Women’s Football in Longford

1980 – 2005


The venue for the first Longford ladies football meeting was in the Europa Tavern, Co Longford.

Competitions played for:

The club competitions for the first year were run on a league basis 15 a side. Curran’s Garage Arva sponsored the “Anthony Curran” cup for the winners. The Breffini Arms sponsored medals for the competitions. Killoe were the first winners of the “Anthony Curran” cup.

Competitions played for today:

Under 16 League Championship

Under 18 League Championship

Senior Championship

Senior 11/13 a side League

Senior 9 a side league

Why was the County Board formed?

It was formed to provide a playing outlet for a number of girls from different parishes who had expressed an interest in such a venture. This interest would have been sparked as a result of neighbouring counties participation and success in ladies football.

First Officers and venues:

Organised ladies football was played in Longford for the first time in 1980, with the formation of a county board:

Chairman: Terry McCormack Clonguish

Secretary: Anne McGuire Killoe

Treasurer: Ann Brady Colmcille

PRO: Anne McGoldrick Killoe

Under 13 League Championship

Under 14 League Championship

How many clubs when Board was formed and how many clubs now?

In 1980 when the ladies football was formed in Longford, five clubs registered. There were: Dromard, Killoe, Legan, Abbeylara, Colmcille.

In 1981 at the AGM of the county board held on 14 January 1981, 15 clubs registered for competition. This was in fact more than any other county in the country at the time. Those clubs were: Abbeylara, Colmcille, Sean Connollys, Cashel, Eire Og (Drumlish), Moydow, Kenagh, Forgney, Longford Slashers, Shroid, Dromard, Ardagh, Legan, Killoe, Conguish.

County team trial

There was a wonderful turn out of girls for the county team trial at Farneyhoogan on Saturday last. 66 girls, representing 12 clubs took part. The clubs not represented were Abbeylara, Clonguish and Kenagh. After dividing the girls into four teams of 15 and playing two 40 minute matches, the selectors were confronted with the unenviable task of selecting a panel of 21 players as during the trial each and every girl gave of her best and for that reason the selectors task was the more difficult.

After a long and strenuous period of consideration the following panel was selected, and each member is requested to be in Farneyhoogan on this Thursday 9 July at 7.30 pm.

Ardagh: Maura Keenan, Rose Reynolds, Mary Farrell.

Colmcille: Lil Rudden.

Cashel: Mary Hanley

Dromard: Connie Healy, Elizabeth McLoughlin.

Eire Og: Una O’Hara

Killoe: Mary Bratten

Legan: Mary Masterson, Bernadette Kenny, Veronica Kenny.

Sean Connollys: Mary Brady

Shroid Slashers: Fiona Quinn, Therese McKiernan

Longford Slashers: Edel McGuire, Paula Fitzpatrick, Rita Kilemade,

Geraldine McGreevy, Geraldine Gray, Anne Kilemad

The first round of the Leinster Championship is on Sunday 19 July.

The Longford Leader – Friday 14 August 1982

Leinster Ladies football final

Ladies seek Leinster crown

Longford’s lady footballers go into the big time on Sunday next when they compete in the Leinster final against Offaly in Moate (3.00 pm).

This is the first year for the ladies to participate and they have reached the decider by beating Wexford in the semi final a few weeks ago.

Longford has had a county team for only 8 weeks and the ladies will really have their work cut out when one considers that Offaly have not lost a game in Leinster in the past 7 years. Team manager Jude McGrath, certainly doesn’t rule out a Longford victory and has his team in strict training for the past few weeks.

Players showing good form for Longford recently are Patricia Reynolds (Ardagh0), the team’s top scorer, Edel Maguire (Longford Slashers), Connie Healy (Dromard), and the team captain Mary Bratton from Killoe.

The Longford team have made their presence felt in their short existence having beaten such established teams as Roscommon (challenge), Wexford (Leinster semi final) and Leitrim (twice in challenge games). With this record behind them, they can face Offaly with the greatest of confidence.

It is hoped that a large contingent of support from the county will make the short journey to Moate to cheer on the girls in Blue and Gold to victory and land Longford’s only Leinster title this year.

A coach will leave from Market Square, Longford at 1.00 pm and there are a limited number of seats available. Fare is £1.50 and seats may be booked with Noel Caslin, Longford.

Offaly master Longford’s footballing ladies

Longford’s footballing ladies may have been beaten by kingpins Offaly in the ladies Leinster football final at Hogan Park, Moate, on Sunday last but nevertheless performed with distinction in this their first year in the provincial championship. To have reached the Leinster final at all was an achievement in itself and they were in no way overawed by the opposition in Sunday’s decider.

True, the Faithful County had won the Leinster Championship ever since its inception some 8 years ago, but this did not deter the Longford challenge. Although Jude McGrath’s charges were on the receiving end of a seven point beating, one wonders had they played to their true potential, what would the final outcome have been.

Offaly led by 3 points at the interval (1-5 to 1-2) after a flying start, and held the upperhand throughout the second half to run out somewhat flattering winners on the score 2-11 to 2-4. Longford scorers on this occasion were Mary Bratten (1-3), Patricia Reynolds and Edel McGuire (0-1 each).

It’s back to the nitty gritty of the County League on Sunday next when yet another series of matches will be played. The ‘match of the day’ could well be at Cullyfad where Killoe entertain Longford Slashers and neither side can afford to drop points in their pursuit of League leaders, Ardagh. All appointed referees are requested to fulfil appointment as their non-appearance at matches in the past has been partly responsible for the backlog of league fixtures.

Reflecting back to Sunday’s Leinster final, it was displeasing to note that the grass at Hogan Park had not been cut for some time and as such, players had difficulty gaining possession. However, full marks to a fine referee for his excellent handling of the game, which was second to none.

One has no doubt that Longford (a very young team) will make a bold bid for provincial honours next year when hopefully they will turn the tables on their Offaly counterparts.

Nothing on the Leinster final 1982 but I can confirm the following:

25/26 June: Longford v Wexford – score 4-5 to 0-5.

Semi final 18 July 82 – Longford beat Dublin (no details)

Minor Championship 82 – semi final – Longford 0-10 Laois 0-1 (no details of final).

League title 82: Longford 3-3 Leitrim 0-10

Longford 0-3 Wexford 2-5


The success of the team in 1996 – 1997 could first of all be attributed to the fact that 415 exceptionally strong club teams; Ballymore, Rathcline, St Helens, Clonguish, Killoe, had emerged, allied to this the fact that it was decided to organise squad training on a regular basis with Martin Reilly being in charge of these sessions, together with selectors Liam Forde, Gary Fenelon, Peter Donlon and team physio, Mary McNerney. An enormous effort was put in during the 1996 season, and we duly won our way to the All Ireland final, which we unfortunately lost to Clare, who were definitely the better team on the day.

While this defeat was a heart-breaking experience for players and officials alike, we had learned many hard lessons along the way and these lessons were of great benefit to us in the following 1997 season.

For 1997, we trained harder and longer, and were more determined to go one step further, and as we clocked up one victory after another in 1997, the big prize was then in sight.

When at last we faced Tyrone in the final in Croke Park, we were fiercely determined, totally focused and convinced that our hour of glory had come.

When at last the victory was achieved, we felt an enormous sense of satisfaction and pride. It was an experience that I personally, and all concerned with the team will never forget. As a result of this win, ladies football is enjoying a ‘mini boom’ in Longford with the emergence of new clubs, namely Colmcille, Mullinaghta, Carrickedmond. I feel that the game within the county can only go from strength to strength in the years ahead.


All Ireland ‘B’ semi final

Opponents: Dublin

Venue: Pearse Park, Longford

Score: Longford 1-8 Dublin 107

All Ireland ‘B’ final

Opponents: Down

Venue: Scotstown, Monaghan

Score: Longford 3-14 Down 0-5

1992 – Moyne did not reach Leinster final. Granard Convent beat them.

1991 – Moyne CS played Caheron in All Ireland semi final in Ballinasloe.

1996 – Leinster Junior Championship Final.

Venue: Dr Cullen Park, Carlow

Score: Longford 2-15 Louth 4-1

1998 – National League Final

Venue: Mullingar Shamrocks, Westmeath

Score: Longford 1-9 Meath 0-15

1997 – National league Final

Venue: Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, Galway

Score: Longford 2-7 Roscommon 1-9

1997 – Leinster Final

Venue: Dr Cullen Park, Carlow

Score: Longford 4-6 Carlow 3-7

1997 – All Ireland Final

Venue: Croke Park, Dublin

Score: Longford 2-11 Tyrone 1-10

1996 – All Ireland Final

Venue: Croke Park, Dublin

Score: Clare 5-9 Longford 4-9

1997 – Under 16 Leinster Final

Venue: Mullingar Shamrocks, Westmeath

Score: Longford 7-13 Meath 2-8

Under 18 Leinster Final

Venue: Stradbally, Co Laois

Score: Longford 1-7 Laois 2-5

1998 – Under 18 Leinster Final

Venue: Kells, Co Meath

Score: Longford 1-14 Laois 6-5

Vocational Schools, Cnoc Mhuire Granard

Leinster final won in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998.

All Ireland final in 1996, 1997

At time of going to press, Cnoc Mhuire Granard were contesting the 1998 All Ireland final v Bothair Bui, cork. Result not known yet.

Present Clubs 1998

The following are a list of present day clubs in Co Longford:

Under 16:

Dromard, Carrickmond, Killoe, Rathcline, Ballymore, St Helens, Colmcille.

Under 18:

Killoe, Rathcline Dromard, Ballymore.

Under 13:

Killoe, St Helens, Dromard, Colmcille, Ballymore, Carrickedmond.

Under 14:

Carrickedmond, Ballymore, Colmcille, Dromard, St Helens, Killoe.


Dromard, Mullinaghta, Carrickedmond, Clonguish, St Helens, Killoe, Ballymor5e, Rathcline, Colmcille.

Players honoured with All Stars:

1988: Carmel Browne, Christine Jordan, Evelyn Bannon

1985: Josie Cregan, Carmel Browne

1998: Fiona Blessington – All Star replacement

1997: Fiona Blessington, Dara Gill – All Star Replacement.

Hopes and aspirations for the future

T continue our steady improvement at county level, and to ensure as far as possible that every club within the county would have a ladies football team.


Home to Meath and Louth, away to Dublin in the senior championship, lost all threee matches. No information on the league, other than beaten by Clare in the final by 7 points, game played in Ballinasloe.

Fiona Blessington won the player of the inter-provincials playing for Leinster. She also won an All Star Award.


Division one league gained promotion from Division 2 from 2000.


Clare 2-15 Longford 0-4

Meath 2-13 Longford 1-2

Tyrone 2-10 Longford 3-9

Longford 0-6 Monaghan 1-09

League semi final in Ennis playing Clare beaten by 8 points, no scores available.

Leinster Championship:

Longford 1-6 Meath 2-12

Longford 3-17 Louth 0-06

Dublin 0-12 Longford 0-6 (out of championship)


Division 1 league:

Longford 0-7 Clare 0-9

Longford 1-3 Meath 11-13

Mayo 0-7 Longford 0-9

Roscommon v Longford, no score. Longford won by 1 point and remained in Division 1.


Longford v Dublin (no score, Dublin won)

Longford 7-27 Westmeath 2-4

Semi final: Laois 3-14 Longford 2-5


Galway v Longford (no score, Galway won well)

Kerry v Longford (Kerry won)

Monaghan v Longford (Monaghan won)

Clare v Longford (Longford won)

Playoff – Longford 5-12 Clare 1-5. Remained in Division 1

Champship games:

Dublin v Longford (Dublin won)

Louth v Longford (Longford won)

Weatmeath v Longford, Longford received a walkover from Westmeath.

Semi final – Longford v Laois (Laois won)

Sharon Treacy received a replacement All Star award.

Minor Championship:

Beat Kildare at home in first round at home.

Played Meath in the final, score 10-10 to 1-2, Meath winning game, game played in Loman’s Park, Mullingar.

Under 14 played in the Leinster B Championship final in Abbeyleix against Wicklow.

Wicklow won the day, no score available.

Longford maintain Division 1 status

Longford 4-12 Clare 1-4

Longford ladies still remain the only Longford team playing Division 1 football and hopes are high around the county that their male counterparts will achieve the same status next Sunday in their clash against Derry.

Longford totally dominated the game, despite early pressure from Clare and a visitor’s goal from a penalty in the 9th minute. Longford looked to have more flare in the forward line with Michelle Hannify and Mary Burke running riot and as a pair, link very well. Burke notched up 2-09 during the game and score some fine points with Hannify involved in many of the build up moves.

In defence Longford looked solid and despite the absence of key player, Sharon Treacy, coped well with any Clare attack.

Alison Smyth and Michelle McElvaney did a great job tracking back in defence and do indeed make a fine midfield partnership.

It was Clare who showed the more promise in the early stages and put the Longford defence under constant pressure; Karina Mulvihill was forced to pull off two great saves. Clare were unable to convert their possession to scores and were guilty of some wayward kicking in the opening few minutes. Noelle Cummins took her chance from the penalty spot in the 9th minute, but this was to be Clare’s only score of the half. Michelle Hannify was then fouled en route to goal and tapped over the resulting free.

Burke added a second free minutes later and Longford began to take control of the game. Burke added a further 1-05 and was proving to be a real problem for the Clare defence.

The Longford goal came when Hannify took advantage of an unforced error by the Clare goalkeeper and flicked the ball to Burke, who finished well. Maura Moran, operating at wing half forward, also added a point in the 19th minute as Longford dominated the scoring exchanges. By half time Longford had clocked up 1-09 to Clare’s single goal from the penalty, and were clearing the game.

On the restart, Burke was again to the fore and Hannify put her team mate through for the Clonguish woman’s second goal in the 31st minutes. Orla Keane replied with a free for Clare but the Munster girls were being outplayed in all positions. Burke added another free after 41 minutes after a fine move with Alison Smyth and Hannify. Keane responded with Clare’s first point from play after 43 minutes to bring the score to 1-02 to 2-09.

Burke added two more frees with Hannify finishing a lovely goal in between, following a great solo run from the full forward.

Una Downs added Clare’s third point after 27 minutes and the goal scorer Cummins added another after 31. Longford then introduced Edel Harrington, Louise Brennan, Anne Kiernan, Denise Murtagh and Donna Leavy into the game.

Drumlish’s livewire, Murtagh, put Harrington through to finish Longford’s 4th goal and leave them on an impressive 4-12 tally. Clare closed the game with a Grace Lynch point, but the game was over long before the final whistle.

Longford will be happy with their overall performance and feel that come championship time, they will be better capable of taking the bigger teams down. The forwards were unstoppable and lined well together and although Burke finished in a big personal tally, all the forwards were instrumental in the decisive victory.

Longford’s defence proved unstoppable with Yvonne Barden, Barbara McElvaney, Marie Carrigy and Michelle Ross providing a wall Clare couldn’t break down.


Karina Mulvihill, Marie Brady, Aideen Gilchrist, Carmel McElvaney, Yvonne Barden, Barbara McElvaney, Marie Carrigy, Michelle McElvaney, Alison Smyth, Maura Moran (0-1), Mary Keirnan, Shiela Farrell, Michelle Ross, Michelle Hannify (1-3, 1f), Mary Burke (2-9 3f).

Subs used: Denise Murtagh for Mary Keirnan (45 mins), Edel Harrington (0-1) for Maura Moran and Louise Brennan for Shiela Farrell (54 mins), Anne Keirnan for Mary Burke, Donna Leavy for Yvonne Barden (58 mins).


