Cork lady footballers celebrate in style

Cork lady footballers celebrate in style
By Fr Liam Kelleher.

Rochestown Park hotel, was the place to be, on Saturday night last, where the Cork Co Board hosted a gala dinner, to honour the girls who have brought such tremendous success to the Co during the past year. The colossal achievements of the Seniors of 4 in a row, was still very fresh on peoples minds, as was the success of the Senior B ladies and the under 16 girls in retaining their All-Ireland crown with their brilliant win over Galway, not forgetting the Munster Minor Champions who did not retain their All-Ireland crown, but gave of their best. There was a great show of appreciation for the management teams, involved with each of the squads and huge praise was heaped on the parents who play such a massive role especially where the younger players are concerned, in bringing them to training which for many entailed long journeys sometimes 3 times a week. All were remember at various times during a most joyous and uplifting evening. I have attend numerous functions, down through the years and this years event to honour the ladies was tops. From start to finish, there was an air of achievement, not in a pompous way, but a genuine acceptance and acknowledgement of a group of girls, that have shown dedication commitment and a niceness which is important as well, with no hint of their massive achievements going to their head. This is the one great thing we can say about the seniors in particular they have set standards and an example that the younger players can aspire to and that is very important, in keeping Cork at the level they are at.

Fine array of speakers.

Usually speeches can become tiring and bore some, but on this occasion, despite the number of speakers, there were a lot of practical things said, that made a lot of sense and kept the packed audience both entertained and uplifted. The chairman of the Co Board Tom Luddy acted as MC and did his usual efficient job he welcomed all the distinguished guests and the players and complimented the players for their outstanding contribution to the success of Cork ladies football, he thanked everybody in the Co Clubs parents officials. The Co has now 64 clubs and the sport is growing by attraction, but there must be more support particularly from the ladies for their own girls particularly on big match days, of the 84,000 or so that attend men’s All-Ireland day at least one third are women. He complimented the successful teams and with the Senior B team successful for the 2nd year in a row the incentive is there for players to progress to the senior panel and some have done so. Playing in Croke Park is the icing on the cake and the 100 days or so of hard training, makes it all the worthwhile. Similar sentiments were expressed by the National President of Cumann Peil Gael Na mBan Geraldine Giles who was delighted to be back inn Cork for the 4 in a row celebrations after missing out on the 3 in a row. She complimented the girls and wished the Co the very best in the future. Munster President Michael Ryan, a man who knows more that most, about ladies football, having helped former kingpins Waterford to 4 titles in 6 years and club Ballymacarbry to 14 Munster titles on the trot, as well as 10 All-Ireland club titles. As usual he was very forthright and went through the entire team extolling their merits from keeper Elaine Harte, whom he said was the best keeper in Ireland for a number of years and was delighted she has been selected as the Munster footballer of the year, with Aine O’Leary young Munster player of the year. He stated all Cork’s backs are forwards as well and reminded him of the old cowboy films, when the Indians were attacked they were always someone to take their place when they fell. He surmised,’ has there been a better player in the country over the past number of years than Juliet Murphy’ and he was delighted her regular midfield partner Norita Kelly was back after a cruciate knee ligament operation. The forwards can run all day, so it success all the way, he urged them to enjoy the success, you are role models you erally deserve success, but it will not last forever, but make it last as long as you can.

Special guest.

