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Corks Wonderful night of Celebrations

Cork Ladies Football Sponsors Castlelands.

Wonderful night of celebration.


Close on 400 wildly enthuastic personnel involved in Cork ladies Football, partied into the late hours at Rochestown Park Hotel on Last Thursday, when they celebrated Cork’s best ever year in the  Championship arena. Capturing 4 of the 5 trophies available to them at National level. This was an incredible achievement which most people had not tangibly grasped until the memories were recalled on Thursday.

The Senior team took the Brendan Moran cup for the 3rd year in a row. Not to be outdone the Senior B squad who showed real celebratory spirit on the night, celebrated their Aisling McGing cup win. The under 16 and Minor squads won their 3rd All-Irelands in 4 years giving hope that the Senior dominance will continue.  The under 14’s while they did not achieve ultimate honours, celebrated their Division B  win achieved by their 2nd string in the Under 14 All-Ireland blitz, again on the night they were imbued by the spirit of celebration and with many of the squad under 14 again next year, they are determined, not to be out in the cold again. In fact on Saturday morning the process of retribution began when 70 attended the first session of the school of Excellence at Nemo in preparation for 2008. It was a time for Co Board officials, team mentors, club personnel, parents and friends to bask in the glory of achievements, that so few have an idea about the amount of work involved in reaching the pinnacle of success and indeed that is done as well when that pinnacle is not reached. The only downside was the fact that the event was on a Thursday night during the mid term break many of the older players are  teachers and students some now studying abroad. And after the tough year some availed o f the break to take a well earned holiday abroad.

Proceeding was set in motion before a sumptuous meal with the parade of cups by various captains. The Co Lord Mayor Councillor Tomas Ryan a man steeped in GAA tradition who wore the red jersey for Cork with pride in the hurling arena addressed the gathering. Tomas congratulated all involved, in such a tremendous year culminating, with the Seniors 3 in a row triumph, a real credit to the Co. The after dinner speeches were short and practical. Waterford legend Michael Ryan who guided his former kingpins to 4 All- Ireland titles and now involved with the Senior hurlers. He has an incredible love of the sport and was Manager of the Munster Hurlers in their recent Railway cup triumph. Michael is currently President of the Munster Ladies Council as well as National Vice –President and he spoke on behalf of both, with the unavoidable absence of Geraldine Giles, National President. As ever he was passionate, encouraging and supportive of every aspect of the sport.   “Looking at the trophies and the 3 in a row  and I wonder when people talk about 3 in a row, do they say it all too quickly and forget about it. You think about 3 in a row in hurling,  you have To go back to 1978, in football 21 years ago to Kerry,that will tell you how difficult it is. We should not gloss over the fact of the tremendous effort of these players they have been unbeaten in Championship for 3 years, and that’s a huge, huge achievement and there is a lot of credit due to t everybody involved, a fantastic bunch of girls, the brand of football that they play the way they apply themselves, they epitomise all that is good in Ladies football Enjoy your success because in years to come, like we did recently, in a get together, looking back over 30 years, you will appreciate it more later. Not only are ye good footballers, but ye are really good friends and I have no doubt that ye will go on to win more All‑Irelands. The record of course is held by Kerry, with 9, but I would not bet against you lot, not just because you have a good team but a really good structure. You won this years under 16 All-Ireland after being beaten by Dublin last year, won the minor again and won the Aisling McGing trophy, phenomenal achievements, great credit to Mary Collins. The way they are playing football is due in no small measure, to Eamonn Ryan, he absolutely lives and loves the game as do all the managment team. As you know yourselves if you happen to lose a game there are 20,000 selectors around the place  telling you where you went wrong but when you are above in  Croke Park or in a Munster final, you have to make decisions in a very short space of time, so well done to each and every one of them. At underage from 10 up it is the very same brand of football that you play. The first training session you take with your club or team you are preparing your players for the future, if the habits are good starting of they will stand you in good stead in the years ahead. To Charlie and Co you have doner a really marvellous job. To parents I say at times you can be frustrated driving your kids here there and everywhere, it takes up a lot of time and now and again someone comes home with a broken finger, don’t worry, kids involved in sport rarely if ever get into trouble. Id say to the players never stay in a car if someone is driving too fast get your mobile phone and ring your mam or dad or get some one to collect you. Again if things are not right people tend to come back and blame the Co Board you can get 999 things right and one wrong and your hear about it. Cork have a tremendous Co Board in place with 60 clubs and they have an awful lot of fixtures to get through. I wish the 2 clubs left in the Championship Inch Rovers Senior and Mourn abbey Junior all the best in the All Ireland series. My last wish would be to see the day with 40,000 people in Croke Park on All-Ireland day. Some of the things the girls struggle for like meals at training travelling expenses are not part of the mens Co set up, they are treated much better. It is always that bit harder to get recognition to get sponsorship for the Ladies. In the meantime keep up the good work enjoy your sport you will make friendships you will never forget.”

