happened nearly in injury time. After that Kerry went on to win the championship.

Q: When did ye finally win, what was the feeling like in Laois?

A: The minor men winning and ourselves gave a great boost to the county. Everyone was more positive after.

Q: Its harder to win now, and in terms of success, ye have gone downhill a bit?

A: Yes you see we lost some of those players. They were therefore quite some time. Then you have to rebuild again. As well as that when someone wins something that they have been trying to for some time, then you have to motivate them again to do the same again.

Q: Ye had a very colourful manager, Sean Delaney, when ye won the All Ireland, he put a lot of work in?

A: He did. He knew his football. He had a very good trait. You could trash things out with him. You might nearly come to blows but before you’d get home, he’d ring and say I was thinking over what you said. He was always prepared to listen to the other side. He might not go with what you said, he may in fact come up with a better idea. Some managers just go with their own ideas and nobody elses. Some managers would see you as interfering if you were giving them ideas. But when I was chairperson, I was the boss. The buck stopped with me.

Q: What do you think of now when there are so many teams capable of winning All Irelands?

A: I think its great, it powerful for the game. It’ll only make everyone fully aware of what they have to do. I’d love if men’s county bards gave £5,000 over to ladies football. They could well afford it. I know we are in this integration, but I would see us keeping our own autonomy, even with the integration.

I think there is one thing needed, it can come from two ways. It can come from government but I think it also should come from county boards.

Q: Lots of people are saying its expensive now to be involved in ladies football due to insurance, especially with 4 or 5 kids in a family involved. It could cost them a couple of hundred euros a year to register them and for insurance?

A: That’s true but any sport they are in is costing huge money. I think that ladies football is not that expensive really if you look at other sports they could try.

Q: What do you think about the fact that is getting a bit aggressive and maybe rough and also the fact that referees seem to get a lost of hassle?

A: I don’t think so. Back in the early days it was hard to get referees to recognise the rules. I think it was equally as rough in the early days. I guess it can get rough if the referee doesn’t take control. There’s no-one quicker than the women to realise when the referee is in charge. But if they know that he/she isn’t, then they’ll take advantage. I would love to see more women referees.

Q: Any ambition of coming back again as President?

A: I would love to because I felt there was a lot of things happening at the time. I would like it to happen in the future. I’m not sure they would take me on board.

Q: What do you think of media coverage?

A: Its very poor. I remember attending a women’s conference in Dublin Castle and it was because it was a women’s conference that there was no media present. About an hour into it, we got word that President Mary Robinson was coming. The press and media weren’t long coming them but it was only because she was there. As soon as she was gone they were gone with the exception of one or two.

Q: It must be said that local papers have improved?

A: Local papers here were brilliant to us from day one.

Q: What would you like to see happening in ladies football over the next 5 years?

A: It will have to develop more than it is. We have moved great with first the Dublin office plus the offices now at provincial level. There is a need for county secretaries to have accommodation in the GAA offices in all the counties. Its too hard to live out of a suitcase and have no filing system. Its not fair to secretaries on the administration side. On the other side I think its moving very well with schools.

Q: So after all the years, you are still as enthusiastic as ever?

A: Oh yes I am. Its one of the best organisations in the country.

Q: How did you feel about getting the Hall of Fame award?

A: It was great in the sense that I was recognised for the work that was done in the early days. I stood on gates all over Ireland including Croke Park. The first time we went to Croke Park, I was treasurer and I went on the gate. So I went on the gate with two guys and counted the money after downstairs. I think we collected £9,000 that day. That was in 1987.

Q: Was that profit for the ladies football with expenses and everything?

A: Croke Park took security money out of it.

Q: How did the award impact at local level?

A: I got loads of phone calls. Everyone is delighted for me because they knew that I was there from the start. Looking back now I don’t know how I managed everything. There were several factors. One, my family was great. Two, the clubs and the county, the players themselves would all do work behind the scenes. That’s how the association was built really.

Q: You’re so popular now, I suppose you’ll be things of running for the Dail?

A: I tried that and I didn’t get the nomination. I tried it three times and when I failed on the third one, well I said, that’s that.

