All-Star Tour a resounding success

All – Star tour a resounding success. By Fr Liam Kelleher

The inaugural ground breaking O’Neill’s TG4 All-Star tour
to New York has been a resounding success. A happy bunch of
girls and officials arrived back in Dublin tired but relieved,
that the trip of a lifetime, was such an overwhelming success.
Cumann Peil Na mBan can be justly proud of the representatives,
that created such a big stir in the big apple. There were
many who believed that the Association had bitten off more
than they could chew, but having experienced the situation
first hand, nothing could be further from the truth.

As far as arrangements go and I can speak from lots of experience
of having managed Irish athletic teams at World and European
Championships, this trip was simply brilliant. For the 6 days,
from the accommodation at Fitzpatrick’s hotel in the heart
of Manhattan, to meals, tours etc. Atlas tours did a great
job and of course it was all made possible by the sponsorship
ot O’Neills and TG4. There was also the matter of a game and
that too created a huge stir but more about that later.

Doherty’s was our first port of call for dinner on the evening
of our arrival and for the remaining 6 mornings, it was the
meeting place for our breakfasts giving us a great start to
each exciting day. Tour of New York. The open bus tour gave
us a great flavour of the city and of course seeing all the
famous landmarks, going to the top of the Empire State, going
on a boat to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Even
the naughty antics of a seagull could not dampen the spirits
of Marcella, Annalisa and Lynette. We returned from the tour
in high spirits for dinner at Fiona’s Friday was another hectic
day with a visit to the Woodbury Common shopping complex,
almost a two our ride out of the city, here a lot of money
was spent in a shopping complex which housed many of the household
names in designer goods, particularly footwear and clothing.

Certainly judging by the number of bags returning to the bus,
a huge dent was made on the precious finances, but most were
delighted with their many bargain buys. That evening we had
our first official engagement at the Irish Consulate which
was a short walk from our hotel. The placed was packed to
capacity and the stars mingled freely with the many guests,
including the management and members of the Mayo Senior team,
in the big city, to play New York in the Connaught championship.
With formalities completed some retired to Dohertys for dinner,
but those lucky enough to get tickets for a Broadway show,
enjoyed the stage version of “Chicago”. I must say that I
was lucky with my niece Regina, to get a ticket, at the last
minute, at half price and while it was a riveting show, I
must confess though that tiredness, got the better of me,
on a few occasions, but I still got good value for 50 bucks.

Saturday was work day, when everybody had to work and work
hard at that. The six tutors, helped out by the All-Stars
in coaching the 100 or so young girls, who turned up at “Paddy’s
field” in the Bronx on the famous Van Cortland Park, in glorious
sunshine. After the coaching session, the tutors put the All-Stars
and some of the travelling officials and local coaches, through
their vigourous coaching routine, before doing an indoor session,
after dinner, in a nearby church hall. To say that everybody
was gob smacked, by the sessions, would be an extreme understatement.
It was certainly an eye opener to everybody, who had never
experienced their routine, the theme of their coaching programme
recently launched in Dublin is entitled “Unlocking the Potential”
and no title could be more apt for a course unveiled by, the
7 people who completed the course under Liam Moggan an old
friend of mine. To Eilish Gormley, Denise Martin, Nicola Scott,
Michaela O’Neill, Martina Dillon all Tyrone and Seamus Braniff
from Down we say a sincere thanks and to Eileen Jones as well
who could not make the trip. The crew are taking a break during
the Summer months, but Counties should be queuing up to avail
of their expertise when they return in the Autumn. This development
if properly supported will pay huge dividends for those who
will avail of it and will bring Cumann Peil Na mBan to a higher
level. It is so important that a brief outline of the programme
is essential.

1 The course: “Unlocking the Potential” is a fun dynamic
and informative programme designed by coaches for coaches.

The first course in the programme is “FUNdamentals”, a foundation
level course designed as an introduction to good coaching.
Coaches will gain some insights into the theoretical underpinnings
of successful coaching as well as having the opportunity to
coach and learn in a safe environment. All course tutors have
completed the NCTC Tutor Education Programme.
2 The Content: The FUNdamentals course comprises 4
units, 2 of which are practical Unit 0ne: Good coaching practice.
Unit Two ABC’s of Gaelic Football. Unit Three Group Management
and Child Protection. Unit 4 Coaching– a session Coaches
will look as issues such as planning and implementing training
programmes as well as practical coaching and an introduction
to the Player Pathway. These units will provide a good basis
for further development for those already coaching or those
who are keen to get involved.