Emma Slattery, Cliodhna Talty, Niamh Keane, Carmel Considine, Tammy Hehir4, Catherine O’Loughlin, Aine Greene, Noelle Cummins (1-1 1p), Olivia Lucas, Lorraine Kelly, Niamh Keane, Una Downes (0-1), Leona Murphy, Orla Keane (0-2, 1f).

Subs used: Grace Lynch (0-1) for Lorraine Kelly (40 mins).

Referee: Tony Clarke (Dublin)

Report: Niamh Egan

Longford piped by the Kingdom

Kerry 1-13 Longford 2-09

Last Sunday saw Longford ladies play in their final game of the Suzuki national league and having suffered a heavy defeat by mayo last weekend, they faced a formidable Kerry side in Killarney.

Kerry seem to be the team to beat at the moment and having defeated Mayo and Galway away, and recording an impressive 5-19 to 3-7 victory over All Ireland finalists Monaghan at home, Longford had it all to do in this game. If they had any hope of staying in Division 1 football, a win for the girls in blue and gold was compulsory and so, with guns blazing, they set to their task.

Longford changed their line-out from the previous week’s game, with marie Carrigy taking her place in the starting 15.

Kerry’s inside full forward line was always going to be the real threat to Longford’s defence, with the three, Patrice Denney, Geraldine O’Shea and Kasey O’Driscoll contributing 4-13 of Kerry’s total score against Monaghan. Longford played against the win the opening half and Kerry midfielder, Mary Kelly scored a few early points to settle the home side. O’Shea added further scores to leave her side with 5 unanswered scores early in the half. Longford’s first score came in their second attack as Michelle Hannify found the back of Andrea O’Donoghue’s net.

Mary Burke, starting at half forward, then added another point for the visitors as Longford began to edge slowly into the Kingdom’s lead. Kelly at midfield was posing as a scoring threat to the Longford defence, as she clocked 5 points in the opening half. At the break, the Kerry side led by 0-11 to 1-2, Alison Smyth Longford’s second point just before the half time whistle.

Longford lost Sharon Treacy due to injury in the first half and was replaced by Ballymore’s Maria Farrell. With the wind in their favour, Longford were quickly down to 14 players, following Mary Burke’s dismissal on her second yellow card and the odds now really stacked against then.

Barbara McElvaney was also forced to leave the field due to injury, but these setbacks only seemed to stir further determination in the Longford side. Michelle Hannify, a real star for the side on the day, scored two points in succession and Kerry’s O’Shea replied.

Hannify was not finished her scoring spree yet as she registered two further points to finish the day on a personal tally of 1-6. Substitute, Denise Murtagh, managed to take the ball on her left foot and bury it to the back of the net, taking Longford right back into the game. O’Shea had Kerry’s first chance of goal following Longford’s great comeback, and her shot was stopped only to come back to Mary Kelly.

The Kerry midfielder made no mistake in finding the net with the rebound. Kerry only managed to register5 1-2 in the entire second half due to outstanding defensive play from the Longford side. Marie Carrigy was solid throughout, with Barbara McElvaney influential in defence prior to her departure. Michelle Ross, playing defensive role, was also to the fore with Michelle Hannify causing major problems for Kerry with her scoring ability. Alison Smyth and Michelle McElvaney were excellent throughout and are coming together in their midfield partnership, while all other players showed great determination in a great team performance by the Longford side.


K Mulvihill, M Brady, S Treacy, A Gilchrist, Y Barden, B McElvaney, M Carrigy, M McElvaney, A Smyth (0-2), M Burke (0-1), S Farrell, C Keirnan, C McElvaney, M Hannify (1-6), M Ross.

Subs used: M Farrell for S Treacy, D Murtagh (1-0) for B McElvaney and D Leavy for C Kiernan.


A O’Donoghue, G O’Malley, K Gleeson, J Murnane, R Ni Cinneide, S O’Connor, L Ross, E O’Connell, C Kelly, K Kennelly, D Shanahan, M Finnegan, P Dennehy, G O’Shea, K O’Driscoll.

Mayo show how its done

Mayo 5-12 Longford 0-5

Last Saturday in Ballaghaderreen, All Ireland champions, Mayo displayed ladies football at the top level. Longford were left far behind as the girls from the west overcome their opponents with great authority.

Mayo opened the game with a Marcella Heffernan goal after three minutes, following poor defensive play in front of goal. Staunton then added a point following a well worked move with Heffernan. Mary Burke replied with Longford’s opening score, courtesy of a free after seven minutes.

But the home side’s Diane Horan added a close range point to increase her side’s winning margin. Annette Gallagher then fired the ball past Karina Mulvihill to extend Mayo’s margin even further. Sharon Treacy then scored a great point from the right wing, following her move to the forward line, on the 15 minute mark and consequently hit the crossbar with her next attempt.

However, the ball fell kindly for Treacy’s Killoe team-mate, Claire Keirnan and she made no mistake in firing the ball over the bar for Longford’s third point.

Mayo then pushed for further scores and added another goal, from Gallagher, and two further points before the half time break, leaving the scoreline 3-4 to 0-3 after 30 minutes. Mayo could have been further ahead had it not been for two fine Mulvihill saves in the Longford goal. Longford failed to pick up their game in the second half, but in fairness, it would have been difficult to do so taking into account the Mayo performances all over the field.

Mayo registered 2-8 in the second half to Longford’s 0-2.

Mayo’s Cora Staunton added 1-2 with Annette Gallagher contributed to further points to her two-goal tally. Claire Egan, Christina Heffernan, Martha Carter and substitute, Michelle McGing also registered scores for the home side. Mary Burke was the only Longford player to score in the second half, contributing two points after 32 and 51 minutes respectively. Only one other forward managed to record scores, Claire Keirnan, with centre back Treacy also adding one point.

Longford will need to improve on last weekend’s performance if they are to overcome Kerry in Killarney next Saturday. This is a key game in the league and Longford need to get some points on the board or relegation bells and play offs may once again toll.


Karina Mulvill, Aideen Gilchrist, Barbara McElvaney, Marie brady, Michelle Hannify, Sharon Treacy (0-1), Yvonne Barden, Alison Smyth, Michelle McElvaney, Sheila Farrell, Michelle Ross, Claire Keirnan (0-1), Mary Burke (0-3, 1f), Mary Keirnan, Carmel McElvaney.

Subs used: Marie Carrigy for Claire Keirnan (half time), Donna Leavy for Barbara McElvaney (inj 48 mins), Helen Connefry for Carmel McElvaney (58 mins).

Leinster Under 14 Championship

Well done to our Under 14s, who had a great win over Louth in Ballinalee on Thursday last. Great credit goes to these girls who are bringing honour and gold to the blue and gold heresy once again. As in all the games they played, there was no one player that stood out from the rest, with great supporting play from Janie McCormack in goals, who had a great game and indeed saved a penalty in the first few minutes of the game. Doirean Fox at full back had a great game while Lindsey Cline and Imelda Higgins played well on the half back line. Denise Murtagh and Kathleen Donohoe paired well in centre field while all the forwards were keen to put their team ahead, especially Aoife Conterton who scored 2 of Longford’s 3 goals.


J McCormack, Aisling Forde, Doirean Fox, Caroline McCormack, Linsey Clyne, Imelda Higgins, Maggie Kane, Kathleen Donohoe, Denise Murtagh, Michelle McCormack, Ann Marie Brattan, Alison Kenny, Amanda Matthews, Clare Hannon, Aoife Conerton.

Subs used: G Kearney, M McElvaney, S Duffy, M Kiernan.

Wicklow 4-10 Longford 5-5

Longford Under 14 travelled to Greystones on Saturday last, to contest the fourth round of the Leinster Under 14 Championship. Wicklow got off to a great start playing with the win and indeed dominated most of the first half play with a half time score of 2-4 to 3-6 in Wicklow’s favour. The girls wearing their away kit due to the clash of colours started well in the second half and indeed at one stage was ahead by a goal, with a few minutes remaining. Denise Murtagh made a great run in but was pulled down illegally and a free was awarded. But alas the Wicklow players cleared their lines well and cleared the ball. From a kick-out the Wicklow midfield took charge and gave a fine pass into her half forward and took the return, and went ahead and scored a goal levelling the game once again but from the kick-out, one of their forwards was fouled by Lindsey Clyne and once again, Wicklow went ahead by 4 points. But the Longford girls fought back with a goal from Denise Murtagh leaving the final score 4-10 to 5-5. We now play Westmeath in the decided game this Thursday in Keanagh at 6.00 pm. If the girls can pull this game off, we are playing in the Leinster final on Saturday 20 April, venue to be decided.

Longford beat Westmeath well gaining their spot in the final against Wicklow. Final played in Abbeyleix and Wicklow won by 2 points.


Louise Casey, Aisling Forde, Doirean Fox, Caroline McCormack, Linsey Cline, Imelda Higgins, Maggie Kane, Kathleen Donohoe, Denise Murtagh, Michelle Mccormack, Ann Marie Bratten, Alison Kenny, Amanda Higgins, Clare Hannon, Aoife Conerton.

Leinster Under 16 Championship

Hard luck to the Under 16s who drew with Louth on Thursday last, in a game that should have been over and won in the first half, where there was a total of 13 wides.

Unfortunately for Longford, a drawing game was no use to them in this championship as they needed a win to secure their place in the Leinster playoffs on Saturday week. It has to be said that a lot of the strong players within the county did not appear to be interested in playing for their county due to lack of interest on their own behalf and the behalf of their clubs.

The team that played on the day were:

D Murtagh, A Farrell, O Casey, H Carrigy, M Denning, D O’Hara, L Smith, A Fox, M Farrell, N Donlon, L Donohoe, L Clarke, B O’Neill, A Fox, C Kelly.

Subs used: F Reilly, C Greene, S Murray.

County Board Committees from 1998


Chairperson: Liam Forde

Vice-Chair: Peter Donlon

Secretary: Eilish Rhatigan

Assistant Secretary: Ann Kiernan

Treasurer: Mary McNerney

Registrar: Mary McNerney


Chairperson: Liam Forde

Vice-Chair: Peter Donlon

Secretary: Mary Burke

Assistant Secretary: Eilish Rhatigan

Treasurer: Marie Matthews

Assistant Treasurer: Mary McNerney

Registrar: Marie Matthews


Chairperson: Liam Forde

Vice-Chair: John Doherty

Secretary: Marie Matthews

Assistant Secretary: Eilish Rhatigan

Treasurer: Mary McNerney

Assistant Treasurer: Phil Mulligan

Registrar: Joe Kilbride


Honourable President: Liam Forde

Chairperson: John Doherty

Vice-Chair: Joe Fox

Secretary: Marie Matthews

Assistant Secretary: Eilish Rhatigan

Treasurer: Mary McNerney

Assistant Treasurer: Joan Burke


Irish Officer: Barbara McElvaney


Chairperson: John Doherty

Vice-Chair: Joe Fox

Secretary: Marie Matthews

Assistant Secretary: Mary Burke

Treasurer: Mary McNerney

Assistant Treasurer: Joan Burke

Registrar: Joan Burke

Irish Officer: Barbara McElvaney


Chairperson: Sean McMullin

Vice-Chair: Joe Fox

Secretary: Marie Matthews

Assistant Secretary: Mary Clarke

Treasurer: Joan Burke

Registrar: Joan Burke

PRO: Niamh Egan


Chairperson: Sean McMullin

Vice-Chair: Joe Fox

Secretary: Mick Casey

Assistant Secretary: Mary Burke

Treasurer: Geraldine Hanley

Registrar: Geraldine Hanley

PRO: Aoife Farrell

Longford Scrap Book 1995 – 1997

1995 Ladies Football Final

Ballymore Ladies Sparkle

Ballymore 0-12 St Helens 1-8

This was a notable day for Ballymore, their first ever Ladies Senior football title. And such was the tension shown by the Ballymore side that they almost let go of the prize when within possession of the grail.

Right on the stroke of time, a long ball was played in by Michelle Hannify, sister of inter-county player, Colin. Directed to Dara Gill, Sharon Clarke rescued with a saving clearance. The incident summed up much of what went before. The champions played like champions but faced a resolute and resistant Ballymore side.

And if that wasn’t enough, with seconds remaining, Dara Gill had another chance. Another long ball tantalisingly hopped in the square and in rushed Sharon McKenna to snatch what would have been the winning goal, but she too failed to connect and the ball crossed the bar for a point.

It was that close but the reality was somewhat different. Memories of the first act of the Meath Dublin saga of 1991 came rushing back. Only this time Ballymore held on to win.

Like any new pretender to a crown, doubts began to surface about their abilities within sight of the prize. St Helens knew as much and laid siege to the challengers. But the steep deficit they had to overcome eventually proved to be too steep.

A rather uneventful first half came to life in the final 7 minutes. By this stage Ballymore led by 3 points to two. St Helens though, were soon on terms with an Amanda Cullen effort.

With wind advantage in the second half, the omens looked good for the champions. Ballymore had other ideas however. Midfield of Fiona Blessington and Mary Keirnan were excelling and their two points ended the scoring for the half.

What was to develop in even the most astute or optimistic of Ballymore supporters, could not envisage. Ballymore’s major failing in the first half was the number of chances they spurned, seven wides in all and a variety of ball that fell short. But in the opening 11 minutes the side scored seven points without reply.

Barbara McElvaney started the rout with a point. Seconds later, Orla Farrell, a half time substitute for Fay Keirnan scored. A further five points in as many minutes; Blessington and Keirnan grabbing a two apiece, the other scored by Marie Drake, left it all very academic – or so we thought.

It’s in such situations that team’s look for a lifeline, any lifeline. It came and its effects were equally ad devastating as that of the Balymore scoring blitz. Emma Cooney’s goal, a long ball from 40 that dropped into the net on 44 minutes was such an effort.

And when Hannify and Lorraine Gallagher added points in quick succession, the wheel of fortunate, it seemed had turned full circle. Four points separated the sides, but the Ballymore hold on the title had been loosened considerably. Experience and will were now to decide this match. The tension increased and with it the St Helens danger. Slowly, ultimately too slowly, the side reduced the arrears. An Emma Cooney point hopped over the bar, despite the desperate efforts of Michelle Hannify to fist for a goal. It was an omen for things to come.

But no to take away from the side, they produced many of the aces on the evening. In defence, Anita McNerney and Sharon Clarke excelled as did Barbara McElvanney and midfield dominated for long periods. In attack Marie Draek always looked dangerous.

St Helens, too had their performers in Nicola Cauley, Amanda Cullen, Michelle Hannify, Evelyn Griffin and Emma Cooney. Their crow may have been lost but reputations remained intact.


Carmel Kearney, Anita McNerney, Sharon Clarke, Aine O’Neill, Carmel McElvanney, Barbara McElvanney (0-1), Irene Kiernan, Breege Reilly, Marie Drake (0-1).

Subs: Orla Farrell (0-1) for F Kiernan (h/t)

St Helens:

Christina Jordan, Bronagh Clarke, Michelle Walsh, Martina Edgeworth, Nicola Cauley, Mary Curran, Pauline Duffy, Amanda Cullen (0-1), Michelle Hannify (0-2), Michelle McGee, Evelyn Griffin (0-1), Emma Cooney (1-1), Lorraine Gallagher (0-1), Dara Gill (0-1), Sharon McKeown (0-1).

Subs: Lisa Brady for M Curran (h/t), Orla McNally for B Clarke (51 mins).

Referee: Joe Rooney (Rathcline)

Ladies GAA Club News


Next Sunday is D Day for our senior team when they contest the senior championship final against St Helens of Drumlish and Rathcline amalgamation. An intriguing game is in prospect when you consider so many players lining out who have been part of the Longford County panel, having contested the All Ireland junior final in Croke Park and winning the All Ireland B title. Our team have put in a lot of work so it would be only fair that all supporters both young and old come out and let their vocal support be heard. The match is timed for 2.30 pm in Pearse Park.