Q: But maybe after the award now?

A: I doubt it, there are two young TDs here for FF at the moment.

“Well Mary, it was fascinating talking to you, keep up the great work”.

2001

Laois back into the All Ireland series

Laois 2-10 Dublin 2-7

Laois were recently crowned Leinster Champions, after a four year gap as Dublin found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreline for the second year running. The teams were evenly matched. In the first half, Dublin virtually matched Laois attack for attack, but all too often the final shot fell short and was easily cleared. In contrast, Laois converted many more of their chances and but for missing two golden goals chances, could have been more than seven points ahead at half time. The defining moment in the second half came when against the run of play, Laois broke upfield and Mary Kehoe scored their second goal giving them an eight point cushion with fourteen minutes of the match left. Given the way their defence were playing, this gave Dublin a mountain to climb in the closing quarter.

Laois had wind advantage in the first half and in the opening minute Mary Kehoe converted the first free of the match, conceded by Elaine Kelly on Tracey Lawlor.

The Dub’s reply was immediate. Anna Connolly fouled Aisling McCormack setting up a free which Angie McNally sent into centre forward Bernie Finlay who put the ball between the posts. Kehoe sent Laois’s next free wide and Dublin went ahead in the fifth minute when McNally slotted over a point from play. Laois saw another chance go wide before their next score. Kehoe and Lawlor combined well to set up Linda Brennan for their first point from play, bringing the sides level.

Moments later midfielder Kathleen O’Reilly sent a good chance wide but Laois were soon ahead when Mary Casey was fouled by Niamh McEvoy from the kick-out and Mary Kirwan converted the free. Laois saw another two chances go wide before Dublin attacked again and were unfortunate not to score. Corner forward McCormack set up Orla Smith for a strike on goals but her shot was well saved by keeper Theresa Swayne. Dublin continued to pressure with McNally and Finlay seeing their next efforts saved on the line and cleared.

Laois regained control but spurred two more chances as firstly Sue Ramsbottom and then Kirwan sent frees wide of the posts. With 17 minutes gone, Kehoe received a perfect pass from Lulu Carroll and she sent over a lovely point. From the kick-out Dublin worked the ball up to Louise Kelly who took off on an electrifying solo run from midfield but the final pass to corner forward Christine McGinty was intercepted and cleared. In the 20th minute, Laois extended their lead to five points when O’Reilly received the ball at pace from Carroll and buried her shot to the back of the net giving keeper Suzanne Hughes little chance.

Dublin came straight back into attack but again the final pass from Finlay to McCormack was well intercepted by Margaret Phelan. Finlay had a further shot on target but it fell short and was cleared by keeper Swayne. In reply, Kehoe converted Laois’s next free awarded for a foul by Martina Farrell on Ramsbottom. Dublin created another chance minutes later when McNally found Elaine Murphy in space but her final shot fell short. Laois came back up field and Lawlor finished a fine move with an excellent point. Dublin created again at the other end as McNally found McCormack who in turn passed to Finlay but the final shot went wide. In response, Ramsbottom received the ball from a sideline kick and slotted over another point for Laois extending their lead to 8 points with 25 minutes gone. Dublin owed the last five minutes of the half but for all the pressure they could only add one point to their total, an excellent punched point from McGinty who connected with a high ball in from NcNally. Three other chances in this period went a begging.

Laois were again the first to score in the second half when midfielder Mary Casey pointed in the opening minute. Now playing with the wind, Dublin began to dominate but crucially 4 chances went wide over the next 5 minutes. In the same period Laois spurned two chances. It wasn’t until the 10th minute that Dublin added to their score when Finlay layed off the ball to Louise Kelly and she pointed. A minute later Murphy added another point for the Dubs with McGinty and Sile Nic Coitir involved in the move. Dublin continued to press but could not convert their chances. Ciotir sent a shot wide and McNally sent a free kick toward the top corner of the goals but it was excellently fielded by corner back Anna Connolly and cleared. McCormack saw a chance go wide and Niamh Hurley forced a 45m kick off a block from Phelan but thee was no addition to the score.