Jerry O’Sullivan representing the Cork Mens Board was lavish in his praise of the achievement of the Ladies. “Three in a row is a remarkable achievement for the players on the field we must remember too the backroom team who work very quietly, they put in no less effort than the players and if the truth were known they put in more. The success of the Senior B Minors and under 16 augurs well for ladies football in the Co and I have no doubt that if they continue to show the same dedication they will on to bring further glory to Cork Co. the only way you can do better is to win all 5 next year. I wish you all well on behalf of the men’s board

Chairman, Tom Luddy was at his usual eloquent best he stated “ A week in politics is a long time certainly a year in ladies football is a very long time, I did not certainly realise how many hours in the week,  it would take. Mallow recently opened their fine new complex, they got a lady called Angela Bailey to manage it, she had no comprehension how adults and players give about 15 hours a week of their own time to their own sport, lining the field cutting the grass training, because  her management of previous sports facilities everybody was paid. I pay tribute to our 160 elite players here to-night and  the other 5000 players  and especially the hundreds of volunteers who make it easier for all of us. To clubs who provide us with their pitches who open the gates, line the fields I am very grateful tot them. Our guests I welcome them all, you know most of whom the represent, the Co Mayor the Lord Mayor, the mens Board the Munster Board the camogie Board, the London Board, they represent hundreds and thousands of people and saying thanking you rebellettes for bringing success to our Co. Last year when we won 3 out of 5 I was not being greedy, when I said we do like to lose the toss

.   Last year we were over the moon with 3 All-Ireland wins and hoped we could make it 5 this year and we went within an ace of achieving it, with the under 14’ s although compiling a huge score of 7-11 lost out to eventual champions Dublin who scored 9-11, they hit the croosbar the goalpost twice and missed a penalty in the last 5 minutes, the B team did win the B section of the Al-Ireland blitz  We are thinking about them also to-night.  Every team Cork sends out we try to have them dressed accordingly, driven accordingly, and we feed them on the way up and on the way back. It is an expensive business, but we in the Co Board the GPC with the managers, liaising with the Co Board, do our best to all this for you, but you delivered the goods and that is why we are here to-night. To our Senior footballers we are really sorry that Mary is leaving, but if you can understand that the ordinary person in a GAA club can give 15 hours a week, what must Mary Collins have done for the 4 years in charge She previously managed her club to Junior and Intermediate All Ireland success and I think she deserves a break and maybe Rockchapel will “rock” again.  To those who are staying and those who will join them I know they will do a fantastic job, we do believe in continuity. We need to be ahead of posse we ne need to reinvent the wheel but continue what we are doing, there are counties out there who are trying to copy us. With Emanon Ryan as Senior coach and Charlie McLaughlin as Development officer we will put a structure into place for next year with more coaching courses for our coaches. Besides the 160 here there are 4800 out there whom must nurture and find games for The Ailing Mugging success was wonderful I went to most games, having a sibling on the team and it was joy to see them and we hope this group will continue to nurture players who will be the elite players of the future, there is a serious gap between Minor and Senior We thank minor and under 16 and their Management team for their successes. As I said the under  14’s my heart goes out to them. Michael said he would like to see the numbers at All-Irelands increase but TG4’s figures proves there are thousands watching the games. The message must be getting out that we are playing one of the best sports played in this country, its true it’s honest its good sport. For the teams going forward representing Cork Inch Rovers and Mourneabbey we wish them well To the schools and colleges, that Dan O’Mahony organises for us, we wish them well we have our success but more importantly we have a good school structure with players who may not be even affiliated to clubs. Finally our thanks tom our honorary sec for the last 6 years Sharon, if any of you have organised a wedding or have been part of one in the past, this was a wedding function to-night with 350 people. She did a fantastic job with the Dinner with Bridget O’Brien she also organised the golf classic during the year.”   Guest speaker former Cork manager John Allen was loud in his praise for 3 in a row, he knew how difficult it was for the hurlers to get 2 in a row, so three in a row is a fantastic achievement We do not always bask in the glory of our achievements we are constantly looking ahead and it might not sink in for 20 years It is not easy there is huge credit due to   you parents mentors etc. When you cross the white line it is the girls on the field who do the business,. In the All-Ireland final this year seeing the amount of fantastic football, so few passes going astray the amount of pressure put on the opposition things like that do not happen by chance He paid tremendous compliments to Jim McEvoy who worked with him with the hurler and did a tremendous amount of donkey work with all the gear and of course the quiet man himself Eamonn Ryan who has a tremendous knowledge of the sport and tactical awareness and has contributed so much to Cork GAA down through the years. He gave Eamonn a bit of a slagging about his car, a motorised shoe box,  and contemplated a collection. He urged the players to bask in the adulation they were entitled to and wished the Ladies continued success. The Lord the Cll Donal Counihane was present, but had to leave early for another engagement.

