Cork celebrate an outstanding year

Cork celebrated 3 All-Ireland wins and 4 Munster wins, at the Parkway Hotel in Dunmanway on Friday night, in the presence of a huge gathering of 300. Guests of honour were National President Geraldine Giles and compromise Rules Capt Graham Canty, who presented the medals to the girls. Cork won the under 14 All-Ireland title, for the 4th year in a row as well as the All-Ireland blitz, the All Ireland Minor title and the Munster under 16 title for the 3rd year in a row. Eillen O’Brien who did a magnificent job in organising the dinner also acted as a very capable MC during the night.

Stephen Lynch, Geraldine Giles and Cork senior star Graham Canty

The evening began with a tribute to Rena Buckley who the week before had been honoured at the TG4/ O’Neills Allstar awards banquet in Dublin with the Provincial young player of the year award. After a sumptuous meal, Eileen introduced the speakers. Co Chairman First on the floor was Co Chairman Steven Lynch, who welcomed everybody including the special guests and especially the players who had brought such honour to Cork.

Fr Liam, Angela Walsh & Kareina Richards

He stated
“It has been another successful year for our Board both on and off the field. This success has been made possible with the hard work and endeavours by many Team managers, selectors Board officers and a reliable group of people whom we can call on to do anything that is required for the promotion of the sport. This is the real success for a Co Board, people working together for one common goal. My thanks as always to team managers of all age groups from under 14 to Senior for their work over the past 12 months indeed some of them have been with us for the past number of years. Nobody gets paid for training and in the world we live in to-day this is a very rare gesture for coaching any of our teams. You have the best interests of Cork ladies Football at heart and I am delighted you have been rewarded with such success. To the parents for supporting the endeavours of our Board, you have been with us through thick and thin through good times and bad, thankfully we had more good times than bad, during the past year and you must be complimented for your support. We also pay tribute to our many fine referees who have served us so well during the past year, it is not an easy job to do and I am well aware of that myself. We are indebted to all of those individuals, who put their reputations on the line and thankfully we have had very few incidents, so we are delighted to have our referees here with us tonight. Finally to the most important people here tonight, the players your commitment to Cork Ladies Football is very hard to put into words. The pride of wearing the Cork jersey has always been your motivation, thankfully the majority of you have been rewarded as you you have during the past number of years. it augurs well for the future of Cork ladies Football, that with the underage structure we are going places. In an era when people are so quick to highlight the faults, the misdemeanours of our youth, you read about it every single day in the papers, but they very rarely show the good. We hope that tonight in this celebration we acknowledge your achievements. We acknowledge the hard work you have done, the respect you have for your team management’s and the pride that you have given your club, your family and your sport over the past year. I’m sure you will value the friendships you have made in your respective age groups, they will be your friends for life, these people that are sitting at your table here tonight. I also extend my best wishes and that of the Board to Donoughmore Senior, Gabriel Rangers Junior, who are playing the All-Ireland finals at Nolan Park on Sunday the 30th and Naomh Aban in their quest for National honours. We have a very good club structure in Cork and we have 4 divisions and every division took home an adult title and every division took home an underage title. I would like to congratulate Rena Buckley on her award as the Provincial Young player of the year. I am sure it is the first of many and that there will be other players joining you in the years to come, gaining All-stars. President welcomed Steven then welcomed Geraldine Giles President of Cumann Peil Na mBan. Stating that she had brought the Association to a new level. Geraldine said she was delighted to be present. ‘It is a great pleasure to come back as President of Cumann Peil Na mBan, to this great Cork Co Board. My thanks Steven and all the Board members. I thought 2002 was a fantastic year for Cork but 2003 has even surpassed that. You have 2 clubs in All-Ireland finals and Naomh Abán playing Kilmovee on Sunday in the other semi-final and we are looking forward to those finals. Well done to all the Cork teams the under 14’s who had their magnificent win, the under 16’s Munster Champions and I know a lot of those players are going to graduate to minor and senior level. I remember a few years ago when Fr. Liam and Steven were talking about the Schools of excellence, that you were running down here and I can see where the wonderful 4 under 14 titles in a row, have come from and that has gone right through to taking a minor title this year. I can tell you a lot of the Counties around the country are looking to Cork and their successes. Well done to you on your successes and the very best of luck to you in the future.”