Feedback The Feed back has been very positive
“Constantly changing groups, therefore mixing with and meeting
new people. This meant hearing other peoples views and opinions
about topics.”
“The practical side was great for putting what we learnt
into practice”
“Lots of opportunity for group input and discussion”
“Tutors didn’t think they knew it all– and listened to all
opinions’ groups had to come up with ideas themselves rather
than being told everything”

President Geraldine Giles sums it up nicely by saying. “Unlocking
the Potential is an apt title for Cumann Peil Gael Na mBan’s
new coaching syllabus. This initiative is one of the most
important developments in Ladies Football in recent years.
The significant growth in numbers playing the game gives rise,
for a need, of a structured coaching aid, for all units of
the Association. The potential that, has brought the sport,
to where it is at today, will be unlocked even further through
this course.” All the All-Stars took part in this course for
about 4 hours apart from the “City Girls” who were off on
a filming crusade with Marty, Ronan and Cameraman Ian. No
doubt we will se the fruits of their work soon on TV. The
first episode is planned for the first session of the “Sunday
Game” and the first edition of “Breaking Ball” one thing is
certain they will make for compulsive viewing.

The days work complete it was off to have a look at that theatre
of dreams that is called Gaelic Park and thence to Terry Connaughton’s
Riverside Steak House, which had celebrated 25 years the previous
week. We were just in time to watch the Kentucky Derby live
on the big screen. The scrumptious meal was never more welcome,
Terry a founding father, of Ladies Football in New York, is
a larger than life character and true to his Roscommon roots,
he had the presentation of a special jersey to the only Roscommon
woman on the panel, Mary Beades. After it was straight back
to our hotel on Lexington Ave and an early curfew of 9pm,
for the players, who would be on centre stage the following
day at the Gaelic Grounds. To their eternal credit the curfew
was observed without a whimper and this would pay handsome
dividends on the morrow with a totally committed display all
round on the field. I made my way to Times Square with Peter
Rice and Pat Quill, Pat had spent the previous week developing
the sport in New York

The Sunday game.

Sunday dawned with a fine soft Irish like mist enveloping
the metropolis. After breakfast in Doherty’s it was time to
give thanks to the Lord with our Sunday celebration. The only
place at Fitzpatrick’s, that could accommodate such a big
congregation was the bar. Proof was presented in a pic, by
my good friend Ray McManus, which appeared in the Indo the
following day. The surrounds did not inhibit us, not a whit
and we had a wonderful celebration of thanks and praise. We
finished by singing “Bind us together” and at that stage you
sensed, the close bond, that had brought us on this mission
together. This was very important to me in my profession,
I have always made it a priority to have mass on various trips
like the Olympics, World Championships and world cross-country
championships. I have celebrated mass previously in places
like night clubs and in rooms with pictures of Communist dictators
over my head. Part of my belief for success is, there are
three essential things needed, they are to be Physically,
Mentally and Spiritually prepared, and they are all of equal
importance, in my eyes, most can get at least two right, it
takes an exceptional person to get the three right. The greatest
memory I have of the six underage successes at All-Ireland
level I have been involved in with Cork, during the last 4
years, is our Mass of celebration after each of the six. Strengthened
and fortified with the Lord’s blessing we headed for Gaelic

Thankfully by match start time at 12pm, the rain had cleared
and gaps appeared in the clouds and the pitch nestling in
the shadows of the renowned Manhattan College, which the previous
evening looked like a roller coaster, after a days carnival,
was transformed overnight. The girls did not disappoint the
big appreciative audience they gave an exhibition of all that
is good in the game with exciting passages of open football
with excellent scores. Predictably the All-Stars defeated
the rest of Ireland and it was great to see new York Clubs
represented by 10 of their own. For the record I include the
short report I penned at the time in between taking a video
and still pictures and a report back for radio in Ireland.

All-Stars score thrilling win over rest of Ireland.

All-Stars 7-9 Rest of Ireland 5-7

The first O’Neills/Tg4 All Star tour to New York has been
an outstanding success. The exhibition game played at Gaelic
Park on Sunday before the Connaught/ championship game between
Mayo and New York, provided thrilling fare for the big appreciate
audience. As exhibitions go this was a game with more of a
Championship flavour as both teams strived for victory. The
opening 10 minutes belonged to the Rest Of Ireland with goals
from Debbie Lee Fox and Mary Kirwan putting it up to the All-Stars..
Goals from Angie McNally Mary O’Donnell and Geraldine O’ Shea
got the “Stars” back on track and they turned over with a
comfortable lead of 5-5 to 2-3. The 2nd half continued to
produce free fast flowing football with regularity. Certainly
the 28 girls who made the trip and who were joined by 10 other
girls from the New York Clubs gave of their very best and
while the All-Stars won as expected both were a credit to
Ladies football on both sides of the Atlantic. It was Denise
Horan’s last major game, having recently retired from the
Inter-co scene, after winning 4 senior All-Ireland medals
with Mayo

