Meelick Legend honoured for over 32 Years of service to Ladies Football



Robin O’Connell founded Meelick Ladies Football Club in 1987, on the centenary of the Meelick Men’s Team reaching the County Final.  Robin wanted every girl in the parish to get the chance to play football. Players from all ages came to the pitch and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  Robin was unique in that he had contacts all over the County and beyond and organised a number of tournaments for the players to play in.

Under Robin’s guidance, the Club won five county titles in a row and a number of girls from the Club wore the Clare Jersey with pride at all Levels and played on teams that brought All Ireland success back to the County.

 First Meelick Team in 1987

In recent years, Robin founded East Clare Gaels (an amalgamation of Meelick and Parteen Ladies Football). Robin has done a huge amount of work for Ladies Football in the area and club down through the years and is still actively involved in the club.  Not only is he chairman of East Clare Gaels but he also involved with the adult and underage teams. He goes above and beyond for the club. He has travelled to Lahinch with the underage team for bonding days. He also brought young girls to play in Croke Park with Gaelic4Girls. In 2017 he took the adult team up to Dublin for the weekend to take part in the All Ireland 7’s. For the 2018 All Ireland Ladies Football final Robin brought over 30 girls to break the record for the biggest attendance the record for the highest attended women’s sporting event in Croke Park. He has given girls great opportunities and unforgettable experiences in ladies football.


Robin doesn’t just bring teams on days out, he does fantastic work off the pitch with the running of the club along with Emma and Sarah Hastings. He is the main driving force behind East Clare Gaels and is hugely involved with management, recruitment, fundraising and social events for the club.

East Clare Gaels, County Champions 2018


Sun, rain, hail or snow, Robin is at every training session and match where he passes down his strong passion and knowledge of the game to players of all ages. He is always at hand encouraging players at training and telling girls to “stand in front of your player” at every match.


In 2013, Robin helped East Clare Gael win their first title by winning the Junior B County Championship. On Friday 28th of September 2018 and at the age of 83 he won his 14th championship title in total in a final that will be talked about for years. The final East Clare Gaels against Cúil Gaels was originally played early September in Clarecastle, but with just four minutes left in the match, the game was abounded due to a serious injury on an East Clare Gaels player. The replay of the final took place on a cold Friday night in Tubber. After a hard battle of sixty minutes on the pitch, both sides could not be separated (2-6 to 1-9) at the end of regular time. A nail biting twenty minutes of extra time followed. Every player on the pitch emptied their tank trying to break the deadlock and with fatigue sitting in to both sides, a point each by both sides was all that was scored. Once again when the whistle blew at and the teams were still at a stalemate. After such what was an epic eighty minute battle, every player and supporter stood waiting to hear what was the faith of the final.


Would it be another replay? Would there be more extra time? Referee John McDonagh and Clare Ladies Chairperson Kieran Harvey consulted, and it was decided that the final would have to finish on the night, and that it would be decided on a 30 metre free taking shootout. Each side nominated five players. The first point to go over the bar was by Cúil Gaels on their third kick. Many thought that was enough for them to take the title back to West Clare, until Sarah Quinn of East Clare Gaels on the fifth and final kick went over the bar. It was down to sudden death. Player after player walked up to the 30 metre line, held the ball in their hands and prayed it went over the bar. It was clear both teams were exhausted and players were struggling to make the score. After numerous attempts by both sides it reverted back to the start, with goalkeeper Tara Mannix stepping up to the line and coolly slotting the ball over the bar. After two matches, extra time and a free-taking shoot-out, East Clare Gaels were crowned Junior B County Champions.


Life Time Achievement Award

On Saturday 19th of January of this year, a fantastic night was had to celebrate the big achievement. A great attendance turned out to see Robin present the winning team with their hard earned medals. The county final win wasn’t the only thing celebrated on the night. Robin O’Connell was presented with a well-deserved lifetime achievement award for the abundance of work he has done for Ladies Gaelic football over the past 30 years. The award was presented to him by a special guest and one of Robin’s most successful players, Breda Ahern. Breda won five county championships in a row under Robin. She also played county with Clare where she won a very impressive two All Irelands, three Munster Championships and three National Leagues. Breda stated “The lady footballers owe Robin a deep dept of gratitude” and never was there a truer statement said. He has continued to inspire generations of girls to play football in our area and across the county of Clare. He has also influenced many of his past and current players to become involved in coaching and management within the sport. He is certainly keeping the spark of Ladies Gaelic Football shining bright in East Clare and beyond. Robin O’Connell is not only the life and soul of our community but an inspiration to our players, club and county.


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