Munster Chairman
The next guest Steven introduced was his predecessor as Co Board Chairman Dan O’Mahony.
“Dan came to a Co Board meeting and was elected chairman and then moved on to Munster chairman it shows the great respect that Dan has gained in such a short space of time, as a Board officer both in Cork and Munster. The Munster Council gave us the great honour of hosting the Munster Senior and Junior finals at Pairc Ui Rinn hopefully they will be coming back to Cork again next year and we hope Cork will be there” Dan stated: “This time last year I was down there enjoying myself little did I think that I would be up here again. I would like to compliment the Cork Co Board for the excellent job they are doing and the help they have given me during my term as Munster President. Since i have been Co Chairman the number of clubs have doubled and the workload has doubled so the work the Board is doing is fantastic and they deserve a round of applause. The players are the main people and I would like to compliment them tonight on their success at underage and club level. It is fantastic to see three clubs in the All-Ireland club championships. The Minor team I have seen down the years they have under 14,16 and minor All-Ireland titles under their belt the next step is the logical one. I know my term as Munster President is three years and the one thing I would like to see before the end of the three years is for the Cork team to be lifting the Munster Senior Cup”

Munster Sec Munster Sec Marie Halvey was also loud in her praise. and went on to say
“I reckon it will not be long before ye will be coming through at senior level when ye won the Div 2 league this year, those players will settle for nothing else than a Munster senior Championship title. Fourteen, sixteen, Minor a huge achievement, Div 2 Senior League winners and runners-up in the Division 3. People say its the size of the Co, its not, its the way the management and the Co Board have utilised their players the talent has always been here, but first and foremost it comes from the school of excellence piloted by Charlie. I want to compliment all the players who received players of the Match, and Rena Buckley. I also want to compliment the players from Cork who represented Munster in the Inter-Provincials. Valerie Mulcahy, Karen O’Sullivian, Julie Murphy, Norita Kelly and Jean Lucey. We did not win Interprovincial since 1996 and it was brilliant to win it this year, with 5 Cork girls. So I wish ye the very best for the coming year.”

Co GAA Vice Chairman Steven next introduced the Vice Chairman of the Mens GAA Board Mick Dolan from Fermoy and complimented the Board for their help and support and thanked them especially for the use of Pairc Ui Rinn for the Ladies Board first ever game under lights the Senior semi, between Donoughmore and Rockbán. Donal said
“I am more than delighted to be here tonight on behalf of the Cork Co Board of the GAA. I have had a personal interest in the advancement of Ladies Football in this Co and I can assure you Chairman, if there is anything I can do along with Jim Forbes, we are only too willing to help you. Ladies Football and the involvement of ladies in GAA clubs is amazing In my own club in Fermoy we have a Junior B team and underage teams. There is a spin off for our club the ladies grab a hold of things and they can get a lot done, more than the lads. I am also delighted to see tonight some very experienced men involved, Pat O’Riordan from Milford, Timmy O’Callaghan, Charlie MCLaughlin an old friend of mine whose buddy is involved with Fermoy. Ye are a credit for what ye have done, your officers as well. I am amazed at the list of achievements ye have achieved this year On my way in I heard that famous man Fr., Liam Kelleher saying ‘and they say football, is dead in Cork’ I’m sure Graham Canty will take great note of this and that the men will achieve something again, because ye have definitely set the headlines and we must follow. I look forward when we all will be under the one flag and I for one will be supporting 110% I congratulate Fr. Liam for being elected National PRO, because that man has been so much to the forefront of Ladies football in the Co and achieved before that, such great work in athletics. I wish ye a good night and hope the lady footballers are good dancers after”

Graham Canty Cork Senior Star and Compromise Rules capt Graham Canty had this to say
“It is a great honour for me to be present among such great talent. I congratulate you on your wonderful success this year. You are very lucky as well with the management and structures yea have in place. Your Chairman, Your Board, Your Officers, development committees, and very lucky to have such fantastic players . It is not easy I can assure you because you have to put in so many hours in developing your skills. Another thing I would to say the importance of the role of parents, they do not get mentioned enough. In my case they drove me all over the Co to training. Your future is very bright I was talking to Charlie earlier, about your Minor team this year and their great success and only a couple of those players are over age next year. I wish them and all your players every success in the future.”