Our senior B final takes place on Sunday in Pearse Park against Clonguish. All players are requested to be in the dressing room 30 minutes before the game. Best wishes to Laura Doherty who is hospitalised at the moment. We wish her a speedy recovery.

AIB All Ireland Junior Championship Final

History will be made on Sunday next when Longford’s ladies football team take the field at Croke Park to compete against Clare in the All Ireland Junior Final. It’s not too often that Longford can be said to be on the verge of celebrating an All Ireland title, but the form shown by the team this year gives rise to great confidence in the county. The big game is previewed by Declan Fahy while John Greene talks to team trainer Martin Reilly and team captain Mary Kiernan.

First Leinster, next Ireland for Longford Ladies

So far, so outstanding for the Longford ladies junior football team. After becoming Leinster champions at the end of July, their quarter final and semi final opponents were dismissed as the side marched on. Now the country’s greatest GAA stage, Croke Park, awaits them as they play Clare on Sunday next for the biggest prize in Gaelic Games – the All Ireland title.

It is extremely rare to see a Longford side at any level playing in an All Ireland final. In the recent past, Longford has performed exceptionally well and has gained national recognition in athletics, swimming and basketball, while the county’s Gaelic performances have been, to say the least, disappointing.

But this year Longford has produced a team that has the right combination of determination and dedication, skill and style, leadership and ability to go all the way.

It has been quite some year for the Longford ladies junior team. Their season began early in the year when they played in the National league. Offaly were their first opponents and like many who suffered similar fates, were beaten by Longford. After this, Longford had wins over Galway, Roscommon and Limerick.

Longford’s only defeat came at the hand of Wicklow. This left Wicklow and Longford joint top of the league. In the National League quarter final, Longford had a comprehensive win over Cavan, 8-16 to 2-6.

The side’s championship run which will end in Dublin, also started in Dublin. Longford’s first round game was away to Dublin and Longford were the victors after a closely fought contest.

Wexford were their opponents in the Leinster semi final. Longford were minutes away from bowing out of the championship, when a late equaliser from Una Flynn sent the game into extra time. In the end, Longford won by 5 points.

The Leinster final was played in Carlow and Louth were the opposition. Longford outplayed Louth for the while game, their tidier passing movements, powerful runs from midfield and sharp finishing was too much for Louth. Longford, the county with only five ladies sides registered, were deservedly crowned Leinster champions.

The all round quality and skill of the side was shown in the All Ireland quarter final when they mercilessly took apart a London side who weren’t in the same class as Longford. The 4-18 to 0-0 scoreline says it all.

However, things weren’t so easy in the All Ireland semi final against Sligo. They conceded two goals early in the first half and were under great pressure for a time. But once again, their determination and class showed through as Longford turned on the style in the second half, making a good Sligo side look distinctly average.

Worthy All Ireland Finalists

As everyone knows, it’s not easy to get to an All Ireland final. The team must be totally confident and must believe in its own abilities – and the Longford side has no shortage of ability. The side isn’t carrying any players, there isn’t anyone playing just to fill up the numbers, all 15 players contribute to the team.

The team to their credit, always plays attacking football. The game is always taken to the opposition. Even when the result was in no doubt against Sligo, Longford continued to attack and scored four more points before the game ended.

The attacking football plays to the team’s strengths. The backs, while performing well in their role of defenders, are quick to turn defence into attack. Particularly effective in positions are half backs Laura Doherty, Sheila Farrell, Barbara McElvaney. In the centre half back position, McElvaney holds the line and steadies the defence well. Jennifer Hennessy is particularly good in these positions, but she started as right half forward in the semi final and may start Sunday’s game at corner forward.

The full back line of Josephine Donlon, Katriona Donlon and Irene Kiernan is solid. They were caught on the hop by the Sligo full forwards in the first half of the semi final. After this, however, they tightened up and didn’t give Sligo any chances in the second half.

Goalkeeper Corina Mulvihill is dependable and has saved the side on a number of occasions. Her range from kickouts is also invaluable.

The entire backline tackles and tidies well. In the second half of their semi final, Sligo had many chances on goal, but were snuffed out by the Longford defence. Provided they tighten up early and not let Clare get any early scores, the backs could control this vital area of the field.

Longford’s main playmakers are the midfielders Michelle Hannify and Fiona Blessington. When given the space both can make powerful attacking runs from midfield. This coupled with the excellent off the ball movement up front, has left many opposing defences in disarray.

Hannify and Blessington’s distribution is first rate and both can defend well, as well as supporting the defence. Also, when Emma Cooney came on as substitute in the semi final to play in midfield, she performed admirably and capably in her role.

Captain Mary Kiernan started the semi final at full forward, but she was brought out to centre half forward where she operated as a third midfielder.

She looked more comfortable in this role as she won more possession and it suits here strengths; ball winning, support play, distribution and long range shooting.

Longford’s forwards have improved greatly and have learned to support each other and to take their scores when the opportunity presents itself. In all of their games, they caused enormous problems for the opposing backs.

They link up well with each other and there is almost always a player in support. Their off the ball movement gives the midfielders the option of running through or laying the ball off and has led to many scores in past games.

In addition, the forwards can and have taken their scores with skill and confidence. Even when losing in the first half against Sligo, they chipped away the deficit, firing over point after point.

Mary Burke has made valuable contributions in the Leinster final and in the semi final. Her keen positional sense leaves her in the right scoring position and importantly, she keeps her head to put the ball over when the side is under pressure.

Influential vice-captain Dara Gill missed the All Ireland semi final with a broken collar bone but should be back in action for the final to bring the increased strength and depth to the side. Her position in the semi final was taken by the reliable Jennifer Hennessy, who can play in any position.

With Hennessy, in the full-forward line, will be Una Flynn and Paula Kenny, two players who do exactly wheat they’re supposed to do – they take scores. Una Flynn bailed Longford out when she forced the game into extra time in the Leinster semi final. Her two goals also sealed Sligo’s fate in the All Ireland semi final. Paula Kenny too proved her worth as she proved a handful for the Sligo backs, chipping in with three points.

This team has so many strong points and so many dangerous players all functioning together as a unit that Clare will have a formidable task of beating them. That is if they can beat them. It’s very hard to defend against a team that can attack from anywhere. And if Clare are on the offensive, they will be wary of how quick and lethal Longford are on the counter attack.

The Longford brand of exciting flowing football, neat passing, powerful running, excellent support play and fine finishing has received its due reward, a place in the All Ireland final. They are one of the top two ladies junior teams in the country. And the whole county hopes that Longford, the Leinster champions, will have the perfect end to their exceptional season.

This is not the end of it

By John Greene

Having led her club, Ballymore to senior championship success, , Mary Kiernan now captains her county on the greatest stage and the greatest occasion there is in gaelic football – Croke Park on All Ireland final day.

“I’m looking forward to the big occasion”, she told The Leader at training last week. “Its an ambition fulfilled and I didn’t think I’d fulfil it this quick. The next thing would be to win an All Ireland final”.

“It was a honour to be captain. They are a great bunch of girls – any words of encouragement you have, they are there to listen. I never enjoyed such a year playing football”.

With the benefit of hindsight, Mary says she did not look too far ahead when they started training last February. Getting to, and then winning, the Leinster final was a great achievement, and it was then that she really believed for the first time that this team could get to an All Ireland final.

But this has been no more than Longford deserved. Since last February, there have been some long nights in training. “Since we won the Leinster final, we have had some hard, good training sessions”.

Mary’s versatility has been one of the key aspects of the campaign. She started the year at full back, moving to full forward for the semi final win over Sligo, and on Sunday she will start on the ‘forty’.

Big day and all as it will be, Mary says she is not usually the nervous type before games. “I try to ignore the crowds and concentrate on the game. I was nervous for the semi final but that was because of the home crowd”.

Her senior championship medal with Ballymore was her third in her playing career, not bad for someone aged 20, having won a ‘B’ medal with Abbeylara and an ‘A’ Championship with a Granard/Abbeylara combination.

Mary who is a student of Electronic Engineering at Kevin Street in Dublin, is looking forward to Sunday. The build up has been gathering pace all week and come the big day, there will be great excitement.

She and her team mates are fully focused on the job at hand and she agrees that because the team is so young, this could be the start of a golden era for ladies football in the county. “This is not the end of it”, she warns.

Ladies Junior All Ireland semi final

Croke Park awaits Longford ladies

Longford 3-15 Sligo 2-8

Until midway through to second half, this was a tense tight and exciting game with both sides playing confident flowing football. Then two goals by Una Flynn and confident point taking by Longford saw them overwhelm Sligo in the All Ireland semi final in Granard last Saturday. They now face Clare in the All Ireland final in Croke Park at the end of the month.

The game opened at an extremely fast pace which never let up until the final whistle. Paula Kenny opened the scoring with a point. This was followed by two frees by Fiona Blessington, leaving Longford with a good early lead.

Longford looked strong running through the centre with Blessington and Michelle Hannify both breaking through the centre.

The Sligo corner forwards caused severe problems for Longford in the first half. They played very deep, leaving lots of space in the forward line, and then cutting inside when they had possession. Corner forward, Siobhan Stensen, who was Sligo’s most dangerous players, poached an early goal when a high ball was misjudged by the Longford defence, letting Stensen inside to shoot left footed past Catriona Mulvihill.

Longford were lucky not to concede another minutes later when Cathleen Kane hit the bar with a good shot on the turn. Longford weren’t so lucky soon after this when Stensen grabbed her, and Sligo’s second. This time she took the ball near the left corner, cut inside and her shot from a tight angle hit the top corner.

After these two goals, Longford could have crumbled but they kept their heads and stopped up the pace in attacking the Sligo defence. They grabbed their first goal after 21 minutes when corner forward Una Flynn passed to Michelle Hannify who broke from midfield. Her shot from 14 yards flew across the square and into the far corner.

Following this goal, Longford could have kept going for a goal to try to finish the game, but they took the more intelligent option of putting the ball over the bar after each attack. Indeed, they were very dangerous on attack and looked like scoring with all their attacks.

The forwards were lively with plenty off the ball running. They gave the runners from midfield the space to run into and an option to pass. Una Flynn was excellent and Mary Burke contributed three neat points.

The first half saw both sides playing excellent football. Towards the end of the first half, Longford began to show that they were an all round superior side. While Sligo relied on their full forward line, all of Longford’s forwards were sharp and the Sligo midfield couldn’t contain the runs of midfielders, Michelle Hannify and Fiona Blessington.

The half ended with Longford gaining the upper hand. They led at the break by two points, 1-8 to 2-3. At the start of the second half, Sligo had another goal chance. Sligo’s Eileen McCormack was put through but her shot, which would have surely hit the target, was blocked down brilliantly by full back Catriona Donlon.

Longford started the second half better than they started the first. Bringing Mary Kiernan out to midfield from her starting position at full forward gave more strength and depth to the side., It also ensured there would be more supply to the forwards.

The backline tightened up after their poor opening. The half back line of Laura Doherty, Barbara McElvaney and Sheila Farrell were very effective in supporting the midfield and initiating many Longford attacks. Laura Doherty in particular had a fine game at right half back.

After 12 minutes of the second half, Una Flynn scored her first to put Longford in a commanding position. This time Michelle Hannify was the provider to Una Flynn when Hannify’s shot bounced in front of the keeper and was flicked in by Flynn.

Sligo came back and could have scored when there was a huge goalmouth scramble when Sligo had four chances to score, but the tenacious Longford defence didn’t allow them to get a shot in.

But at this stage, Longford were running rampant. They pulled further away with their third goal. Mary Kiernan gathered the ball on the 21 yard line. She went for a chip which rebounded off the crossbar and Una Flynn caught it and fired past Denise Clarke from the edge of the square.

The game was over and Longford were undoubtedly on their way to the final, but they didn’t let up and put over four more points before the final whistle. The forwards weren’t given all the glory, however, as in the last five minutes, Longford’s ‘keeper’ Corina Mulvihill saved Lorraine Sheridan’s penalty.

Sligo were a good side, but Longford showed their class and excellent ability to take them apart in the second half. Their formidable and impressive championship campaign continues and this superb semi final display will give them great confidence for the final in Croke Park.


Corina Mulvihill, Josephine Donlon, Catriona Donlon, Irene Kiernan, Laura Doherty, Barbara McElvanney, Sheila Farrell, Michelle Hannify (1-1), Fiona Blessington (0-7), Paula Harkins, Mary Burke (0-3), Jennifer Hennessy, Paula Kenny (0-3), Mary Kiernan, Una Flynn (2-1).

Subs used: Emma Cooney, Geraldine Hanley.


Denise Clarke, Clare Casserly, Angela Cummins, Catherine Malley, Angela Doohan, Edel Kane (capt), Josephine Phillips, Lorraine Sheridan (0-1), Colette McDonagh, Sandra Rowley, Christina Johnston, Eileen McCormack, Cathleen Kane (0-1), Eileen O’Grady (0-1), Siobhan Stensen (2-3).

Subs used: Deirdre McKeon (0-2), Mary Kilgannon, Angela Gallagher, Deirdre Waters.

AIB Ladies All Ireland Junior Final

Heartbreak for brave Longford

Second half surge not enough as Clare scrape home

Clare 5-9 Longford 4-9

The dream of all Ireland glory ended in tears in Croke Park last Sunday and no words spoken or written can console this Longford team. Players, subs, mentors and supporters all knew as soon as John O’Keeffe blew the final whistle that Longford were every bit serving of success as Clare were, making defeat even harder to take.

Nothing needed to be said, but beneath the Hogan Stand afterwards, as the players made their way back to the dressing room, we all knew – this could have been the day. The players shook their heads at family and friends, they knew it too.

“We didn’t click” said one of Longford’s heroines afterwards, a feeling shared by all her team mates and a feeling that is a very harsh reflection on one of the bravest performances witnessed in Croke Park in many a long year. Nor is it consolation to this panel of players that they were part of one of the most thrilling games played in headquarters this year, second only perhaps to the drawn senior final between Laois and Monaghan, which followed.

The see-saw nature of the second half in particular, will long be remembered. Trailing by 7 points at the break and preparing to face a wickedly strong breeze, Longford looked dead and buried But on the stroke of half time, Majella Griffin converted a free and Annie Ryan hit the crossbar, as did Longford’s Mary Burke seconds later.

Longford had started the game as the better team, and after an early Clare wide, a superb point by Fiona Blessington in the first minute was a great boost. But within minutes, Clare twice had the ball in the Longford net.

With the score of 5-8 to 3-9 and time fast running out, Longford launched one last assault on the Clare goal. Sub, Paula Harkins, with almost her first touch, earned her side a penalty which was brilliantly converted by Barbara McElvaney and gain Longford were back in it. But five seconds into injury time, Morrissey capped a fine individual display with a killer point and moments later it was all over.

At the sound of the final whistle, Longford’s players collapsed to the ground in despair, picking themselves up to applaud Clare captain Majella Griffin when she received the John Timmons Cup.

Longford Leader – Friday 11 October 1996

Champion welcome for Longford’s First Ladies

Emotions run high in Croke Park

Hundreds of people were in Edgeworthstown on Monday night to welcome home the county’s ladies footballers. And even though they were piped by three points by Clare in a thrilling All Ireland Junior final the day previous, the players and mentors received a champions welcome and how deserving it was.

They were greeted just outside the town and escorted by supporters of the team, and amid huge cheers, the squad could scarcely hide their emotions. The reception in the Park House Hotel will never be forgotten in this county as players and mentors were accorded a great welcome. Each person involved with the team was presented with a trophy as a memento of an unforgettably year by Frank Kilbride of the Park House.