Next it was medal presentation time

Mary Collins retiring Senior  team manager who guided Cork to three in a row, profusely thanked all who supported her in the past year. She stated, “I’d like to thank the Cork county board for organising this function for all the girls. It’s very hard for the girls to get recognition and by promoting this function, hopefully they’ll get the recognition they deserve. I’d like to thank Tom Luddy and all the county board officers, especially Sharon who has been working with me all year. Anthony the trainer, the GPC, especially Neilus Carroll the fixtures secretary who has changed the fixtures so many times to keep us happy. Id Like to thank Castlelands. Speaking to other counties we have by far the best sponsors in the country. I’d like to thank Castlelands for that. To the clubs, we wouldn’t have a county unless clubs allowed their players to play with us. We never had a problem. Clubs gave us players when we wanted them and rested them when we wanted. To the parents, they have been very helpful. It’s not as difficult now on them when most have their own cars. Makes it easier for everyone. Unfortunately Pat Lynch was not able to do much videoing for us. He’s back with us tonight. The best memory of his work is the video he did of our first all-Ireland. Fr Terry spoke briefly about saying Mass for 2 years for us. This year it was Fr Liam Kelleher. It was nice to have the group together. It was nice to have a Cork man saying Mass. I also want to thank Fr Terry manager of Senior B’s for his cooperation. All-Ireland success is brought by sheer hard work. Management team has been vital and for the last two years we have had Tim Murphy doing stats for us. I’d like to thank him for that. Michael Cotter our physio has been with us for three years and with the exception of Mary O Connor he has got us to three All-Irelands injury free. Cork as a county is unique as we have a doctor with us at all times. Dr Lucy Fleming has been called by other counties as many times. She is a very important part of setup and that was brought home when Geraldine O Flynn got a very serious injury. Thanks to Eileen O Brien (Collins), she does all the work nobody else wants to do. Washing the jerseys and bibs all the year. She folded the jerseys, and had them ready for training and matches. Eileen you’ve done tremendous work for Cork ladies football not just since I’ve been involved. You’ve been involved with Cork u-14 for 3 years before that. And while sometimes your work is underestimated, it’ll never be underestimated by the players and myself. To our management, Jim McEvoy, his contribution has been spoken about by John Allen and other people tonight. Jim brought a hugh amount of experience to Cork ladies football after having been involved with the Cork Senior hurlers. He’s also brought financial support, a brilliant man, I’m delighted he’s staying on till next year. Frank Honahan is absent, he’s out in Rome on holidays. Frankie is a legend in his own right. He’s a brilliant selector, he calls it as he sees it no matter where you’re from. I believe Ger Twomey is stepping down like myself. He’s professional in organising the warm up, when he speaks he’s listened to. There’s no need for me to speak about Eamonn. Not only is he highly respected is his own county, but Ireland and worldwide at this stage. I know John Allen has said that he’s a quiet man that doesn’t say much. He has brought a huge contribution to Cork ladies football. He has brought a knowledge of coaching that’s unbelievable. I’m so delighted that he’s staying to pass on his knowledge to other people. You’re a wonderful person and hopefully your car will keep going for a few more years. Last but not least the bunch of players. We can speak all we like but it’s the players who go out and do the work. There were many wet and cold days in January when the players were running around the field and we were under umbrellas. They have made a huge contribution to ladies football. I’d especially like to mention those who never won an underage medal and they stuck with it through the good and bad times. It’s the blending of those with the young players coming up that has made for this success. They are a wonderful bunch to deal with, they have never been a problem. Thanks to all the friends I’ve made through Cork Ladies football, they will never be forgotten”.