Presentation of medals
Then came the time everybody was waiting for the presentation of the medals. Justin McCarthy manager of the under 14 team for the 3rd year in a row complimented all the players and especially the coach, Mike Murphy, Eileen O’Brien who was like a mother to the girls and Charlie McLaughlin and Fr. Liam Kelleher for their help and support. He thanked the girls for their huge commitment and thanked the parents for the huge role they played, in bringing the girls to training and their clubs for being so understanding. Their character was tested really on 2 occasions against Dublin when they had to come from behind on a number of occasions it showed the character the belief they had in themselves and they were not found wanting. Against Mayo when we had to go out without one of the best players in the country Amanda Murphy who was injured the week before, but they went out and did the business. So well done girls.

Graham Canty presented the medals as he did to all teams and Geraldine Giles presented the Cork Jerseys. Mike Murphy thanked all his team and made an impassioned appeal to the Munster Council, not to penalise Cork like this year by not giving them games in the early rounds of the Competition. Under 16 Coach Con O’Sullivan introduced the under 16 team, Munster Champions for the 3rd year in a row. He complimented the players for their fantastic commitment. He said their Munster win was a great achievement, but did not count for much in many people eyes when they did not win the All-Ireland, such were the demands and expectations in Cork.

Cork Minor All-Ireland champions

Cork U-16 All-Ireland champions

Cork U-14 All-Ireland champions

Minor girls

Fr. Liam Kelleher introduced the Minor girls and thanked them again for the huge effort they made and he stated
“First things first its all due to that fantastic bunch of girls down there, they were not expected to win the All-Ireland this year, they were hammered under 14, 4 years ago and they lost to galway in the All-Ireland Semi-Final when they were under 16 2 years ago. Like old wine they get better with age and that is the way forward, they have won 14 16 and now Minor and if they are allowed and given the opportunity, they certainly will do so as well at Senior level. The amazing statistic is that of all the girls that won the first All-Ireland under 14 they are all still there except one. That is a tribute to them and their character. They are the important people, we would not be here tonight only for those girls So we thank them and compliment them as we do the under 14’s the under 16’s. Like Con said, even though the under 16’s won three Munster’s in a row, that does not seem to count with some we have become very selective and demanding. It is good in one sense and bad in another sense. Looking at the situation in a realistic way last year we won three All-Irelands out of 6 and thought that it would be hard to do so again this year, we equalled it and added another Munster title and of course the Seniors won Div 2 of the Suzuki National league and the 2nd team were Div 3 runners up and yet people are demanding. I read on the Ladies Gaelic website a couple of days ago and it made my blood boil that “Cork football was a shambles”

I cant understand why people write that and they would certainly not say so, if they were here tonight It is a compliment to all those girls here, a fantastic bunch not alone good footballers, but every one of them are tremendous characters, a credit to their parents families, a credit to their clubs, a credit to Cork and a credit to society. We treat them very well with our very limited resources. Every situation in life is a 2 way street and they bring in a fantastic amount of money when we are fund-raising. In a Co the size of Cork we had no major sponsor and we looked for people to give us €100 and we put the names into a draw, much of the money was collected by the players and fitting the name that came out was Glengariff Motors and the first day the jersey was worn was by Aine O’Sullivan, daughter of the owner Jerry and she captained Cork to win the Under 14 All-Ireland , how fitting. This was stroke of providence, well it shows how things go in life so we thank you Jerry. I want to congratulate Geraldine Giles on the fantastic job particularly as President for the recent AllStars banquet, the first in over 30 years of Allstar nominations. Take a bow Geraldine you are giving a great profile and image to the Association. Thank you for taking time out to come from Westmeath to Cork not that long a journey, seeing you went to New York a few weeks ago for their Dinner. There is one area we must work on and that is support for Cork teams. I went up to Longford for the under 16 All-Ireland final and I reckon there were over 3,000 people there, when we played the Minor All-IReland we had about 50 supporters, I think the National executive would be in the horrors if Cork got to the Senior All-Ireland final we might not have 1,000 supporters, but hopefully things will change, As Con said we take it for granted. We must take nothing fro granted every year is a different year and we must take every year as it comes and build on the year before. This Minor group started back in December we went down to Kerry for 3 days and I have to say the first thing we did was to go to the pub to watch Liverpool and Arsenal in the league. Two of the Seniors went with us and after an hour they asked could it be all right if they had one drink. None of the others drank and wearing 2 hats here, that is what I expected.

