Ladies Gaelic Association announce All-Star tour

Gaelic Association announce All-Star tour

The Ladies Gaelic Football Association
today announced details of the first ever All-Star tour.
In what is a historic day for the Ladies game in Ireland,
and indeed for female sport in this country, New York was
announced as the destination. The 2003 O’Neills/TG4 All-Stars
will play against a Rest of Ireland selection in the famous
Gaelic Park grounds in the Bronx on Sunday, May 2nd as the
curtain raiser to the New York-Mayo Connacht Championship
match. The teams will leave Dublin on Wednesday April 28th
and will return from the Big Apple a week later on Wednesday,
May 5th.

The game is sure to have massive appeal in New York, traditionally
a hotbed for Ladies Gaelic Football and which boasts an
extremely competitive Ladies Gaelic Football championship
with seven active club teams. Indeed, the substitutes for
both teams will be made up of players based in New York
and the All-Star and Rest of Ireland teams will conduct
coaching sessions for the local teams at both senior and
underage levels during their stay. Unsurprisingly, All-Ireland
champions Mayo lead the way with seven of the touring party
while runners-up Dublin will be represented by five players
– three All-Stars and two on the Rest of Ireland selection.
The Suzuki National League runners-up Kerry have no fewer
than four players as do the All-Ireland semi-finalists and
rapidly improving Galway. League Champions Laois have two
players on the Rest of Ireland team, including seven time
All-Star star Sue Ramsbottom, who picked up her first All-Star
award way back in 1988.

Speaking today, Ms Geraldine Giles, President of the Ladies
Gaelic Football Association said, “The O’Neills/TG4 All-Star
trip has the unique distinction of being the first ever
of its kind but also the players travelling will be taking
part in coaching sessions with the underage teams in New
York to aid in the promotion and development of the game
in New York.” Emphasising the importance of the trip as
a promotional exercise, Ms Giles outlined some of the plans
for future development of the Ladies game overseas. “Over
the past year or so the New York Ladies board have been
working on a development squad with a view to the Ladies
International Tournament in 2005. We hope this trip will
help these New York based young players identify with the
sporting heroes of our sport”, she said.

Representatives of the Irish community in New York in general
and from the New York Ladies Gaelic Football Association
in particular have enthusiastically welcomed the official
announcement of the trip. Describing the trip as a major
boost to all those involved in New York, the Chairperson
of the New York Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Ms Nollaig
Cleary said, “We are delighted and extremely grateful that
Cumann Peil Gael na mBan have chosen New York as the destination
for the first ever All-Star trip. This is an excellent opportunity
for us to promote Ladies Gaelic Football in New York and
to honour the best players of our game.”

Seven time All-Star player and four times All-Ireland winner,
Mayo’s Christina Heffernan, expressed her delight at the
announcement. Echoing the sentiments of all those selected
to travel, Heffernan said, “I think it is a brilliant idea
and everyone is really excited about the trip. The profile
of Ladies Gaelic Football is growing all the time, and this
trip is going to raise the profile once again.” Heffernan,
who won the first of her seven All-Stars back in 1996, underlines
how much the All-Stars concept has come on. “Last year was
the first banquet for the All-Stars, and now the trip has
put us up on a pedestal just like the men. I really cannot
wait for the trip and the game in New York”, she stated.

The All-Star game in New York is another landmark for the
Ladies Gaelic Football Association. The All-Star awards
began back in 1981, but it took until 2003 for the first
formal awards ceremony to take place, sponsored by O’Neills
and TG4. Over 500 guests attended the banquet in City West
with President McAleese as guest of honour. The All-Star
trip is just reward for the stars of the Ladies game, for
their commitment, skill and dedication.

Ladies Gaelic Football continues to grow, with attendance
at the last two All-Ireland finals reaching in excess of
30,000 and participation numbers up all the time. The future
of the Ladies game has never looked brighter. Underlining
the importance of this historic announcement, Ms Helen O’Rourke,
Chief Executive of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association
said, “The All-Star game in New York is just another example
of how the game of Ladies Gaelic Football is continuing
to grow and grow. It has taken a lot of toil to put this
together but it will all be worth it when the girls run
out in Gaelic Park in May. The game will serve a dual purpose,
as it will give a major shot in the arm to the Ladies game
in New York while rewarding the efforts of our most talented
and dedicated players in a most appropriate fashion.”

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