The special guest speaker for the evening was former great and TV pundit Thomas Mulcahy. He stated he was a sub on this occasion for Jimmy Barry Murphy, who is now a highly respected official of the Irish Greyhound Board and was committed to the major event of the year at Curraheen Park, the Cashman Irish Laurels. Thomas kept the crowd entertained with his witty remarks, laced with a good dose of solid advice and common sense. Success of 4 in a row was never achieved by the men and never will, success at senior level filters down, and it is so important to keep the seniors at the top. The level of skill and intense passion was joy to see. Great credit to the backroom team and particularly to Eamonn Ryan who has done so much for Cork football, but when the players cross the white line its up to them. Success comes from the players, this is a game that is on the rise, with a superb level of skill. Recognition for players is important as it is for parents because when there is nobody else to take children to training, it’s the parents who do it, this is being lost on the male side big time, he stated. You are an organisation that make things happen, concentrate on your own product, you are doing it right, he advised. Thank the sponsors, somebody puts their hands in their pocket when no one else does, hopefully Castlelands will stick with Cork, in the future when some of you are thinking, about building houses think of Castlelands. He also stated that TV coverage has made a huge difference. He recounted a few incidents with Paudi O’Shea, like swapping his no 26 jersey, for Paudi’s no 2, when he came on as a sub for the last 20 minutes of the Munster final in 1985. Also the incident in Croke Park when Kerry were playing Dublin in the final and Joe McNally rtied to soften Paudi out before the start of the game and teased him asking him did he come up by bus or train. The game was not on long when Paudi in his own inimitable way sorted the Dublin “big fella” out and as he lay semi unconscious on the ground, whispered in his ear ‘tell me were you hit by the train or the bus’ He also told how much training has changed with the taking on board all these special gurus and the warm up now, is nearly as long as the game. The only warm up the greatest dual star ever, Jimmy Barry-Murphy did, was when he put on his jersey, he put his 2 hands together, blew in to them.

Jim Murphy Development officer of the Co Board was full of praise for the achievements of the ladies and referred to unsavoury incidents which he witnessed after the game of high handed rough boy tactics of the Croke Park stewards. Marian McCarthy chairperson represented the camogie Board who too are basking in the glory of their Senior camogie success making it a great double for the ladies.

The political arena was represented by the deputy Lord Mayor Michael Ahern, who in brief but meaningful contribution stated how proud everybody in Cork was of the success of the ladies. Gerry Kelly deputy Co Mayor also made reference to the Croke debacle at the end and stated he had no objections to his photograph been taken. He also gave an amusing twist to the Valerie Mulcahy late sending off in the semi final, which deprived her of an All Star nomination, he urged the ref to brush up on his gaelic, noting that Valerie was a teacher in an Irish school, and he did not interpret what she said correctly. I suppose the Richie Kavanagh vocabulary could be consulted as well. Speeches over, it was presentation time with the Seniors, Senior B’s Minors and under 16’s, presented with their medals. Each member of the management teams was presented with trophies in appreciation of their work with the teams. Flowers were presented to the deputy Lady Mayoress, Mrs Ahern. Mrs Kelly. Ann Luddy wife of Chairman Tom, as was secretary for many years Sharon O’Keefe. The formalities complete shortly after midnight, it was time for the twinkle toed brigade to show off their skills for the next 2 hours, which passed very quickly to bring the curtain down on a year and a night to remember. Many thanks too to assistant secretaries Bridget O’Brien and Catriona McManamon who organised the dinner and to the Shane Livingstone and his staff at Rochestown who had everything spot on as usual.

Munster Club finals

Saturday is a huge day for 2 Cork clubs who contest the Munster club finals. Inch Rovers who retained their Co title recently after a terrific final victory over Donoughmore, will be in action in the Senior final. Their opponents are the famed Ballymacarbry club from Waterford who have won 14 Munster club titles and 10 All-Ireland titles. The game is fixed for Glanworth on Saturday should be a cracker and well worth travelling to see. Inch can call on a full panel of players and they have a great mixture of youth and experience with most of their players having played with Cork at some stage. Led by Angela and Ciara Walsh, Annie Walsh, AnnMarie Walsh, Mary O’Connor of the Senior panel and young guns like Claire Keohane and Jessica O’Shea, they should have enough fire power to overcome the Deise girls.


The game will be preceded by the Intermediate Final between Ballingeary/Inchigeelagh and Limerick champions Athea. The West Cork girls rode their luck a little in their semi win and it will take huge effort for them to annex this prestigious title. They have the talent to do it and while their team may be very young in age profile, like Inch Rovers, many of their players have Cork experience including their scorer in chief Rhona Buckley. They have Cork Senior selector Justin McCarthy in their corner, while Inch have Noel O’Connor.

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