Eventually Dublin added a point. Showing excellent skill, Louise Kelly fielded a high ball from McNally, turned and sent the ball over the bar all in one flowing movement. This brought the Dubs to within 5 points of Laois. Having soaked up the pressure, Laois broke up field with devastating effect. Casey sent in a free from out wide which rebounded off the upright and was collected by Kehoe close in on goals and she buried the shot past keeper Hughes restoring the eight point gap with just 14 minutes left to play.

Despite the set back, Dublin responded strongly scoring 1-1 over the next 2 minutes. McCormack added the point and in a great individual effort McNally produced the goal as she took on three defenders before dispatching an unstoppable rocket of a shot to the top left corner of the net. The sides traded points over the following minutes as McNally’s converted free was cancelled by Lawlor’s point from play. Going into the last 10 minutes, McNally nearly reduced the deficit with a free for Dublin but her high ball into the small square was expertly fielded by Casey and Laois were able to bring the ball up field, where they exerted pressure over the following minutes.

Kirwan added a point in the 25th minutes to leave Laois leading by 5 points. Both sides missed point chances in the closing minutes. In a grandstand finish, Dublin launched one last attack with 30 seconds on the clock. From a sideline kick, McNally sent in a high dangerous ball towards goals. Keeper Swayne made an excellent save on the line and the danger seemed averted, but her clearance was blocked by Hurley who pounced on the loose ball and sent it to the back of the net. But with only seconds remaining on the clock, there was never going to be enough time for Dublin to stroke again and goalie Swayne sent the kickout long and out over the sideline to the sound of the final hooter.

Player of the match: Lulu Carroll (Laois)

Laois:

Theresa Swayne, Margaret Phelan, Patricia Fogarty, Anna Connolly, Alison Hooban, Angela Casey (capt), Claire Casey, Mary Casey (0-1), Kathleen O’Reilly (1-0), Linda Brennan (0-1), Tracey Lawlor (0-2, Sue Ramsbottom (0-1), Mary Kehoe (1-3), Lulu Carroll, Mary Kirwan (0-2).

Subs: Grainne Dunne for Hooban (27 mins). Aileen O’Loughlin for Carroll (50 mins)

Dublin:

Suzanne Hughes, Orla Smith, Orla Colreavy, Sorcha Farrelly, Geema Fay, Martina Farrell, Elaine Kelly, Angie McNally (1-2), Niamh McEvoy, Louise Kelly (0-2), Bernie Finlay (0-1), Emma Redmond, Ashling McCormack (0-1), Elaine Murphy (0-1), Christine McGinty (0-1).

Subs: Tonya Allen for Fay (27 mins), Sile Nic Coitir for Redmond (33 mins), Niamh Hurley (1-0) for McGinty (41 mins), Michelle Stafford for Murphy (52 mins).

TG4 Ladies All Ireland Senior Final

Laois claim the Brendan Martin Cup

Laois 2-14 Mayo 1-16

The 2001 Championship final will surely go down as one of the great finals of recent times. As the game ebbed and flowed both sides took turns holding the lead. Indeed Mayo finished the first half very strongly and at the start of the second threatened to pull away. But Laois’s sheer determination combined with some fine performances throughout the pitch ensured the Leinster champions always stayed within striking distance.

Both free takers, Cora Staunton and Mary Kirwan gave an excellent display of free taking throughout the match despite the added pressure of the scores being so close. Indeed Kirwan’s superbly struck penalty in the 17th minute of the second half proved decisive as it brought Laois level at a crucial time. From there Laois went on to take the lead which they held until the 29th minute when Cora Staunton levelled for Mayo.

Laois threw everything into the final attack and a draw seemed on the cards when first Aileen O’Loughlin’s effort fell short and then Tracey Lawlor’s shot went agonisingly wide. In a final throw of the dice, Laois were awarded a free from the resulting kickout as Cora Staunton played the ball inside the 20m line. Fittingly, Kirwan capped an excellent performance by coolly slotting over the winning point with just 5 seconds remaining on the clock.