All-stars:Geraldine O’Shea 1-4, Angie McNally 2-0 Mary
O’ Donnell 2-0 Michelle McGing 0-4, Lisa Cohill 1-0 Ann Marie
O’Malley 1-0 Michaela O’Neill 0-1

Rest Of Ireland
: Mary Nevin 2-1 Marcella Heffernan 1-1
Debbie Lee Fox 1-0 Mary Kirwan 1-0 Tracy Noone 0-2 Eilish
Gormley 0-1 Lynette Hughes 0-1 Jenny Kirby 0-1

Andrea O’Donoghue Kerry, Patricia Fogarty Laois,
Eleanor Fox New York Marie Kavanagh Dublin, Annalisa Crotty
Waterford, Martina Farrell Dublin, Emer Flaherty Galway, Angie
McNally Dublin, Mary O’Donnell Waterford, Lisa Cohill Galway,
Christina Heffernan Mayo, Michelle McGing Mayo, Bernie Finlay
Dublin, Geraldine O’Shea Kerry, Lorna Joyce Galway, Justine
Clifford New York, Lorraine Leacy New York, Mena Tuohey New
York Anne Marie O‘Malley New York Michaela O‘Neill Tyrone

Rest Of Ireland.
Denise Horan Mayo, Sorcha Farrely Dublin,
Ruth Stephens Galway, Jackie Murnane Kerry, Aoibheann Daly
Galway, Jenny Greenan Monaghan, Mary Beades Roscommon, Debbie
Lee Fox Donegal, Lynette Hughes, Tyrone, Mary Nevin Dublin,
Eilish Gormley Tyrone, Kelly Lacey Donegal, Tracy Noone Kildare,
Marcella Heffernan Mayo, Mary Kirwan Laois, Aine Cullen New
York, Ellen McGrail New York, Aisling Boyle New York, Nuala
Carroll New York, Jenny Kirby New York

After watching the one sided Mayo- New York championship game
we headed off to another functions at Rory Dolan’s, after
another superb meal we all got a chance to show our disco
skills and some of us older brethren are paying the price
since. Nollaig Cleary made presentations to Helen and Geraldine
who in turn made a presentation to Nollaig for the superb
job of Organisation they had done. Nollaig was delighted with
the whole tour and mutual sentiments were expressed by Geraldine.

After our late, late show, we were left to our own devices
on Monday, I headed for the he biggest camera store in the
world, with Ray and purchased a lens, I had been dreaming
about for 20 years but could not afford, I stumbled on a real
bargain. It was Ray’s first time on the subway and we took
in Madison Square Gardens, home of some great sporting occasions
including many of Eamonn Coghlan’s and Marcus O’Sullivan’s
great in door mile triumphs. The rain failed to dampen our
spirits Ray returned to go back to Ireland. I galloped off
again to see St Patrick’s Cathedral, I got in the daily 5.30pm
Mass, had a look around Rockerfellar centre, NBC studios and
Radio City. I was just back in time to travel to our final
function, a lavish meal at the rambling house to our final
destination, a little bit later than anticipated to Granuailes
the home of Rosie 0’Reilly, at that stage I must confess,
I was beat and made it back to base by 2.30, the lively ones
did not make it until well after dawn.

There was one more destination on my mind, on the morning
of departure, a trip to ground Zero. I had up to the top of
the twin towers 30 years previously, and the full enormity
of Sept 11 really hit me, when I was at the scene. I met a
good lady who gave me first hand details of some of the happenings
and she brought me to Trinity church, 50 metres away from
the ill-fated towers,amazingly not a window of the church
was broken, the church was used as an emergency base and now
it is a virtual museum, recounting some of the amazing stories
of that ill fated day. It was my final image of New York one
I will never forget, like the trip itself. We had lovely girls,
good company, great camaraderie, with no chiefs and everybody
united for one common purpose, the promotion of all that is
good in sport without any hidden agendas. It was hard to part
Fitzpatrick’s, whose staff were simply wonderful. We were
seen off by Nollaig and Rockchapel girl Nuala Carroll, with
a definite yen to return whenever it will be. Armed with 400
pics and more than 3 hours video which will recall an incredible
6 days, all made possible by an incredible bunch of All-Star
ladies. Thanks for the laughs, thanks for happiness, thanks
for the togetherness and as the song goes “Memories are made
of this”

Fr.Liam Kelleher PRO 087-8516984

Sign up to our email newsletter


Partners & Supporters





See all LGFAClubs