Manager of Senior B team, Fr Terry O Brien introduced his players. He stated: “Eleven years ago when I was sent from a lovely place in Warwickshire to Carrignavar, I met a man called Galloping, which happens to be Fr Kelleher. He introduced me to the world of ladies football. I’m thankful to him for that. I’ve had my purgatory being a Limerick man with all due respect to the Cork people. With my county never getting anywhere near an all-Ireland and I know Michael was involved with Waterford but I’m so happy that we beat them. I was honoured to be manager of as fine a team that I’ve come across in many years. These are an exceptional group of young women. We got together in early January and between that and the 71st session on the weekend of 30th Sept when we played Dublin in the final. We are very conscious the we were honouring the memory of a very special person, Aisling McGee of Mayo. Aisling was 8 years when she started playing football through the Community games. She won 2 National Community games medals 1994 and 1995. She joined the Carnacon club in 1997 and she won a county U-14 medal. Shes a member of successful U-16 and minor teams in 1998 and 1999. In 1998 she played senior football with Carnacon. She went on to win 4 senior county and Connaught club medals, culminating in the all-Ireland club title and the County All-Ireland in the same year. Tragically Aisling lost her life in a car accident in 2003 when she was just 18 years old. In July this year I visited her grave and vowed on behalf of the management team and players we’d win this trophy in her memory. And thanks be to God the girls did not come up short on that day. It would be impossible for me to sum up the commitment of this team. Suffice to say many many sacrifices have been made along the way. They wore the Cork jersey with pride bringing honour to their county, to their families, to their clubs and most of all to themselves. I’d like to mention in particular our captain Niamh Hickey from Kildorrery, who has given tremendous service to ladies football in Cork over the past 10 years. And to her vice-captain Annie Walsh who deservedly won the player of the match. Cork is famed for many things including the many dual players. I congratulate Elaine Burke, Lucy Hawkes and Sharon Whelton. The latter deserves a special mention, she got a serious back injury in April and knowing, she wasn’t going to play for her county for a year. She missed just one training session in that time. It’s fortunate that we have so many fine people involved in coaching ladies football. I was very fortunate to work with three such individuals and I’d like to thank them individually. Jason Lynch who travelled twice a week from his base as a Garda in Wexford. I know Jason over the last 8 years. Anything he puts his hands to he gives it 1000%. No more so this year. He also got a tan this year for the final! Then there is Noel O Connor from Inch Rovers. I’ve known Noel for 5 years. I certainly know because of the work he did this year why Inch Rovers are in the final. Peter O Leary is a Beara man and through the spirit of West Cork people, he brought tremendous zeal and passion and an exceptionally good football brain. Finally I want to thank the various clubs, that the panel belong to for supporting us. In particular Mary Collins and her panel for co-operation. And add my congratulations to the Senior for three in a row. I want to thank the family and friends of the panel who travelled to support us. I want to thank Tom Luddy chairman, Sharon O’ Keeffe secretary, Anthony Dempsey and officers of county board who supported us through out the year. I would appeal to them tonight because of the fact that we only played 7 games to win an all-Ireland title. I hope that next year the powers that be will put us into a league worthy of our participation, at least Division 2. I want to thank national for their help particularly Patricia in the office. And finally our physios Rose O Leary and Collette Minihane. I now ask Peter O Leary to present the team”