For Laois thee were heroines all over the pitch. Their full back line and half back line kept the lethal Mayo forwards at bay. In fact, the Laois players defended in numbers getting bodies behind the ball, with two or three defenders closing down Cora Staunton and Diane O’Hora when possible. Kathleen O’Reilly and Sue Ramsbottom were superb in midfield, with O’Reilly deservedly winning the Player of the Match award for an outstanding performance. Ramsbottom proved lethal going forward taking some excellent scores as well as setting up the Laois forwards. Half forwards Tracey Lawlor and Aileen O’Loughlin often came deep to secure possession and the roving Mary Kehoe and Kirwan proved excellent targets in many of Laois’s attacks.

Mayo too produced some fine performances with Christina Heffernan threatening in spurts. O’Hora, Mullin and Cora Staunton proved the most dangerous up front while Helena Lohan and Maria Staunton gave nothing away in the backs. Claire Egan battled hard in midfield throughout the game.

Cora Staunton opened the scoring for Mayo from a free kick in the opening minutes of play. But within a minute, Laois were level as Kirwan converted a free for a foul by Jackie Moran on O’Loughlin. On Mayo’s next attack a Connolly foul on Marcella Heffernan gave them a second free which Cora Staunton duly converted. Again Laois drew level as Ramsbottom sent over the first point from play on the counter attack. Back came Mayo as Cora Staunton received the ball just inside the 45m line and set off a controlled run before pointing from 20m out. From the kickout Connolly fouled Marcella Heffernan out on the right but the free from O’Hora drifted wide.

As Laois went on the attack again a push in the back by Egan on O’Reilly set up a free for Kirwan who made no mistake levelling the score.

In the 12th minute Mayo went ahead again as O’Hora added a point from play. Within a minute Laois were level as O’Reilly received a perfect pass from Lulu Carroll and ser the ball between the uprights.

In Mayo’s next attack, Christina Heffernan was fouled by Claire Casey and her quickly taken free found O’Hara who passed onto Mullin but the final shot sailed wide. In reply Ramsbottom added an excellent point for Laois giving them the lead for the first time in the match. It didn’t last long as within 30 seconds, Mayo were on level terms as Cora Staunton converted a free for a foul by Claire Casey on O’Hora. At this point Laois started to dominate and recorded three unanswered points in quick succession, two frees from Kirwan and another superb points from Ramsbottom. Mayo hit back when Marcella Heffernan and Mullin combined to set up O’Hora for Mayo’s next point. O’Hora nearly added another shortly after but for a brilliant block by Claire Casey. From the cleared ball Laois went all the way up field and midfielder O’Reilly received a perfect ball from Kehoe in front of goals. Despite the best efforts of Jackie Moran, O’Reilly buried the shot with the outside of her boot to the top corner of the goal giving Laois a five point lead and putting some daylight between the teams with 22 minutes gone.

However Mayo were in no mood to capitulate and the goal came as a wake up call. They dominated the remaining eight minutes of the half and scored a total of 1-4 without reply turning the five point deficit into a two point lead by the time the half time whistle went. A Cora Staunton converted free started the turnaround as Mayo piled on the pressure after conceding the goal. Full forward Marcella Heffernan saw her effort go wide before Cora Staunton added a point from the resulting kickout. She then converted another free with 28 minutes gone. One minute later and an excellent piece of individual skill from Mullin combined with excellent positioning from Egan saw the ball end up in the Laois net as Egan punched home Mullin’s perfect pass from close range. In the closing minute Margaret Phelan-Mulhall gave away possession from a free kick and Christina Heffernan punished her mistake with a point as the half drew to a close.

Mayo extended their lead immediately on the restart as Cora Staunton converted a free kick after O’Reilly had fouled Mullin. Minutes later a fine save by keeper Theresa Swayne from O’Hora kept Laois in touch, but Mayo continued to press. Wides from Mullin and O’Hora followed before Christina Heffernan added a point in the eighth minute. As Laois started to come back into the game Mary Kehoe scored their first point of the second half with a well taken shot. O’Hora extended Mayo’s lead once again in the 11th minute but Kirwan pulled one back moments later. O’Hora had the chance to extend the Mayo lead once again but her free kick went wide. From the kickout Laois worked the ball up field and manoeuvered into a goal scoring position. In desperation Kirwan was fouled close in on goals resulting in a penalty with 17 minutes gone. Kirwan took it herself, striking the ball pas the outstretched had of keeper Horan and into the roof of the goal. Laois had at last gained parity and a minute later they went into the lead as Kirwan converted a free punishing another Mayo foul.