This was the Longford’s way of saying ‘well done’ to a marvellous set of players who have given their all for the last nine months. The bitter disappointment of Sunday’s defeat was still etched on many faces, but make no mistake – they’ll be back!.

Ladies football has remained largely unknown to football enthusiasts in this county and has actually struggled to maintain any kind of foothold. On more tan one occasion its existence has been threatened but now thanks to the sheet dedication of a group of players and some hard work behind the scenes, oldies football has been assured of a future in this county.

And what a future it promises to be. Eleven of the current team are under the age of 16, while the oldest player to start last Sunday was 22 year old Drumlish woman, Michelle Hannify. Incidentally, Michelle scored a 1-3 in the final and turned in a performance which deservedly earned her the ‘Player of the Match award.

To reach an All Ireland final with only six registered clubs in the county, and to come so close to defeating a team as steeped in tradition as Clare is, can be ranked as an unbelievable achievement. Expect an explosion of interest in ladies football now, and don’t doubt but that this team will be back.

For the large contingent of Longford persons who made the unaccustomed journey to Crok Park, it was a proud day. Not since 1937 has a county team competed in an All Ireland final, and more than one Longford throat had a lump in it as the team emerged from beneath the Hogan Stand to a chorus of cheers.

For some Longford supporters it was their first time to witness a game of ladies football, and they will have been pleasantly surprised by the high level of skill and commitment shown on the day. There was more of what gaelic football is supposed to be about in this game than in the two games between Meath and Mayo in the senior men’s All Ireland in the weeks previous.

The final score in the AIB Ladies Junior All Ireland final was Clare 5-9, Longford 4-9.

All hail the Ladies!

All Ireland Ladies Junior Football final

Clare 5-9 Longford 4-9

If ever a team enhanced their reputation in defeat, then this surely was it. The so-called back-woods sport of ladies football won over a committed following in Longford following his marvellous performance.

The disappointment was huge, etched on the faces of the Longford team who sobbed and sank their heads in grief Their grief was acute.


Yet in the days and months to come, the Longford squad will view their grief not as an end in itself, but rather as the beginning of greatness. For if the girls believe in themselves (and on the evidence of Sunday, rest assured they do), then those tears of disappointment will translate to tears of joy very soon.

It was an absorbing final, full of drama, commitment and passion, all within the full remit of what we call true sporting endeavour.


There were some great scores, great individual performances, ability shown to rise above the disastrous and the difficult, in short, it was a patchwork on life itself.

It would be churlish to deny Clare the true merits of their victory. Their greater experience was all too evident at time. In short, the team just looked more streetwise when it came to this big occasion and had the unhappy knack (from a Longford point of view) to grab at crucial times, disaster.

Despite scoring the opening point, the game began disastrously for Longford. Within a three minute spell in the opening six minutes, Longford had conceded two goals. The first of those goals came from Claire Daly, a speculative effort that went over the head of keeper Karine Mulvihill. For the Lanesboro lass, it appeared a nightmare. That nightmare became reality three minutes later when another error of judgement saw Majella Griffin’s effort find the net in almost similar circumstances.

Seemed lost

For the horde of Longford supporters, all seemed lost, but the team thought otherwise. The side collectively rolled up their sleeves and in an eight minute spell, had contrived to equalise. The revival began entering the second quarter with a point from Michelle Hannify, who went on to epitomise Longford’s fighting spirit.

Then followed the lifeline Longford really needed. A long free from Mary Kie5rnan, who by now was really rallying her troops with her performance, was fisted into the net by Jennifer Hennessy.

Repetitive Pattern

A further two points from Hannify and Kiernan levelled matters but ominously Clare battled back. It was a patter that was to repeat itself thereafter. With five minutes remaining came another Clare goal, this time from Nollaig Griffin and with a name like that, she bestowed a lot of gifts to her forward colleagues.

But tragically it was a gift of a different kind that let Griffin in for her second goal and Clare’s fourth. Another speculative long ball was dropped into the danger rea by Miriam Flynn.


All appeared under control but perhaps taking her eye off the ball for a split second, Karina Mulvihill let the ball slip from her grasp and the number 15 did the rest, lashing the loose ball to the net.

It was body blow for Longford, coming as it did on the stroke of half time. Only but the most eternal of optimists could see a Longford victory now.

Having forfeited a strong breeze in their favour for the second half, it looked gloomy, trailing 4-3 to 1-5 at the break. Yet all was not lost, in fact all had to be won, as the team set about to demonstrate.


Arguably, the positioning of substitute Emma Cooney with Mary Kiernan at midfield negated the influence of Clare’s Morrissey and Ryan. Twice in the opening six minutes, Longford have live opportunities of goals. But unlike their opponents in the first half they failed to take them. Instead both Michelle Hannify and Paula Kenny had to settle for points. It was agonising stuff, not for those of a nervous disposition for Clare soon responded with a goal and a point of their own.


It was now backs against the wall stuff for Longford. But they stubbornly refused to be summoned to the death by the Clare firing squad. In a three minute spell, between 39 and 42 minutes of play, Longford enjoyed their most ‘goal-den’ (if you’ll pardon the pun) of patches.

First there was the outstanding Michelle Hannify who jived and jinxed past the beleaguered Longford cover to slot home a goal from close range.

Fortune Favours

Then for once, fortune favoured Longford for their second goal, and third in all, of this period; a Mary Kiernan free hitting the upright before Dara Gill gathered the loose ball to fire to the net from a difficult angle. Now buoyant, Longford went in search of winning the game as they trailed now by only a single point, 3-8 to Clare’s 5-4. But in pursuit of their prey, perhaps Longford lost their shape a little.

Whatever it was, Clare kept their cool and responded in decisive fashion; Claire Daly grabbing half of their four point total which subsequently proved to be enough. To make sure, Eithne Morrissey added a point at the death.

Weren’t finished

Yet Longford weren’t finished yet, with four minutes remaining, substitute Paula Harkins was pulled down in the square by Clare keeper Ann Frawley. A penalty ensued and from it Babs McElvanney rattled the net with a fierce drive, low and hard to the left corner – Trevor Giles, how are ye!

The goal perhaps symbolised Longford’s never say die attitude and the impact they made on all neutrals at Croke Park. What a performance, what a match, the minor shame was the result.


Karina Mulvihill (Rathcline), Josephine Donlon (Rathcliffe), Katherine Donlon (Rathcline), Irene Kiernan (Ballymore), Laura Doherty (Killoe), Barbara McElvanney (Ballymore 1-0,pen), Sheila Farrell (Rathcline), Fiona Blessington (Ballymore, 0-1), Michelle Hannify (St Helens 1-3), Mary Burke (Clonguish), Mary Kiernan (Ballymore, capt, 0-1), Dara Gill (St Helens 1-2), Jennifer Hennessy (Killoe 1-0), Paula Kenny (Rathcline 0-1), Una Flynn (Clonguish 0-1).

Subs: Emma Cooney (St Helens) for J Donlon h/t, Michelle Smith (Ballymore) for J Hennessy 48 mins, Geraldine Hanley (Rathcline) for I Kiernan, Paula Harkins (Ballymore) for P Kenny (both 25 mins)


Ann Frawley, Brid Aherne, Mairead Madigan, Jennifer Keane, Suzanne Whelan, Lorraine Sheedy, Elaine Griffin, Eithne Morrissey (0-1), Annie Ryan (0-1), Brid Keane (0-1), Majella Griffin (2-3, 0-3 frees), Ann McInerney, Claire Daly (1-1), Miriam Flynn (0-1), Nollaig Griffin (2-1).

Subs¨Tammy Hehir for A McInerney (26 mins), Niamh Chambers for E Griffin (44 mins), Orla Fitzgerald for Aherne (48 mins).

Referee: John O’Keeffe (Cork).

An Invitation to remember

In a sporting context you can buy experience but you cannot buy style. And despite the very disappointing end to Sunday’s All Ireland final, Longford have stacked up a lot of experience for the year’s ahead.

Superlatives are almost made redundant when describing Longford’s performance on Sunday. They provided so much to a game but was Junior only in name. Experience is vital in any sport and that was made crystal clear from the very outset of Sunday’s game. After all, the Clare side had the decisive advantage of being ‘there’ on two occasions and ‘done’ that, once in 1991.

For a team with an average age of 18 years to compete at Croke Park for the first time and compete so well is nothing short of remarkable. Even more remarkable was the Longford side’s ability to overcome such adversity as they did in the opening stages. The team were nervous at the start – and it showed.

Karina Mulvihill, luckless on Sunday, recovered from the concession of our first half goals, three of them the result of unforced errors. Clare, perhaps relishing their opponent’s unease and general awe of this big occasion, took full advantage. The concerns surrounding blonde bombshell Eithne Morrissey were well founded.

An overview of the game will tell a number of startling truths. Longford never took the lead in this game and though they played the better football of the contest, were always playing catch up.

The closest Martin Reilly’s ladies got to the Clare side was to level, seven minutes from the end of the half. Even then parity extended for a brief two minute period. Critically, inexperience, perhaps even a shade of panic raised its head at the start of the second half. In the space of a minute, Michelle Hannify, perhaps in two minds, shot too high and over the bar with the goal at her mercy.

Seconds later, after Fiona Blessington had struck the crossbar, Paula Kenny also struck too high from the same range. In the end, both were chances that could have swung the contest. In the end though, the Longford side gave their all. At the end, tears were shed, so emotionally drained were the players. No-one could have asked for anything more from the team.

Stars abounded on this Longford team. Few shone as brightly as Michelle Hannify. Sporting a distinctively coloured bandanna, Hannify was a revelation throughout. Leader of her side, Mary Kiernan was perhaps seen to her best effect throughout the campaign last Sunday, particularly in the second half when she went to midfield.

Despite defensive frailties rearing their head at the outset yet again, the team ironed out their difficulties with haste. Katherine Donlon, moved from the right corer to the right wing for the second half, did well.

Babs McElvanney traced full forward Miriam Flynn wherever she went, ensuring the Clare target-woman got little joy during the afternoon. In attack, the team rarely looked short-changed.

Seven wides in an All Ireland final was a frugal tally to amass. Mary Burke, though often playing better games, worked very well and one of her first half efforts hit the crossbar, midway through the first half.

Beside her (aside from the aforementioned Kiernan), Dara Gill was a revelation scoring one very good first half point and an equally clever point. The full forward line, particularly Una Flynn also did well, but a facet of the side’s play was a predictability when shooting on goal, this transmitted itself in the number of attacks blocked by the Clare defence.

Can the side go one better in future year? Of course they can. With an average age of 18 years, the team have sampled the pressures of an All Ireland final and should be able to adapt accordingly in the future.

The boost given to the game within the county has been immeasurable and if Sunday was any yardstick, then the decibel level (both sets of supporters shared the same colours) indicated Longford supporters were well in the majority.

Even a sceptic like myself has been pleasantly surprised by the standard of play and surely the lessons of Sunday will be that the game gets all the recognition it deserves. Powers that be in the GAA, are you listening?!

Nothing succeeds like success but the events of Sunday went mightly close. Rather than the end of the beginning, Sunday marks the beginning of an end to false beginnings within the sport in Longford.

Reilly look ahead

It was a downcast, if not totally dispirited Martin Reilly who emerged from the Longford dressing rooms following Sunday’s All Ireland Junior Final.

“Nerves made a big difference in the end, but the goal before half time proved to be a killer”, said O’Reilly conveying the impression that from thereon in, it was going to be an uphill struggle.

Describing the support for the team as “magnificent” was optimistic about the future of the team, saying “we’ve started from scratch and there are more players in the county and also others that are Dublin based that we can pick on in the future”.

Other than that, the manager wasn’t looking too far ahead. “We’ll take a few days break before we go back for training for the Tyrone match in the League semi-finals”.

Fulsome of his praise for his team, Reilly also lauded the Clare team. “We knew about that Morrissey girl, she’s very strong and she showed it. Though our own forwards took their chances, they never really clicked on the day”.

It was that sort of frustrating day for O’Reilly and his squad, a great day, but it could have been so much greater. Yes disappointment, yet far from desolation.

The Longford Leader Friday 6 December 1996

Ladies All Ireland ‘B’ Football Championship Final

Ladies complete first leg of the All Ireland ‘B’ Double

Longford 3-14 Down 0-5

The Longford ladies football squad gained consolation for their most unlucky defeat by Clare in the All Ireland Junior Football final at Croke Park back in early October when they proved far too strong for Down in the ‘B’ final at the Monaghan venue of Scotstown on Saturday last and it was all over as a contest at half time, at which stage they had built up a very commanding 3-7 to 0-1 lead.

It was a magnificent display by Longford, who were superior in virtually every position on the field and this historic first ever national title was just reward for team manager Martin Reilly and his fellow selectors Peter Donlon, Liam Forde and Christina Jordan for all the trojan work they have done this year in making thee county a real force to be reckoned with in ladies football.

The female footballers have certainly showed their male counterparts the day and jubilant captain Mary Kiernan, on receiving the ‘B’ Championship trophy after the game, hoped that the All Ireland double would be completed in wishing the county the very best of luck against Fermanagh in the final replay at Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday next.

Kiernan had an outstanding game at full back while Barbara McElvanney and Sheila Farrell were also most impressive in a rock solid defence that gave very little away – reflected in the fact that Down failed to register a score from play throughout the game. However, the best player on view was unquestionably Longford midfielder Fiona Blessington – who scored a total of five points from play (plus another form a free) and was forever in the thick of the action.

Most dangerous in attack were Michelle Hannify (sister of county footballer Colin Hannify), Dara Gill and Josephine Donlon, who inflicted the bulk of the damage in that they registered three goals and four points between them, while Mary Burke was also much to the fore up front – despite the fact that she was the only Longford forward who failed to get her name on the scoresheet.

It was sweet revenge, in way, for the crushing defeat the county footballers suffered against Down in the National league game at Pearse Park the previous Sunday and Eamon Coleman now has a very tough act to follow. Had he been in Scotstown on Saturday last, he could only but admire the marvellous teamwork of this talented young Longford team and the majority of their scores were excellent efforts.

Blessington points the way

The ‘blue and gold’ got off to a great start with a well taken point by Fiona Blessington in the opening minute of the game and the Ballymore lass was on target again a few minutes later as Longford dominated the early exchanges. Further points from Una Flynn and Josephine Donlon followed and they then scored their opening goal to lead by 1-4 to 0-0 with just ten minutes gone on the clock.

Josephine Donlon shot to the net, after receiving the ball from Fiona Blessington with Michelle Hannify also involved in the well worked move, and following a couple of near misses, Longford scored goal no 2 in the 16th minute when powerful centre half forward Dara Gill hit the target after bursting her way through the Down defence.

The Ulster side then notched their opening score of the game when Martina McCafferty converted a free in the 20th minute but Longford quickly regained the upper hand and replied with three further points – two from Paula Kenny and the other from Fiona Blessington.

Two minutes into injury time, they were then awarded a penalty when Paula Kenny was fouled in the square and while Barbara McElvanney blasted the resultant kick wide. Longford made amends moments later when Michelle Hannify scored goal no 3 after receiving a great ball from Mary Burke, which split the Down defence wide open.

Those decisive goals in the very one-sided first half were all brilliantly taken and with Longford 3-7 to 0-1 in front at the interval, there was really no way back for Down. The blue and gold continued to pile on the pressure in the second half with further points from Dara Gill, Josephine Donlon, Fiona Blessington, Michelle Hannify and Emma Cooney before Blessington converted a free (taken from the hand) and this wonderful player had the distinction of notching Longford’s final score of the game in the 45th minute.