Con O Sullivan introduced the Minor All-Ireland Panel. I want to thank a very hard working county board led by fantastic worker. He has brought a lot of professionalism to the county board and continues to work hard for ladies football and that’s what we need in Cork. And for that I’d like to thank Tom Luddy and all the county board officers. I’d like to thank the management teams and especially the senior management. From the start of the year right to the end they were very easy to work with. We had a number of players from the minor panel on the senior panel and hopefully more will be added in recognition of the exploits of the minors during this past year. I’d like to single out Sharon for massive work she has done over the past number of years. Congratulate her on what she has done and wish her the best for the future. I would like to thank Treasurer Anthony Dempsey for all his help during the year. I know you had to come up with a good reason for what you wanted but he was never found wanting. Parents sometimes can be a bit of hassle for selectors, their daughter is dropped and there’s some reason why she’s not on the team, sometimes the parents may not know what the reason is. And this can be unfair on the management team but by and large they are there for the good of the team and not their own good and sometimes parents cannot see that. I would like to thank the parents who bring the players to training from under age up the line. 6 or 7 of those players have never been on a losing Cork team, right up the line and it’s due to the parents continued support that this has been possible. They have won 2 U-14, 2 U-16 and this year 2 Minor all-Ireland medals, this is a massive achievement. The clubs are doing enormous amount of work as well. And this can be seen by the fact that at minor level this year a number of new players were introduced. Players may not always achieve U-14 but with help of coach and clubs may make it at minor level. The achievements of the players before us this evening are second to none. I’d like to thank all the clubs that gave us pitches to train in, especially Fr Terry in Carrignavar. Carrignavar is used at the start of the year when nobody can get a pitch anywhere. Just before I call up the panel I’d like to thank the team I worked with during the past year. I’d like to thank Charlie and Fr Liam because I can remember a time when Cork were having no success and I attended a social and there were 42 people at it. And look at what success does, it builds a momentum. Because of people like these Mike Murphy, Justin McCarthy who were involved in those years when it wasn’t fashionable to be involved in ladies football. Because of what they did Cork are now reaping the benefits. Charlie McLaughlin has made a massive contribution and I found him a great man to work with. Fr Liam out fitness guru with his Juice plus, mighty stuff. Ted O Donovan never misses a training session and a great man on stats. Neilus Carroll who gets excited all the time. Aine Dempsey our masseur. And last but not least Kathleen Kearney, absolutely brilliant.

Neilus Carroll introduced the U-16. What I remember most is travelling to the all-Ireland in the bus. The story about the Mass is that we’d be travelling along in the coach and looking up   the bus and about a half an hour before we would arrive Fr Liam would wake up,  he’d say to the Lord I just want to ask you to give us a hand to win this all-Ireland. I don’t know was he blackmailing Him, but he’d say that if we win, we’d offer up Mass as a thank you on the way home. It seems to have worked every time. The only thing was after winning the U-16 all-Ireland this year, we went back to hotel for a meal and Donegal were there, and Charlie for some unknown reason went over and joined the Donegal crowd and after the meal he invited them to stay on for the Mass. Ted said it was very nice for the Donegal people to stay on for the Mass, but  he looked at it differently. He said when we meet them again will they have a priest and it would be harder to beat them. I wouldn’t worry too much about that  because Fr Liam only knows the fella that wins All-Irelands. Looking down through the year, our first game was against Limerick and after a slow start we pulled away from them in the end. We then went onto play Clare in the semi-final. Halfway through the second half things were going very well, but Clare came back in the last few minutes and we were just hanging on at the end. The consensus after the game was that the next day out would be our last one. But we were proven wrong as the girls literally blew Kerry away and captured a Munster title. Our next game was against our arch rivals Kerry below in Kilorglin. This time the tables were nearly turned on us. It was a ding dong game throughout. In the last 5 mins we were up 2 points. Kerry came back and went up 2 points themselves. With the last kickout the girls worked the ball down the field and got a penalty. Yvonne Cahill placed the ball and the referee walked over to her and told her this was the last kick of the game. This spurred her on and what a last kick it was to win the game and go onto an all-Ireland final, where we met great friends of Charlie’s, Donegal. Charlie was in two camps for the day, but fair play he backed the right one. I’d now like to congratulate the girls. They were a great bunch of girls to work with throughout the year. They are a credit to their clubs and their families. All the members of management were made presentations in recognition of the work they had done during the year. The assembled gathering danced and sang until the wee hours it was an occasion to savour and certainly one recorded for posterity by Pat Lynch, it will not be forgotten too easily.

School of excellence.

There was not much time  to rest on the laurels because

Charlie McLaughlin and his  team had 70 girls from over   30 clubs assembled in beautiful conditions at Nemo on  Saturday morning at 10am. The School will be held for the next 7 weeks and 2 sessions will be held on this coming Saturday at Nemo one from 9.3am -11.30am the 2nd 11.30am – 1.30pm


Briege Corkery Player of the year.

Ciongrats to Briege Corkery on being named ladies Gaelic Footballer of the year.

New book

Congrats to fellow Donoughmore man Bob Honohan on his new book Rebels with a cause launched by Michael O’Mhuieacgtaigh at Rochestown Park on Tuesday night a fascinating read and we will review it next week.

All-Ireland Semi

Good luck to Inch Rovers who take on first time Ulster Senior Champions from Tyrone, Errigal Ciaran at Klleagh on Sunday at 2pm they deserve the full support of the Co.

Saga ends.

The 3rd replay of the Eire Og V Naomh Aban Co under 14 Semi-Final ended in a win fro Eire og 4-9 to 3-3

Fr Liam Kelleher

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