With their spirits lifted, Laois continued to press and from a 45m kick, Linda Brennan combined with O’Reilly to set up O’Loughlin for a point.

In the 24th minute Cora Staunton pulled one back from another free but two minutes later, Ramsbottom pointed to put two points between the sides.

With just three minutes remaining Mayo surged forward looking for the vital scores. A high ball in from Cora Staunton almost resulted in a goal as keeper Swayne came off her line to challenge but Connolly was alert to the danger and was perfectly placed to clear the loose ball from the small square. As Mayo attacked again, Christina Heffernan was fouled going forward and Cora Staunton converted the resulting free. From the kickout Mayo were awarded another free. Christina Heffernan quickly took it passing to Cora Staunton who slotted over the equalising point.

Laois in turn surged forward one last time as the match entered the final minute not content with settling for a draw. Their determination was rewarded when Mayo conceding the crucial free kick in the dying seconds which Kirwan coolly sent between the uprights ensuring victory and with it erasing the ghosts of the past seven finals.

Player of the Match: Kathleen O’Reilly (Laois)

Laois:

Theresa Swayne, Margaret Phelan-Mulhall, Patricia Fogarty, Anna Connolly, Angela Casey (capt), Claire Casey, Grainne Dunne, Sue Ramsbottom (0-3), Kathleen O’Reilly (1-1), Aileen O’Loughlin (0-1), Tracey Lawlor, Linda Brennan, Mary Kehoe (0-1), Lulu Carroll, Mary Kirwan (1-8).

Subs: Grace Weston for Dunne (35 mins, inj), Ciara O’Loughlin for Carroll (43 mins), Gemma O’Connor for Weston (48 mins).

Mayo:

Denise Horan (capt), Assumpta Bohan, Helena Lohan, Edel Biggins, Orla Casby, Nuala Ni She, Maria Staunton, Claire Egan (1-0), Christina Heffernan (0-2), Jackie Moran, Emma Mullin, Denise McDonagh, Diane O’Hora (0-3), Marcella Heffernan, Cora Staunton (0-11).

Subs: Ciara McDermott for M Heffernan (35 mins, inj), Mary T Garvey for Casby (39 mins), M Heffernan for McDonagh (43 mins), Imelda Mullarkey for Bohan (60 mins).

Player Profile

Mary Kirwan (Laois)

Having led NUI Maynooth to League and Championship wins during the year, this gifted player capped a fine season by winning her first Senior All Ireland medal and thus achieving one of her playing ambitions. Having won awards at all levels, all that is missing now is the elusive All Star award which judging by this year’s performance in the All Ireland semi final and final, cannot be far off.

Age: 20 years

Occupation: Student

School Attended: Heywood Community School, Ballinakill

College: NUI Maynooth, studying on an MBNA Scholarship

Course: Arts

Club: Shanahoe

Favourite Position: Right half forward

Started playing: Age 12 in Shanahoe National School.

Biggest influence

On career: My family and David Brickley (Shanahoe NS Principal)

Career & Gaelic

Ambitions: To successfully complete my course in College. To win an Al Ireland with Laois and to win a Senior County title with Shanahoe

Most Memorable

Sporting moment: Being selected to play with the INTO mini sevens in 1994. Also playing with Laois in Croke Park in the 1996 All Ireland final against Monaghan.

Worst sporting

Moment: Losing to Waterford in an All Ireland minor sevens final.

Player you would most

like to transfer to your team: Maura Moran (Longford)

What other team would

You like to play for: Tipperary

Toughest opponent: Donna Dunnion (Donegal)

Your advice to other

Players: Enjoy the game at all times.