Moments earlier, Jennifer Hennessey and Eilish Rhatigan were brought on and three more substitutes were introduced in the 50th minute as Longford eased up considerably in the final quarter in letting Down back to score four consolation points – all from frees.

They actually played the last ten minutes of the game with a player less after Michelle Hannify was forced to retire inured (with all the allowed five subs used) but it made little difference. In fact, Mary Burke should have scored a fourth goal in injury timer when she raced clean through, only to have her point blank shot very well saved by the Down keeper.

Leinster junior champions and now the All Ireland ‘B’ title represents a marvellous year for the Longford ladies, who have done the county really proud, and hopes are high that Martin Reilly’s squad will go one better by winning the coveted All Ireland junior crown in 1997.


Karina Mulvihill (Rathcline), Katherina Donlon (Rathcline), Mary Kiernan (Ballymore, capt), Irene Kiernan (Ballymore), Laura Doherty (Killoe), Barbara McElvanney (Ballymore), Sheila Farrell (Rathcline), Fiona Blessington (Ballymore 0-6, five from play), Emma Cooney (St Helens 0-1), Michelle Hannify (St Helens 1-1), Dara Gill (St Helens 1-1), Mary burke (Clonguish), Paula Kenny (Rathcline 0-2), Josephine Donlon (Rathcline 1-2), Una Flynn (Clonguish 0-1).

Subs: Jennifer Hennessy (Killoe) for U Flynn, Eilish Rhatigan (St Helens) for P Kenny, both in the 44th minute), Paula Harkins (Ballymore) for J Donlon, Michelle Smith (Ballymore) for K Donlon (all in the 50th minute).


Helen Rice, Jackie Clarke, Elaine McCourt, Teresa Fearon, Maeve McNeill, Ciara McNaughton, Jackie O’Reilly, Michaela Downey (0-2, both frees), Maura McCabe, Paula Millar, Martina McCafferty (0-3), all frees, Ann Marie Ward, Marianna Devlin, Eleanor McAnulty, Michelle Fearon,

Subs used: Bronagh Maguire, Mary Fitzpatrick, Mairead Gavan, Aoibheane Downey, Lisa Toman.

Referee: Christy Haughney (Carlow)

Footnote: The All Ireland ‘B’ Championship Cup is dedicated to the memory of the late Mary Quinn, the Aughawillan woman who was heavily involved in Leitrim Ladies football. Her daughter, Mary Fox, a former Leitrim player, presented the trophy to Longford captain Mary Kiernan.

Large attendance at Ladies GAA Convention

The county convention of the Longford ladies GAA was held in Longford Slashers Complex on Thursday 13th February. The convention attracted its largest attendance to date with all clubs represented.

Another very pleasing feature of the convention was the very large number of players who attended, most of whom contributed to a very interesting and lively night of discussion on the many important issues, which came before the meeting.

A very proud outgoing chairman, Liam Forde, recalled a year of unrivalled success for ladies football in Longford. He citied the winning of the Leinster Championship, the subsequent outstanding performance in the All Ireland final and the winning of the ‘B’ All Ireland as the highlights in a most memorable year. He thanked all who were associated with this success, particularly the very dedicated players, team manager, Martin Reilly and his co-selectors Peter Donlon and Christina Jordan, team sponsor, Frank Kilbride, the clubs who made great efforts fundraising Longford’s Men’s GAA Board and the many other business people who made donations.

Continuing he thanked the County Board for the use of Pearse Park, the other clubs and especially Killoe Young Emmets , on whose pitches the county team did most of its training.

In her secretary’s report, Christina Jordan gave a very detailed account of all matches played, both at inter-county and club level. Wearing her second hat – that of active treasurer – Christina presented an equally detailed and impressive financial statement, which met with the satisfaction of all present and showed the board to be in a reasonably healthy financial position.

The election of officers was the next item on the agenda and despite the success on the field there was no rush for positions. Outgoing chairman, Liam Forde (St Helens), after some pressure agreed to stay on for another year. Peter Donlon (Rathcline) took over as vice-chair from Martin Reilly, who did not seek re-election. Long servicing secretary Christine Jordan (St Helens) stepped down and was the subject of much praise for the enormous and unstinting contribution she mad made to ladies football over a long period of years. Inter-county star Mary Burke (Clonguish) agreed to take over as secretary with follow county player Eilish Rhatigan (Rathcline) taking over the role of assistant. The position of treasurer was jointly shared by Mary McNerney (Ballymore) and Marion Lynch (Killoe). John Doherty (Killoe) agreed to double as Irish Officer and PRO with Peter Donlon assistrant with the latter. The two Mary’s Kiernan (Ballymore) and Burke (Clonguish) agreed to share the duties of Development Officer and were also appointed as delegates to Annual Congress. Martin Reilly was appointed as manager to all county teams and given the authority to pick his own selectors.

Motions calling for more regular club football, the completion of all fixtures within the calendar year and for the training of young referees were all passed.

Many delegates expressed grave disappointment at the very negative publicity given to the ladies county finals in the local paper. The fact that a representative of a club was basically a confused situation due to human error beyond the Board’s or player’s control was highlighted on the front page, yet no report of what were two very entertaining games was carried anywhere else on the paper.

We are pleased to note that this has since been acknowledged in a later issue. It was an extremely upbeat meeting with everybody looking forward to the new season with a high degree of confidence and enthusiasm. The first item on this year’s calendar is the eagerly awaited presentation dinner dance in the Park House Hotel this Friday night 28 February. The Leinster Championship and the All Ireland Senior B Championship medals will be presented on the night. Tickets are £10 and cane be got from any member of the committee.

The full committee for 1997 is as follows:

Chairperson: Liam Forde (St Helens)

Vice-Chairperson: Peter Donlon Rathcline

Secretary: Mary Burke Clonguish

Assistant Secretary: Eilish Rhatigan Rathcline

Joint Treasurers: Mary McNerney Ballymore

Marion Lynch Killoe

PRO/Irish Officer: John Doherty Killoe

Development Officers: Mary Kiernan Ballymore

Mary Burke Clonhguish

Ladies National Junior Football League Final

Longford crowned league champions

Longford 2-9 Roscommon 3-5

Another chapter in the remarkable success story of Longford’s ladies football was unfolded at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe on Sunday last as the County scored a great win over neighbouring rivals Roscommon in the National Junior League final – their first time to win this competition in adding to the All Ireland ‘B’ title triumph last season.

This highly exciting and entertaining game was action-packed right from the throw in and the standard of play reached a very high standard indeed as Longford snatched a historic victory in the final minute of this thrilling contest – substitute Paula Kenny firing over the winning point in preventing a replay.

Ironically, a draw was the outcome when the sides clashed in the earlier stages of the league and there was very little separating the sides again with Longford somewhat fortunate to come out on top. They were under a lot of pressure in the second half as Roscommon piled on the pressure but the Connacht side failed to convert a lot of useful possession into vital scores.

Longford appeared to be coasting to a comfortable victory when they led by 0-5 to 0-1 with just 13 minut5es gone on the clock – team captain Dara Gill showing the way in lading two marvellous points (one free) in the early stages of the game and then Fiona Blessington clicked into top gear with three points (two frees) to her credit.

The Roscommon reply came from a free converted by Bridget Goode but they got right back into the game in the 14th minute with a goal from full-forward Lorraine Connor. The St Faithleachs girls (one of three from the club on the county panel) pulled on the loose ball following a scramble and the ball ended up in the back of the Longford net – deflecting off the post.

A mix up in the Longford half back line allowed Regina Carley race through unchallenged for a second goal in the 20th minute and the ever dangerous Roscommon No 15 found the back of the net again, two minutes later, after playing a net one-two with Cathy McCann.

Longford Goals

Roscommon now led by 5 points, 3-1 to 0-5, and that was the way it remained until the 28th minute when Longford grabbed a goal they so badly needed. A Fiona Blessington free into the goalmouth broke kindly for Mary Kiernan and the full forward blased a cracking shot to the back of the net.

That left Roscommon reeling and they were dealt another sickening blow virtually on the stroke of half time when Longford were awarded a penalty following a foot block on Una Flynn in her attempt to score a goal. Flynn took the kick herself and while it was not a great effort, the ball still ended up in the back of the net.

That left Longford in a rather flattering one point lead (2-5 to 3-1) at the interval but they made a great start to the second half with Dara Gill blasting the ball over the bar with an opportune chance of a goal with just 30 seconds gone on the clock. Another very good point from Mary Kiernan followed soon after but Roscommon hit back with a brace of scores (one apiece from Bridget Goode and Diane Dolan) to leave the minimum of margins separating the sides again.

Longford then had a very luck escape midway through the second half when a quickly taken free by Niamh Fallon found Lorraine Connor completely unmarked inside but she dropped the ball with the goals at her mercy and the danger was cleared.

Shot saved

Moments later, Roscommon full forward Lorraine Connor shot straight at Longford keeper Karina Mulvihill (who performed well in keeping her net intact in the second half) but a point from Diane Donlon left the sides all square again with ten minutes of the game remaining.

After a shot by Mary Kiernan hit the upright, Longford regained the lead with a point from Dara Gill in the 53rd minute and that was the way it remained until the 59th minute when constant Roscommon pressure was eventually rewarded with an equalising point from a free converted at the second attempt by Bridget Goode, after Fiona Blessington had blocked down her first kick – illegally according to the referee who made a few very strange decision during the course of the game.

The game was now in the final minute and Longford launched an immediate counter-attack with Mary Burke setting up Paula Kenny for a brilliantly struck winning point and the blue and gold could afford the luxury of a wide free by Dara Gill moments later as the final whistle blew with the ball in the Roscommon half of the field.

After a shaky first half, the defence improved greatly on the changeover and the introduction of substitute Irene Kiernan, plus the switch of Michelle Hannify to right half back, made a considerable difference.

However, outstanding over the hour at the back was Sheila Farrell, who got good support from Edel McGann and Barbara McElvanney, while Fiona Blessington enjoyed some great spells at centrefield. Up front, Dara Gill played a real captain’s part with a powerful display at centre half forward with full forward Mary Kiernan also playing a prominent role in the attack.


Karina Mulvihill (Cashel, who plays with the Rathcline Club), Kathrina Donlon (Rathcline), Edel McGann (Kenagh, who plays with the Rathcline Club), Josephine Donlon (Rathcline), Barbara mcElvanney (Ballymore), Geraldine Hanley (Rathcline), Fiona Blessington (Ballymore 0-3, 1f), Emma Cooney (St Helens, Drumlish), Jennifer Hennessy (Ballinalee, who plays with the Killoe Club), Dara Gill (St Helens, Drumlish, capt 0-4, 1f), Mary Burke (Clonguish), Mary Kiernan (Ballymore 1-1), Una Flynn (Clonguish 1-0 penalty).

Subs: Irene Kiernan (Ballymore) for G Hanley (half time), Carmel Hennessy (Ballinalee, who plays with the Killoe Club) for J Donlon (half time), Paula Kenny (Rathcline 0-1) for K Donlon (42 mins), Noelle McGann (Kenagh), who played with the Rathcline Club for M Hannify (injured 57 mins).


Carol Manning, Emma Mannion, Ursula Brooks, Mary Beades, Regina Finnegan, Christina O’Malley, Charmaine Cooney, Mary Grehan, Diane Dolan, Niamh Fallon, Bridget Goode, Anne Marie Carley, Cathy McCann, Lorraine Connor, Regina Casey.

Subs: Cathy Harrison for A M Carley.

Referee: Owen Mcnally (Monaghan)

Ladies National Junior Football League final

Longford ladies chase further success

Impressive winners of the All Ireland ‘B’ Championship last year in gaining consolation for their unlucky defeat by Clare in the All Ireland Junior final, the Longford ladies Football squad are back in the limelight again as they take on neighbouring rivals Roscommon in the National Junior League final in Ballinasloe on Sunday next (2.00 pm), curtain raiser to the senior decider between Monaghan and Waterford (3.30 pm).

No matter what happens against Roscommon, Longford are promoted to senior league status next year but winning another national title would be a tremendous achievement by this young team – many of whom are still eligible to play in the Minor (U18) grade – and manager Martin Reilly is quietly confident that his charges can emerge triumphant.

“We have prepared well for the final but are only to well aware that we will need to be at our best, if victory is to be achieve. Roscommon, after all, held us to a draw in the earlier stages of the league and that was the only point we dropped in qualifying from our section.

However, we let a commanding lead slip on that occasion and I firmly believe that we are a better side – something we aim to prove on Sunday”, stated Martin.

In reaching the knock-out stages of the league, Longford beat Kildare, Limerick, Offaly, Galway and Dublin, and drew of course, with Roscommon. They then went on to overcome Armagh in the quarter final and Limerick in the semi final and another victory on Sunday will leave them in great shape for their first defence of the Leinster Junior Championship title, which is against Offaly the following week.

New talent has been discovered this season, most notably Edel McGann from Kenagh who had slotted in really well at full back. The other key players in the Longford defence are Barbara McElvanney and Sheila Farrell in the half back line while Emma Cooney and Fiona Blessington will team up again at centrefield, having developed into a very formidable partnership.

However, possibly the strongest line on the Longford team are the three half forwards, Mary Burke, Dara Gill (this year’s captain) and Michelle Hannify, and they are expected to make a big impact on the game. Lining out at full forward is last year’s captain Mary Kiernan, who should also be much to the fore, and with a little bit of luck, the Longford ladies will hopefully be celebrating another success on Sunday evening.

Gill is ‘game on’ for Longford

After the agonising near misses of last year, Longford team captain Dara Gill is determined both she and her colleagues will go one better this year.

The Marketing and Languages student from Sligo RTC, is, as her studies would indicate, well capable of ‘selling’ the strengths of her side to an attentive audience. What’s more she also talks the language of a ‘good game’.

Arising from her skills off the field, Dara articulates the mood of the Longford camp in a most positive light, “our preparations have been brilliant, we have had no injuries and everyone is 100% committed”.

Despite the interruption of exams, training, the 19 year old Drumlish lass stresses, continued apace, with sessions at the weekend. An despite such hard toil, “the adrenalin is pumping more than ever”, Dara adds.

The incentives are there to succeed, to build upon last year’s All Ireland ‘B’ title, won by defeating Down. Semi finalists in the competition last year, the team have another title in their slights.

“We feel we can definitely go one better than last year. At our first training session, we had a full squad of players and since then, have trained at the weekend, everyone makes sure to get down (from Dublin and other distant locations)”, the captain affirms.

Gill is something of a playmaker for her side, the lady who makes things happen. A goal-scoring sensation last year, this year much is expected of her undoubted talents from the ’40, a kind of leader of the attack.

It will therefore be her role as much as anyone else’s that will go a long way to determining who wins this Shannonside derby. On the last occasion the sides met, they drew.

“We definitely feel we can play 100% better football on the day. When we played Roscommon, we led by nine points at one stage and failed to score in the second half. We could have been over confident too, but heads will stay down well this time”, says gill.

Sunday though is just but one piece of the jigsaw for Gill and her colleagues. The allure of the championship is the main focus of attention for the side, and a chance to return to Croke Park and win.

Sunday though would help to set such wheels of ambitions in motion. And Dara Gill knows as much, the team, she feels, have the strength to do it. “We now have strength in depth, such as Edel McGann at full back and a strong squad”.

“If we win centre field and Fiona and Emma can do so, then our backs and forwards are strong, we’ll be in with a good shout”, says the team captain, the master of marketing her team’s strength.

Reilly rises his troops

Been there, done that, after last year’s meteoric rise for Longford ladies footballers, you might think Martin Reilly would be happy with his lot, having helped to establish a strong profile for the game last year.

But not quite! There is still some unfinished business to attend to. That business is the consolidation and further growth of the game in Longford. Having won one consolation prize (the All Ireland ‘B’ title), the search is on for another of a greater allure.