The abuse of drink is ruining sport and ruining life for many people it is the biggest problem in our society, make no mistake about it. I appeal to all the girls here to refrain from drinking. If you lose control of yourself you will be no good to anybody, you will be no good to yourself, no good to your family and no good to sport. You must be very very aware of the dangers of drink, you will be hated for it and you will be mocked and laughed at, but stand on your own 2 feet. I know why you have been successful because you have stood on your own 2 feet up to now. I appeal to the Minors especially they are at a critical age and it is important that you go in the right direction and keep the goodness that you have. Earlier in the year we had no problem with training because nobody else wanted them, late in the year everybody was dragging them in different directions. Some players had to play 5 matches a week, some girls had to play a Co Minor Championship match 3 days before an All-Ireland semi-Final. Some people had the attitude ‘they are going to win anyway’ you can’t have one rule for one and another rule for somebody else, we say we do things with good intentions, but good intentions are never enough if the players are going to suffer. Adults and everybody involved must think of this the players come first and foremost in every situation I bear no animosity whatever, despite what some people might think and I have the highest regard and sympathy for 3 girls who missed the All-Ireland Minor final. Two were not allowed even to go because they were subs on the camogie team, in the All-Ireland the following day and one who was out of the country playing soccer for Ireland. I think they deserve tremendous credit for the way they handled the pressure they were put under. I can honestly tell them we put them under no pressure whatever,they were forced to make their decision under duress and we respect them for it. Some people even suggested that they should not even get All-Ireland medals and I abhor that suggestion. They are three tremendous players and all I will say is whatever choice they make, they can always say that we always looked after them. We will always love to see you playing football when the opportunity arises. The sooner both Boards get together to sort out this mess the better. I had a fixture list during the year setting out Cork’s senior camogie Round robin games, it was changed at a weeks notice and clashed with Cork’s first championship match against Clare. The Ladies Football master plan had all fixtures, under 14, 18, Minor, Junior, Senior and Club outlined before the end of 2002 and there was no deviation from that. We knew exactly what was coming up well in advance. Finally our Minor win would not have been possible but for the tremendous work of Charlie McLaughlin, team Coach, in developing the skills and playing tactics of the girls which he has done since they were under 14. The work he does right down along the line including the School of Excellence and the Summer camps, that is the basis of all the success. Look at any of the teams under 14, 16 and Minor they can kick with both feet they can pass well ,they have all the skills. Thanks to Christy O’Sullivan who has been with us for the past 4 or 5 years and Sheila Quinlan who cannot be with us tonight, you could not meet more dedicated people. We all, have our commitments and we all can’t be there every hour of the day or night. We are just amateurs but treating our work as professionals, without being paid for it. If we were in other sports we probably would be getting very high wages for our achievements, but we are not and long may it be so. So thank you again girls, a fantastic bunch –All-Ireland Champions. There is one thing left, Croke Park is the the stage to make your mark girls, you have to work hard to achieve that. I did it with a camogie team in Charleville and they won in Croke Park about 15 years ago their work ethic was superb and at one stage they trained for 26 days in a row, including a run on Christmas day.That work ethic has continued and St Mary’s Charleville, have won 25 All-Ireland titles since. Girls ye too, have that work ethic, there is nothing going to stop ye from going to Croke Park if ye want it. but you must want it”

Special presentations were made to all the management teams for the year as well as to Eileen O’Brien and Geraldine Giles. Pat Lynch was was made a presentation for his huge commitment to Cork in videoing all their matches and finally to Steven Lynch for all the work he has done as chairman of the Board and Steven received a standing ovation for his tremendous work. Colm Cronin with his lively music provided the perfect finale to what was truly an amazing night for Cork Ladies Football.

Fr. Liam Kelleher PRO 087-8516984

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