Favourite female and

Male footballer: Mary Casey (Laois) and Maurice Fitzgerald (Kerry)

Favourite camogie

Players and hurler: Denise Quigley (Laois) and John Leahy

Favourite sportsperson

Outside Gaelic: Martin O’Neill and David O’Leary

Best advice given

To you: The other team can only be as good as you let them be.

How would you

Improve the game: More publicity of the game including TV coverage. Improve the sponsorship and give more attention to the clubs.

Likes: Home made meals.

Dislikes: Turning on the radio and hearing the end of a good song.

Favourite music: Pop music.

Favourite film and

TV show: Braveheart and Trigger TV.

Favourite newspaper

And magazines: Leinster Express

What would you do

If you won the Lotto: Buy a blue BMW and a house. Take the NUI ladies team on holiday.

Hobbies: Swimming, camogie, football and socialising.

Coaching: I am involved in training the Laois Under 14 football team. I have participated in coaching with the summer camps in both Laois and Kildare. I have also trained underage teams in my own club.

Administration: Treasurer NUI Maynooth Ladies Football Club

Philosophical Comment: Winning a match is very much a team effort, its not an individual sport.

Playing Honours:

School: 1 Leinster Junior winner ’96. I All Ireland Junior Runner Up ’96. Numerous county titles both Junior and Senior with Heywood CS.

Club: 2 Under 16 Championship winners. 2 Minor Championship winners. 1 Junior Championship winner. I Intermediate Championship winner.

College: Lynch Cup runner up 2000. Winner 2001. Leinster League winner 2001. Curran Cup winner 2001.

County: 2 Minor Leinster Championship winner ’97, 98. 2 Senior Leinster Championship winner ’96, 2001. 1 All Ireland Senior runner up ’96. 1 All Ireland Senior winner 2001.

Other: Senior Inter-provincial Cup winner with Leinster. Colleges Inter-provincial Shield winner 2000, Cup winner 2001.

Player Profile

Theresa Swayne Laois

Age: 27

Occupation: Clerical Assistant, Co Carlow VEC

School attended: Carlow Vocational School

Club: Crettyard

Position: Goalkeeper

Started playing: With Under 12 Graiguecullen boys team and then to Crettyard from 18 years.

Biggest influence

On career: My parents, Jim and Margaret Sheehan and Connie Conway of Crettyard and Laois.

How would you

Improve the game: More publicity which would encourage more young players to the game which would improve the standard of an already fast growing sport.

Sporting ambition: To win an Senior All Ireland in Croke Park with Laois.

Most memorable

Sporting moment: Captaining Laois ladies in the All Ireland final in 1996.

Worst sporting

Moment: Losing the 1996 final to Monaghan in the replay.

Toughest opponent: Any forward attacking goal.

You advice to other

Players: Train hard, be committed and enjoy the game.

Favourite female and

Male footballer: Linda Brennan (Laois) and Christy Byrne (Kildare)

Favourite camogie

Player and hurler: Maire Sheehan (Carlow) and Ollie Baker (Clare)

Favourite sportsperson

Outside of Gaelic: Paul McGrath

Favourite music: Irish folk music

Favourite Film and

TV show The Shawshank Redemption and The Sunday Game

Favourite Newspaper: The Star (for the sport)

What would you do if

You won the Lotto: I would look after my family, clear my mortgage and just continue to enjoy life as I do now.

Hobbies: I play soccer for Braun (in Carlow) in the Wexford League.

Administration: Treasurer of Crettyard Ladies GAA Club since 1992. Trained Under 12 and Under 14 teams to county semi finals in 1998. Involved in the management of all under age teams in Crettyard in 1999.

Philosophical Comment: Success can only happen with commitment and hard training.

Playing Honours:

School: All Ireland Vocational Schools runners up

Club: 5 Laois Senior County Championship winner, 1 Leinster winner ’93, 1 All Ireland runner up ’93, 1 Leinster runner up ’97.

County: 5 Leinster Senior Championship winner, 1 Leinster runner up, 4 All Ireland runner up, 1 National League winner.

Other: 5 Inter-provincials, 3 Replacement All Star awards, 1 Leinster Express Sports Star award ’96, 1 Player of the Match award in ’99 Championship.