“The hunger is still there, look around you out there”, says the team manager. And the evidence is around you on the bleak, almost winery Wednesday evening, as almost 20 players make their paces around Pearse Park.

There is a determination to succeed, Reilly like to call it a maturity about the players this year – “the girls realise that last year was a fairytale. The girls are still young but they’ve learned a lot in strong company”. Accounting for the disappointments of last year, the manager doesn’t want to cry too long over spilt milk, yet feel it was all part of the learning process, “they’re (the squad) are well fit to do well. You often have to lose one before you can win one”, he stresses.

With the experience of last year, though comes the familiarity of the teams’ exploits. No longer4 are Longford the ‘dark horses’, the ‘unknown quantity’, Reilly accepts this stoically.

“Other players and teams have seen our players in the League and Championship, especially in Croke Park. They know what to look out for, but it’s often the players they least talk about that can win matches”, he note. Its an adopted ploy Reilly feels Roscommon have notioned. “I think Roscommon believe if they can contain three or four of our players, they’ll win. We have a whole panel of 15/20 players who can still lift their game”, he says.

Reilly know what Roscommon can do, and is keen to stress he won’t be taking them for granted. Reilly saw their semi final victory over Dublin, which he felt, “they were very lucky to win”, noting that Dublin, when three points up at one stage, hit the crossbar and feel both their centre half forward and centre half back are their danger players.

Since then, the team are ‘firmer’ as a unit and Reilly feels the team, now being coached by Killoe clubman Gary Fenelon, have the game to win on Sunday. “We need to win the midfield battle. If we can’t get a good supply of ball into the forwards, we won’t do it”.

Of the profile of team in general, Reilly laments the fact that ‘Ladies Football’ is not getting the recognition it deserves, though we should have plenty of support in Ballinasloe”, he predicts. That support could prove crucial on Sunday.

Ladies Final Bound

Ladies Leinster Junior Championship

Longford 6-18 Wexford 1-3

It was rather easy in the end for Longford ladies as they emphatically brushed aside the challenge of Wexford last Saturday evening in Monaduff.

It took a little while for Longford to get into their stride but once they did, there was no looking back, a Mary Kiernan goal on seven minutes setting them on their way.

Wexford were always playing catch up after that, their chances affected too by a wasted opportunity on goal by their midfielder Carmel Creane, who fluffed her shot on goal in those early stages.

Longford however dominated in all sectors, with both Emma Cooney and Fiona Blessington dominant in midfield. With such a supply of ball coming into the forwards, it was hardly surprising Longford led 3-4 to 0-2 at the interval.

On the resumption, Longford continued their barrage on the Wexford goal, despite the fact that team manager Martin Reilly and his selectors Liam Forde and Peter Donlon elected to substitute five of their minor side in those early stages. By then the match was over and the only matter that remained to be resolved was the margin of victory Longford were going to enjoy. Wexford for their part, scored a late cosolation goal.

It was a near effortless performance from Longford, but one wonders will facile victories such as these serve much purpose for the far tougher examination that is like to be the Leinster final. Time will tell!

Good victory for Ladies

Leinster MF Championship

Longford 2-13 Wexford 2-6

Longford minors followed the path of their U16s and Junior teams by defeating Wexford in the Leinster semi final at Crettyard last week. With comfortable wins over Dublin and Westmeath already secured, this was the most difficult of Longford’s games to date. In the far ten minutes, however, Longford enjoyed the perfect start, scoring 1-3 without reply.

Longford’s goal was a wonderful effort from Emma Cooney along with points from Paula Harkins, Fiona Blessington and half back Carmel McElvanney.

Wexford soon after opened their account with a point from Lisa Cadcyan, followed by another point from Kate Kelly. Longford did respond in kind through Fiona Blessington, before Wexford hit a purple scoring patch, their best of the game.

Wexford’s goal came from Kate Kelly which tied the match all square, but back again came Longford and scored a crucial goal with only minutes of the half remaining. A high ball into Josephine Donlon was punched into the patch of Michelle Smith, who spotting Sharon McKeown loose, gave her a good ball leaving McKeown free to fire the ball to the corner of the net.

Immediately Longford scored again, through Fiona Blessington leaving them 2-5 to 1-4 ahead at the break. Wexford however, were nothing if not battlers and got their second immediately on the resumption.

But Longford had all the answers and though Wexford managed two further points in quick success, Longford in just as quick a time, managed four such efforts.

And just to leave no doubt as to who the worthy winners were at the finish, Longford finished in style, wit three Fiona Blessington points and another effort from Michelle Smith.

This was a good performance from Longford who now meet Laois this Wednesday evening in the Leinster Park.

Best for Longford were S Farrell, particularly when switched from attack to defence. Laura Doherty also had a very good second half and though Longford’s centres died for a period in the second half, the side finished well with Emma Cooney and Fiona Blessington scoring 1-8 between them.

Ladies Junior NFL

Roscommon v Longford

Longford to take title

The stage is almost set for Longford to add another title to their illustrious achievement of the past year when they face near neighbours Roscommon in Duggan Park, Ballinasloe on Sunday.

The novelty of last year’s great adventure may be over, yet there’s no hiding the sense of excitement or enjoyment being experienced by those involved in the Longford set up at present.

Sunday though represents Longford’s toughest match of their campaign, a campaign they completed with a near faultless record. Longford’s only blemish came, ironically, against Roscommon, when the sides drew.

Few changes have occurred within their ranks and of those that have, such changes have strengthened an already strong even further. A case in point is full back Edel McGann. It is basically ‘as you were’ for the Longford side from last year, with few changes. Keeper Katrina Mulvihill still operates between the sticks, where she admirably overcame a wretched first quarter in last year’s All Ireland final.

Defensively, side from the aforementioned McGann, there a number of stars, but collectively, this area do their job with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of effect.

Further ahead the midfield battle will be decisive. Longford’s likely pairing of Fiona Blessington and Emma Cooney will be crucial. Their inexplicable fad out in the side’s league meeting contributed to the end result.

If midfield can produce, then the attack can deliver. Players such as Mary Burke, captain Dara Gill and Una Flynn can ferment the killer punch as they have in last year’s games.

The end result? Roscommon will be keen to mark their return to this level of football with a win. Once a side with a big tradition, a team with players the likes of Regina Crley and Regina Finnegan will need to be watched closely.

Other players to be watch out for are goalkeeper Carol Manning, defenders Ursula Brooks and Mary Beades, while in attack, Niamh Fallon and Bridget Goode are potential match winners. If Reilly’s team can absorb likely early pressure and ‘make hay while the sun shines’, the team can record a second national title and continue their learning curve, thus consolidating the presence of ladies football in Longford.

Fiona gives her Blessing!

Leinster Ladies Mf championship

Longford 3-16 Dublin 1-8

As part of their preparations for Sunday’s big game, Longford’s minors comfortably disposed of Dublin at Higginstown last Saturday evening with no less than eight of the players like to line out in Duggan Park, Ballinasloe.

Star of the show was undoubtedly Longford midfielder Fiona Blessington who has an outstanding display from midfield. The fact that Dublin used five different players in attempting to curb her influence is testament to her performance.

At half time, Longford led 2-10 to 0-2. The second half saw both side’s play out the final half hour as best they could, Dublin not giving up the fight.

In the end, Longford finished with a late flourish, a late goal from Paula Harkins from close range, doing justice to the scoreboard and the home side’s authoritative performance.


Karina Mulvihill, Irene Kiernan, Josephine Donlon, Anita McNerney, Crmel Kearney (0-1), Catriona Donlon, Carmel McElvanney, Fiona Blessington (1-8 0-4 frees), Barbara McElvanney, Sharon McKeon (0-1), Michelle Smith (0-2), Una Flynn (1-1), Paula Harkins (1-1), Paula Kenny (0-2), Aoife Doherty.

Referee: Ciaran Hogan (Westmeath).

Meet the Longford Ladies Squad

Karen Mulvihill: Age 17. Regular keeper with the county over the past two years. A student at Lanesboro Community College. Karina plays her club football with the Rathcline Club. Her favourite player is John O’Leary. Honours: Leinster Junior Championship and Senior ‘B’ All Ireland medal.

Barbara McElvanney: Age 17. Student at Granard Convent, where she won an All Ireland Schools medal in 1997. An inspirational defender. Barbara plays club football with Ballymore. She is keen to add a national league medal to the Leinster and All Ireland medals already won. Her favourite player is Peter Canavan.

Katrina Donlon: Age 17. Defender of considerable skill and tenacity. A student, she plays her club football with Rathcline. County honours include Leinster Junior Championship medal and All Ireland’B’ medals. Her favourite player is Anthony Tohill.

Fiona Blessington: Ballymore. Age 16. Student. A midfielder of tremendous quality. Her penetrating runs are a constant source of menace to opposing teams. She won an All Ireland Schools medal with Granard Convent. Also hold All Ireland ‘B’ and Leinster Junior medals. Her favourite player is Anthony Tohill.

Emma Cooney: Age 18. Student at UCL. Emma has made the midfield position her own this year. Strong forceful player form St Helens Club. Holds All Ireland ’B’ and Leinster Junior medals. Her favourite player is Sue Ramsbottom.

Laura Doherty: Age 17. Student. A tenacious and speedy half back from the Killoe Club. Also an accomplished basketball player and member of Moyne Community Schools All Ireland winning side. Her favourite player is Paul Curran. Honours: Leinster Junior and All Ireland ‘B’ medals.

Paula Harkin: Age 17. Student from the Ballymore Club. A forceful inside forward with a penchant for getting vital scores. Her favourite player is Kerry’s Maurice Fitzgerald, apart from her brother Michael of course! Paula is determined to add a league medal to All Ireland ‘B’ and Leinster medals won in 1996.

Carmel Hennessy: Age 23. Surveyor. Plays with the Portabello Club in Dublin. Carmel had added much needed strength to the panel this year. Her favourite player is Trevor Giles.

Dara Gill: Age 19. Student at Sligo RTC. Team captain and an outstanding centre forward in the traditional mould. Plays with St Helens. She is determined to lead her county to the summit this year. Dara’s favourite player is Chris Heffernan.

Michelle Hannify: Age 22. Dental nurse. Very skilful player and all round sportsperson. Equally adept at basketball, gaelic football and soccer. Her jinking runs and speed around the pitch make her a very difficult player to mark. Plays with St Helens club. Michelle’s favourite player is her brother David.

Mary Burke: age 21. Coaching and Games Promotions Officer with Longford GAA. Ever present member of Longford’s formidable half forward line. Fast, skilful and determined. Her opponent could be in for a torrid time. Mary plays with Clonguish club. Her favourite player is Paul Curran.

Sheila Farrell: Age 16. Student. Plays her football in the half back line where she is a great leader of the game. Loves to attack and regularly contributes on the scoreboard. Sheila is also an accomplished athlete. Her favourite player is Peter Canavan. Plays with the Rathcline Club.

Edel McGann: Age 23. Civil Servant. Recalled to the panel this year and has made the full back position her own. Plays with the Rathcline Club. Edel has anchored the Longford defence very well this year. Her favourite player is Liam McHale.

Mary Kiernan: Age 21. Technician with Intel. Captain Fantastic of 1996. A ‘play anywhere’ player with tremendous heart. Her ability to take long range points could prove vital for Longford. A member of the Ballymore club, her favourite player is Peter Canavan.

Una Flynn: Age 17. Student. Stylish corner forward with the goal grabbing gift and like all good corner forwards, Una has the ability to present herself in the right place at the right time. Plays with the Clonguish Club. Her favourite player is Liam McHale.

Paula Kenny: Age 18. Student. An accurate forward and excellent target person, who always contributes on the scoreboard. Plays with Rathcline Club. Her favourite player is Micky Linden.

Geraldine Hanley: Age 19. Arts student at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Steady defender who gets through her work with the minimum of fuss and is good in the air. Geraldine plays her club football with the Rathcline club. Her favourite player is Trevor Giles.

Josephine Donlon: Age 17. Student. Versatility is Josephine’s second name, as she regularly alternates between defence and attack. Excellent in the air and has a good eye for the goal. Plays with the Rathcline Club. Josephine’s favourite player is Jason Sherlock.

Irene Kiernan: Age 18. Student. Very dependable and tight marking corner back and is never one to give up. Irene plays her club football with Ballymore and goes back in time a little to choose Willie-Joe Padden as her favourite player.

Maura Moran: Age 19. Student. Maura joined the panel this year and is competing for a place in the defensive line. From Carrickedmond, Maura plays with the Rathcline Club. Her favourite player is Meath’s Trevor Giles.

Jennifer Hennessy: Age 19. Student. A very balanced and skilful player, adept in either rattack or defence. Sister of Carmel and plays club football with Killoe. Her favourites players are Anthony Tohill and her cousin Seamus Quinn.

Eilish Rhatigan: Age 23. Secretary. One of Longford’s most versatile players, equally at home in defence or attack. From the Rathcline club, Eilish is a member of the county executive. Her favourite player is Colm Coyle.

Helen Flanagan: Age 20. Gym instructor. Helen is one of the newcomers to the pane this year and is challenging for a place in the half forward line. A native of Kenagh, Helen plays with the Rathcline club and selects Joe Brolly as her favourite player.

Noelle McGann: Age 23. Secretary. Joined the panel this year. Strong and determined with the ability to play anywhere on the field. From Kenagh, Noelle plays club football with Rathcline. Her favourite player is Trevor Giles.

Patricia Lynch: Age 17. Student. Patricia is the reserve keeper on the squad, and is a very consistent performer with her club Killoe. Her favourite player is John O’Leary.

Sharon McKeown: Age 16. Student. Sharon is a member of Longford’s Under 16 squad. She plays with club football with St Helens and David Hannify is her favourite player.

Ladies National Junior Football Legue Final

Longford’s ‘Spice Girls’ are tops

Longford 2-9 Roscommon 3-5

Move over the Spice Girls, the Longford ladies football team are now top of the charts (footballing charts that is), following the smash hit success.

Girl power had its day in Duggan Park, Ballnasloe last Sunday as unprecedented scenes of joy marked Longford’s breakthrough at this level in ladies football.

It was a marvellous triumph fashioned in the best possible way by the Longford side. Manager, Martin Reilly and their coach, Gary Fenelon.

Like the Spice Girls themselves, they displayed all the foursome’s characteristic traits – the side were ‘posh’ and so sophisticated in the application; ‘scared’ Roscommon throughout and ‘baby-faced’ though they may be, grew up footballing wise very quickly last Sunday.

As for the example of ‘ginger’, Longford even possessed that in wing forward Mary Burke, who displayed her usual passion and enthusiasm for the cause, so much so, she was booked, rather harshly in the early stages of the game.

But to return to the contest itself. Indeed the action speaks for itself as this was an absorbing game, full of end to end action, great score taking and terrific heroism from both sides.

Spare a though for Roscommon though. They performed splendidly in their first final at this level since 1993 and will be all the wiser for this experience.

Grew Up Fast

In the contest itself, Roscommon grew up fast – they had to, falling behind to three early Longford points in the opening five minutes, two of those coming from captain, Dara Gill. Roscommon did respond through centre-half forward, Bridget Good from a free before Longford extended their lead thanks to a brace of points from midfielder Fiona Blessington.

With Longford now leading by four points, it would have been misleading to expect them to run away with this contest. So it proved Roscommon had yet to catch fire and though enjoying a fair share of possession, lacked the cutting edge of Longford in attack.

That soon changed however, as not for the first time, the flow of this game turned on it’s head. Three goals in a nine minute spell propelled Roscommon into overdrive.


For Longford, the occasion was surreal and unerringly similar to events which occurred in the opening quarter of their All Ireland final with Clare last year. The end result subsequently proved different on this occasion, but at this time, try telling that to Longford. They were rocked to their very foundations.

Roscommon’s first goal owed as much to good fortune as anything else. Mary Grehan transferred inside to Goode who split the defence with her through ball.

Fortune smiled

In turn, Lorraine Connor was on hand, but appeared to have lost her momentum. However, fortune smiled upon her as she half hit the ball, which struck the post before bobbling over the line for a bizarre goal on 14 minutes.

Then enter, Regina Carley, one of two sisters, on the team with two sizzling efforts. The first of which was a superbly directed shot to the left corner of the net, giving Karina Mulvihill no chance in the Longford goal.

Try as she might, Mulvihill could not keep out Roscommon’s third goal as Carley again, set up courtesy of a 1-2 with Cathy McCann, planted a high drive to the top of the net, that Mulvihill could only parry on its way.

A lesser team would have been destroyed by such body blows but not Longford, who kept battling to the end of the half. Questions were now being asked about the team, who rarely found themselves in such a situation.


The spark that lit the revival was full forward Mary Kiernan’s goal on 29 minutes, a crashing shot to the net from outside the square after fielding Mary Kiernan’s centre.

Now trailing by only two points, Longford wiped out the deficit seconds later when corner forward Una Flynn was fouled en route to goal and a penalty resulted. From it,. The Clonguish lady dusted herself down and finished with aplomb with a lot shot to the left corner of the net. Roscommon keeper Carol Manning did, it has to be said, commit herself too soon.


In keeping with the play over the half hour, it was in truth no more than Longford deserved, leading by 2-5 to 3-1. The side soon extended that lead with points from Dara Gill and Mary Kiernan. Later in the contest, Longford could, and should have had another penalty. Emma Cooney fielding Fiona Blessington’s high centre, who was obstructed en route to goal. A penalty seemed likely, it seemed by outreached arms of referee Owen McNally , though after consultations with one of his umpires, incredibly awarded a free out to Roscommon for what can only be presumed was a square ball.

Tough Nut

However, Roscommon weren’t finished, though they found the Longford full back line a tougher nut to crack than they had in the second half. Roscommon did reduce the deficit to a single point thanks to efforts from Bridget Goode and Diane Dolan, but the efforts of Michelle Hannify, now back in the centre of defence and Sheila Farrell, stemmed the Roscommon side.

It was end to end stuff and not for persons of a nervous disposition. Roscommon did equalise with nine minutes remaining thanks to Diane Dolan and subsequently levelled again through Bridget Goode following a Dara Gill strike for Longford.

Dramatic Finish

But Roscommon could not get that all-important winner; it wasn’t from lack of trying. However, Longford’s forwards had the answers, in particular supersud Paula Kenny, who fired over the late winner for as dramatic a winner you could wish for.

Longford just about deserved their victory, though in hindsight, a draw would not have been an injustice to Roscommon. The Western side fought tenaciously, though a lack of experience told against them.

For the Roscommon outfit, Regina Finnegan, Diane Dolan, Bridget Goode and the Carley sister Ann-Marie and Regina were best. For Longford, Michelle Hannify, Fiona Blessington, Dara Gill and Mary Kiernan were outstanding.


Chief among all players on view though, was arguably Sheila Farrell, the unsung player on view, but for the amount of work sustained by her and her effective distribution from defence, she was peerless.

For Longford, the mission to compete at a higher grade next year has been accomplished and already the quest for championship honours is being considered, starting next weekend.

Roscommon, though naturally disappointed, can take heart from this display, laying down a marker for the future and re-establishing the game to its once major position in the county.


Karina Mulvihill, Kathrina Donlon, Edel McGann, Josephine Donlon, Sheila Farrell, Barbara mcElvanney, Geraldine Hanley, Fiona Blessington (0-3 1f, Mary Burke, Dara Gill (0-4 1f), Michelle Hannify, Jennifer Hennessy, Mary Kiernan (1-1), Una Flynn (1-0, pen),

Subs: Irene Kiernan for G Hanley, Carmel Hennessy for J Donlon, Paul Kenny (0-1) for C Donlon, Noelle McGann for M Hannify.


Carol Manning, Mary Beades, Usrula Brooks, Emma Mannion, Regina Finnegan, Christina O’Maley, Charmaine Cooney, Mary Grehan, Diane Dolan (0-2), Niamh Fallon, Bridget Goode (0-3 1f, Ann Marie Carley, Cathy McCann, Lorraine Connor (1-0), Regina Carley (2-0).

Sub: Cathy Harrison for A M Carley.

Referee: Owen McNally

Final thoughts

Dara Gill (Longford captain): “I knew we’d do it, even if the margin was very small. We gave ourselves a bit to do but the way we revived was outstanding. Paula Kenny did the business in the end and our goals came just at the right time. This win is a great boost to morale and our championship meeting with Offaly next Saturday”.

Martin Reilly (Longford Team Manager): “It was a fierce game, Roscommon are a very good team, but the subs we brought in did very well. Paula Kenny’s point at the end was brilliant and Michelle Hannify was outstanding when we moved her to defence, curbing Roscommon’s most dangerous forward. Everybody did well, our backs got caught out sometimes. The championship is now our main aim, we hope to get back to Croke Park. We’re a very young team and we’re going to improve”.

Martina Finneran (Roscommon Ladies County Secretary) “We drew in the league and we knew it was going to be very tough. We missed some chances and things just didn’t work out, that Fiona Blessington girl had a great game. Longford are one of the best teams in the county, their successes have spurred on Roscommon. We are lacking in experience, but know what the future holds, we have a very young team”.

Bridget Goode: (Longford centre half forward): “We (both teams) were evenly matched. We were hoping the referee was going to blow up when level. We could have done better when we were on top, but Longford have very good strong players in attack and the backs kept running strong. Give us another year and we’ll be back”.

Longford Ladies in three Leinster Finals

While near neighbours Cavan footballers were writing a new chapter in their illustrious history at Clones on Sunday last, Longford ladies were quietly making their own history by achieving the unique feat of gaining a place in three Leinster finals in one week.

The first into action will be the Under 18 girls who take on Laois on Wednesday evening, probably in Moate. The Under 16s go into action and their final opponents will be Meath. This game goes on Friday evening next and the most likely venue is the St Loman’s club grounds in Mullingar. The senior team have booked their place in the August 3rd final, yet to be arranged.

The two underage games hold promise of classics, and the ever growing band of supporters are sure to get value for money. With Karina Mulvihill, Josephine Donlon, Katherine Donlon, Irene Kiernan and Longford’s rocklike half back line of last year, Laura Doherty, Barbara McElvanney and Sheila Farrell all available, plus Carmel McElvanney. Longford have a very strong hand in defence. Emma Cooney and Fiona Blessington must be the strongest pairing in the county at midfield. Quality forwards like Michelle Smith, Paula Kenny, Paula Harkins, Sharon McKeon give the team an all round balance that suggests that they will be very hard to beat. It would however, be a great fool that would take Laois for granted. They are still the strongest county in Leinster with a well organised club competition structure at under age level. It all points to a classic and a big following of Longford supporters are expected to travel to Moate on Wednesday evening.

AIB Leinster Ladies Junior Championship semi final

All too easy for rampant Longford

Longford 6-17 Wexford 1-3

As expected Longford ladies duly booked their place in the AIB sponsored Leinster Ladies championship final on Sunday August 3rd by virtue of a ridiculously easy victory over an extremely poor Wexford second string side in Monaduff on Saturday evening last.

The fact that both teams had got to the penultimate stage of a Leinster championship without playing a game having received walkovers in the previous rounds, does nothing to enhance the competition, much less prepare the team for the final stages of the All Ireland series where their likely opponents might be Tyrone or Roscommon.

Strangely Wexford had slightly the better of the early exchanges and should have goaled early on when corner forward Nancy Donohue completely miscued her shot when completely clear in front of goal, while Elaine Nash and Mairead Mullins both were wide from easy scoring position before Mary Kiernan blasted to the net in the 8th minute to open Longford’s account. Thereafter it was a one-way procession. Mary Burke (3), Fiona Blessington (2), Paula Kenny (1), all added points coming from the boot of their best forward Emma Grannel.

Longford continued in the second half as they had left off in the first half. Inside the first 6 minutes had increased their tally with goals from Fiona Blessington, Dara Gill and points from Fiona Blessington (2) and Una Flynn. Thankfully for Wexford the goal harvest for Longford was played at that stage.

The Longford onslaught continued and by the 17th minute they had put a further four points on the scoreboard. It took Wexford all of 21 minutes to get their first score of the second half, a point from Emma Grannel, this sparked a mini revival as midfielder Mairead McDaid raced through the Longford defence to score a fine goal in the 23rd minute. There ended the Wexford revival, however as Longford with nonchalant ease concluded with four unanswered points.

Longford were a class apart as Wexford had no answer to the classy displays of the two Marys – Burke and Kiernan, Michelle Hannify, Dara Gill, Fiona Blessington, Sheila Farrell, now must be regarded as a racing certainty for the Leinster title, and there is hardly a bookie out there that would take a bet. If Longford have a chick in their armour, it is the defence and even a poor Wexford team on their rare trips across midfield made them look decidedly uncomfortable. Allied to this was a constant tendency on some defenders parts to kick aimlessly over the sideline and directly to an opponent. The weaknesses that were so glaringly exposed against Roscommon have not been rectified, something which will have to be done if Longford are to achieve outright All Ireland honours. With such a talented team anything less would have to be regarded as a major setback.


Karina Mulvihill, Josephine Donlon, Edel mcGann, Irene Kiernan, Jennifer Hennessy, Sheila Farrell, Katrina Donlon, Fiona Blessington (2-3), Emma Cooney, Mary Burke (0-5), Dara Gill (1-2), Michelle Hannify (1-1), Paula Keary (0-1), Mary Kiernan (2-1), Una Flynn (0-1),

Subs used: Eilish Rhatigan (0-1), Carmel Hennessy, Geraldine Hanley, Helen Flanagan, Maura Moran.

Under 16s take on Meath

Having swept aside two of the powers of underage ladies football in the province, a third power – namely Meath – now stands in the way of Longford’s Under 16 stars and an historic Leinster crown. Meath won last year’s All Ireland title at under 14 level, which gives an indication of the task facing Longford.

“I don’t know that much about them but they are probably good”, team captain Fiona Blessington told “The Leader this week. “We have played schools games against teams from Meath and they are usually good”.

But Longford’s rising stars are not going to be phased, and why should they be? At the start of the campaign – which Longford began preparations for in March – three teams were being touted as the favourites, Laois, Dublin and Meath.

A few games later and Laois and Dublin are gone, both beaten by Longford and the girls are now confident that they can finish the job and overcome Meath.

Under team manager, Gary Fenlon, the girls have all worked hard and training has been well attended all the way through. Longford showed early promises in challenge games, and this promise was realised when they defeated Laois by 8-7 to 5-4 in a rain-soaked game.

The withdrawal of Carlow sent Longford straight through to the semi finals, where Dublin awaited. Again Longford gave a great display of skilful and determined football.

The Leinster final will more than likely be played at the St Loman’s Club grounds in Mullingar. Backboned by three of the junior panel, Fiona Blessington, Sheila Farrell and Sharon McKeon.

Their experience in their exploits this year and last year with the junior team, particularly of playing in Croke Park in an All Ireland final, is vital to the Under 16 team and if they hit form again on Friday, then another Leinster Crown in ladies football will be heading to the county.

Other key players are Anita McNerney, Regina Carroll, Michelle Smith, Aine O’Neill, Claire Kiernan and Amanda Lennon.


Carmel Kearney (Ballymore), Aine O’Neill (Ballymore), Anita McNerney (Ballymore), Regina Carroll (Rathcline), Marie Carrigy (Killoe), Treasa Gearty (St Helens), Edel Harrington (Dromard), Patricia Donlon (Rathcline), Claire Kiernan (Killoe), Mairead Hogan (Rathcline), Carmel McElvaney (Ballymore), Deirdre Rehill (Killoe), Helen Reilly (Killoe), Louise Carroll (Rathcline), Sheila Farrell (Rathcline), Fiona Blessington (Ballymore), Michelle Smith (Ballymore), Amanda Lennon (Killoe), Sharon Treacy (Killoe), Catriona McDonnell (Killoe), Melissa Smith (Ballymore), Pauline Kiernan (Dromard), Linda McKeon (St Helens).

Darragh Kelly previews this weekend’s Leinster Junior Ladies Football final and profiles the players involved.

Michelle Smith: Ballymore, 14 years. Half forward. Honours: One Leinster School’s medal, one Senior County Championship, one Senior 13 a side League, one Senior 9 a side League/Championship. Thoughts on match, looking forward to a competitive and thoughts of capturing a Leinster title.

Irene Kiernan: Ballymore 17 years. Corner back. Honours: Two Leinster School’s medals, one Senior County Championship, Senior 13 a side League, Senior 9 a side League/Championship. Thoughts on match, hope we all play up to our standards and prove too good for Louth.

Fiona Blessington: Ballymore 15 years. Midfield. Honours: Leinster School’s Championship 1995/96, Senior County champions 1995, Senior 13 a side League 1995, Senior 9 a side League/Championship 1995. Thoughts on match, a very tough game in prospect. Looking forward to a good competitive challenge.

Barbara McElvanney: Ballymore, 16 years. Centre half back. Honours: Two Leinster School’s medals, County champions 1995, 9 a side League/Championship 1995, 13 a side 1995. Thoughts on match, it will be a tough one, but we will be up to the challenge.

Mary Kiernan: Ballymore, 20 years. Full back. Honours: Senior ‘B’ Championship 1990, Senior Championship medals 1991 and 1995, one Leinster school’s medal, Senior 9 a side League/Championship 1995, Dublin Colleges League medal with Kevin St College 1995. Thoughts on match, looking forward to a good competitive game, we’ve trained hard and know how strong we are but we’ll be taking nothing for granted. With such a good panel of players, we hope to have a historic win.

Paula Harkin: Ballymore, 17 years. Corner forward. Honours: Senior Championship medal 1995, 13 a side League 1995, 9 a side League/Championship. Thoughts on match, it has been fantastic experience reaching the Leinster final, hopefully we can bring glory to Longford.

Jennefier Hennessy: Killoe, 18 years. Honours: Senior ‘B’ Championship 1995. Favourite player Brendan Lennon.

Maria Doherty: Killoe, 17 years. Right half back. Honours: Senior ‘B’ Championship 1995. Favourite player John Toher.

Aoife Doherty: Killoe, 14 years. Corner forward. Honours: Under 12 League 1993, School’s League 1994, Senior ‘B’ Championship 1995. U13, U14 and U16 Championship medals, U13, U14 League medals, winner of Longford Mini-sevens three years in a row, represented Longford ladies footballers in the Community Games. Thoughts on the game, a lot of time, effort and hard training has been put into our team and we’re going to Carlow on Sunday to bring the Leinster Championship to Longford.

Josephine Donlon: Rathcline 16 years. Corner back. Honours: Schoolboy’s Championship with Fermoyle, U13, U14 and U16 Championship medals and U13 and U14 league medals, winner of Longford Mini-sevens three years in a row and winner of Community Games Ladies Leinster final and whatever happens, we’ll make the most of it.

Paula Kenny: Rathcline, age 16. Full forward. Honours: Schoolboy Championship with Fermoyle, U13, U14 and U16 Championship medals with U13 and U14 league medals, winner of Longford mini-sevens three years in a row and represented Leinster on two occasions on All Ireland semi final day, ladies football medallist at the Community games. Thoughts on match, I would love to score the winning goal to give Longford a Leinster title.

Sheila Farrell: Rathcline 14 years. Half forward. Honours: Two schoolboy’s Championship medals with Fermoyle, winner of U13, U14, U14 league and championship medals. U16 championship winners of Leinster Park football medallist at the Community Games. Thoughts on match, I would love to go back to Longford with a Leinster title.

Carina Mulvihill: Rathcline 16 years. Goalkeeper. Honours: Winner of U14, U16 championship medals and U14 league medallist. Thoughts on match, would love to keep a clean sheet and would also love to bring a Leinster championship medal back to Newtowncashel and Longford.

Geraldine Hanley: Rathcline, age 18. Half back. Honours: Schoolboy’s championship with Fermoyle, winner of the mini-sevens in Fermoyle. Thoughts on game, have forgotten about the Leaving cert results until this match is over.

Eilish Rhatigan: Rathcline, 23 years. Corner forward. Honours: Schoolboy’s championship with Fermoyle NS. Thoughts on match, we’ve had to travel to Dublin and Wexford and beat them to get to this final and if everyone gives 100%, we’ll travel to Carlow and beat Louth.

Una Flynn: Clonguish, 16 years. Left half forward. Honours: Division one school’s runners up medal with Melview NS (1993), runner up U14 and U13 county championships with Killoe (1994), runner up county ‘B’ championship with Clonguish (1994). Thoughts on match, looking forward to a good game with Longford hopefully winning their first provincial title.

Mary Burke: Clonguish, 20 years. Centre half forward. Honours: One SF championship medal 1989. Thoughts on match, delighted and honoured to play for my county in a Leinster final. Hope I can play well.

Teresa Geary: St Helens, c orner forward. Honours: A whole host of underage honours including SF championship medals in 1993 and 1994. Thoughts on match, great to see Longford getting so far. Hope the team does well.

Sharon McKenna: St Helens age 15. Corner forward. Honours: Post primary school’s titles 1995 and 1996 with Moyne CS. Thoughts on match, we have a good team, we’re in good spirits as we did in the semi finals.

Michelle Hannify: St Helens, age 22. Centre half forward. Honours: Every conceivable honour won at county level including SF championship medal in 1989, 90, 93 and 94. Thoughts on match, we should do well and expect to win.

Christina Jordan: St Helens, full back. Honours: A wide range of honours, including six SF championship medals and a Leinster inter-provincial honour in 1989. Thoughts on match, Longford are capable of winning and are very determined to do well.

Dara Gill: St Helens age 18. Centre half forward. Honours: A wide range of honours which include five SF championship medals and three Post Primary school’s medals.

Ladies ready for their lap of honour

Leinster Junior final: Longford v Louth

Its taken 11 years but as they say in the movies, it will be worth waiting for if Longford ladies can capture their very first Leinster crown at Dr Cullen Park this Sunday.

Near misses in the past have ensured but since the revival of the game within the county, there’s a steely determination to atone for those near misses. Sunday’s contest with Louth is something of a trip into the unknown. But as the side have shown, they relish such challenges.

Victory against Dublin in round one was the culmination of a fine performance but better still was the victory over Wexford after extra time in the loser’s own backyard. The team are coached by Martin Reilly of Ballymore who had overseen the county’s selections at all levels this year. Many of Sunday’s team are members of the minor side, who have also blazed a trail this Spring, qualifying for the Leinster final. The parallels with last year’s Fr. Manning Cup winning Juvenile team are obvious for the team. They have started of unheralded but have grown in confidence considerably.

League wins over Offaly, Kildare, Roscommon and Limerick preceded their championship campaign with their only defeat coming at the hands of Wicklow. Perhaps it’s not so surprising the revival of ladies football within Longford. Earlier this year the ladies of Cnoc Mhuire reached a post primary school’s Leinster final.

And as the list of clubs would indicate the game is well rooted throughout the county with clubs in Killoe, Clonguish, Drumlish, Rathcline and Ballymore.

Sunday’s teams has a settled look and is well balanced. From Carina Mulvihill between the posts to sharpshooter Mary Burke, they have an air of menace in all areas. Others likely to be to the fore include Barbara McElvanney at centre half back, Michelle Hannify and opportunist Dara Gill.

This represents the biggest test for the side. On the verge of glory, theirs is a new experience with all of its attendant pressures. How the team perform depends on their own confidence as much as the challenge to be presented by Louth.

Yet having reached this far, its difficult to oppose the side from reaching the promised land. The summit is in sight.

No mistakes for Longford

Ladies JFC Final

Longford 2-12 Tyrone 1-11

This time Longford’s ladies footballers made no mistake. Beaten by Clare in last year’s All Ireland final, they made amends with a hard earned victory over Tyrone.

In a fast, free flowing game, they produced a blistering second half display to clinch their first ever title at this grade. The turning point came a minute after the break when a goal from Una Flynn blasted them into a four point lead. With Fiona Blessington outstanding at midfield, they increased the gap to six points before a late flurry from Tyrone put some respectability on the final scoreline.


K Mulvihill, K Donlon, S Farrell, E Cooney, J Hennessy, B McElvanney, G Hanley (0-4), E McGann, M Smith (0-1), D Gill, M Hannify (0-3), M Burke (1-2), M Kiernan (0-1), U Flynn (1-0),.

Subs¨J Kiernan for J Hennessy (34 mins), P Lynch for G Hanley 40 mins), P Kenny (0-1) for D Gill (55 mins), J Donlon for K Donlon (60 mins).


H Boyle, R McGinn, A Gildernew, A McCloskey, N McCartain, C Donnelly, L Fox, L McGirr, J Poyntz, S McGirr, B Holland (0-3), M Doherty (0-4), C McGarvey, C Gallagher (1-1), K McGoldrick (0-1).

Subs¨E Gormley (0-2) FOR c Galagher (25 mins), M Grogan for N McCartan (half time), L Donnelly for R McGinn (35 mins), A McKernan for J Poyntz (49 mins).

GAA Scoreboard

Oireachtas Cup – Round One Roscommon Senior Hurling

Group A Championship Final

Meath 0-15 Down 3-12 Four Roads 1-15 St Dominics 1-05

Group B Carlow Senior Hurling

Wexford 1-15 Cork 1-8 Championship final

Group C Naomh Eoin 1-9 St Mullins 2-15

Laois 1-12 Offaly 0-15 Cavan Senior Football

Oireachtas Shield – round one Championship final

Fermanagh 1-15 Sligo 3-5 Gowna 3-12 Crosserlough 2-06

AIB Ulster Club senior football Cork Senior football

Championship final Championship final

Burreo 2-8 Crossmaglen 3-9 Castlehaven 0-10 Beara 0-10

Leinster semi final 03

Longford ladies Leinster title hopes dashed by Laois

Laois 4-11 Longford 1-8

For the second year on the trot, Longford had to settle for second best against Laois in the semi final of the ladies Leinster Senior football championship and while no excuses can be made for the latest setback it would have been a closer contest had the some side not missed two clear cut goal chances in the first half.

A small attendance of no more than 250 spectators converged on Pearse Park for longford’s most important game of the year but for all their fine efforts in the first half, Michael Mulleady’s charges till trailed by four points at the break, 2-3 to 0-5.

After Mary Kehoe fired home the first Laois goal from point blank range in the 11th minute, Longford trailed by 1-2 to 0-1 with their solitary point coming from a free converted by full forward Fiona Blessington with five minutes gone on the clock.

However, they gradually proceeded to enjoy their best spell of the game and following points from Mary Burke (free) and Michelle Hannify (play), substitute Linda McKeon had the goals at her mercy but shot straight at Laois keeper Bernie Deegan in the 19th minute.

Fiona Blessington then landed an excellent score from a tight angle and after Mary Burke missed a handy free, Longford drew level with a point from Michelle Hannify in the 25th minute but her point blank shot from a few yards out should have yielded a goal.

That was a very lucky escape for Laois who then struck a real killer blow in the 28th minute when their outstanding right half forward Tracey Lawlor planted a pile-driver in the corner of the net. The same player then fired over a point and Laois were very much the dominant force on the changeover. Further points from Mary Kirwan (2) and Lawlor left the home side in deep trouble even though a well-taken Mary Burke goal in the 45th minutes threw Longford a lifeline.

Almost immediately the powerful Laois No 9 Kathleen O’Reilly burst her way through for a cracking goal and while Longford replied quickly with a point from Mary Burke, the visitors tacked on three more points.

It was now all over as a contest with Longford trailing by 3-9 to 1-6 but they kept plugging away in the face of adversity and did manager a couple of good consolation scores that were fired over by Fiona Blessington (55 mins) and Linda McKeon (57 mins).

However, Laois were not finished yet as they added a further 1-2 to their emphatic tally but Longford almost finished on a high when a cracking shot from substitute Mary Kiernan was kept out by a superb one-handed save by the opposing keeper.

The best efforts of Fiona Blessington, Michelle Hannify, Mary Burke, Alison Smyth, Michelle Ross and Linda McKeon were all to no avail as the girls in blue and gold made their exit from the Leinster Championship.


Edel Quinn, Alison Smyth, Marie Carrigy, Karina Mulvihill, Yvonne Barden, Mary Burke, Fiona Blessington, Michelle Ross, Sharon Treacy, Michelle McElvanney, Laura McGahem, Sheila Farrell (capt), Marie Brady, Barbara McElvanney, Michelle Hannify.

Suzuki Ladies national Football League Division 1A

Longford ladies crash to another crushing defeat

Kerry 3-20 Longford 0-7

After the heavy loss away to Galway the previous week, Longford crashed to another crushing defeat in round 3 of the Suzuki Ladies National Football League at Leo Casey Park in Ballymahon on Sunday last.

Avoiding relegation now seems a very difficult task with so many young players turning out in the current re-building process and Longford are highly unlikely to pick up any points in their remaining fixtures away to Cork (March 7th) and at home to All Ireland champions Mayo a week later.

Kerry fielded a very strong side including their All Star full forward Kasey O’Driscoll, and dominated the early exchanges to register 1-5 on the trot.

While Longford hit back with a brace of points from their most experienced player Mary Burke, the visitors then took over completely in adding a further two goals and four points to their tally and thus held a very commanding 3-9 to 0-3 lead at the break.

Edel Quinn notched the other Longford point in the first half and they managed just four more scores on the changeover – all fired over by Mary Burke.


Michelle Kilkenny (Dromard), Elizabeth Brady (Killoe), Aideen Gilchrist (Clonguish), Miriam McElvanney (Ballymore), Marie Carrigy(Killoe), Sharon Treacy (Killoe), Carmel Ellis (Clonguish), Michelle Ross (Carrickedmond) capt), Linda mckeon (St Helens, Drumlish), Yvonne Barden (Clonguish), Mary Burke (Clonguish 0-6), Fiona Farrell (Carrickedmond), Edel Quinn (Killoe, 0-1), Edel Harrington (Dromard), Denise Murtagh (St Helens, Drumlish).

Subs: Marina Slowey (Clonguish) for M McElvanney, Paula Harkins (Ballymore) for E Quinn, Helen Conefrey (Dromard) for C Ellis

Ladies Leinster Junior Football Championship Final

Longford ladies are Leinster champions

Stylish football wins title

Longford 2-15 Louth 4-1

Very polished, stylish football and an excellent display of point taking gave Longford ladies junior football team the Leinster title when they beat Louth in Dr Cullen Park, Carlow last Sunday. Although Louth managed to draw level at one stage, Longford’s more skilful performance outclassed and outplayed Louth for most of the game.

Een though Louth were physically stronger, they didn’t link up as well as the well-drilled and more controlled Longford side. Longford were stronger in midfield, livelier up front and their finishing was superb. As Leinster champions they now advance to the All Ireland Quarter finals where they will play London, in London.

In the opening minutes, a Mary Burke free gave Longford the lead, but they were luck not to go a goal down minutes later when the Louth full forward, Amanda Brennan had a free shot, which skidded pas the keeper and was turned wide by full back Catherina Donlon.

Longford were slow to start in the first half and the physically stronger Louth midfield won most of the possession in the early stages. However, when Fiona Blessington reverted back to her normal midfield role with Mary Kiernan moving to centre half-forward, Longford took control of this crucial area.

Midfielders Michelle Hannify and Blessington complimented each other, linking up well and both made blistering runs forward on several occasions. The Louth midfield couldn’t contain these runs and they easily unlocked the defence. Both midfielders made a huge contribution as Longford’s main playmakers.

Longford were looking more comfortable and confident when Louth scored their first goal – centre half forward Linda Finnegan took a 45, which sailed over everyone’s head and into the top corner. It was an unfortunate goal to concede and a lucky one for Louth, who didn’t deserve it. But Longford came straight back with nine points from Paula Harkins and Jennifer Hennessy.

It was this loose marking which let Dara Gill in for Longford’s first goal. She collected Paula Harkins’ pass on the right of the goals on the 14-yard line and remained calm to slot the ball into the corner. The Louth forward’s shooting was, to be fair, terrible.

Louth hadn’t the same midfield punch as Longford and their forwards, scoring only one point, almost never hit the target. Credit here to the Longford defence who tackled and tidied well and often used nice passing movements to get out of trouble.


However, the Longford backs were punished for their mistakes with Louth scoring three more goals in the match. A high ball let Sinead Mulligan in behind the defence and she scored in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Carina Mulvihill. This second soft goal conceded by Longford left them leading by five points at the interval.

Longford were sluggish at the beginning of the second half, allowing the Louth midfield to gain more possession and put more pressure on the Longford defence. And by virtue of two goals, Louth drew level. The first was also a rather fortunate goal from Orla Kirk, whose 21 yard shot straight in front of gal was deflected in on its way through a crowded goalmouth. The second was a high ball over the defence, which an unmarked Linda Finnegan punched into the net.

Captain Mary Kiernan was the most impressive Longford player in the second half. For most of the game she played at centre half forward. In this role she functioned as a third midfielder and her attacking moves from midfield, along with Hannify and Blessington restores Longford’s dominance.

The game would have been settled midway through the second half only for Louth goalkeeper, Laura Cunningham, who made two excellent saves from Una Flynn and Paula Kenny. Longford made very good use of the flanks with Jennifer Hennessy on the left wing in particular making some fine attacking plays. Her through ball put Mary Burke in acres of space and she calmly took a neat point. A further point by Dara Gill restored a Longford’s cushion.

The defence also played a crucial part when Louth tried to rally themselves. Full back Catherine Donlon made two vital interceptions, fielding two high ball which the Louth midfield fired into the forwards. Mary Kiernan capped a fine afternoon’s performance and put the result beyond doubt when Una Flynn found her just outside the 14 yard line. Kiernan steadied herself and her shot curled away from the keeper and into the net.

Just as the first half ended with Longford on the offensive, the match finished with Longford in complete control. In the end Louth knew they were beaten. They were eight points down with five minutes to go, facing a sparkling Longford side playing like Leinster champions, there was no way they would pull it back again.


Carina Mulvihill, Josephine Donlon, Caterina Donlon, Irene Kiernan, Jennifer Hennessy, Barbara McElvanney, Sheila Farrell, Mary Kiernan (capt 1-4), Michelle Hannify, Dara Gill (1-1), Fiona Blessington (0-3), Paula Harkins (0-2), Una Flynn, Mary Burke, Paula Kenny.

Sub: Laura Doherty for P Harkins.

Cumann Peile Gael

Na mBan

National leagues Semi-Final

Junior 1.00pm

Tyrone v Longford

Senior 2.30 pm

Monaghan v Waterford

Venue: St Tiernach’s Park, clones

Longford Team:

Team Manager: Martin Reilly

Selectors: Christine Jordan, Peter Donlon, Liam Forde

Corina Mulvihill


Josephine Donlon Katherine Donlon Irene Kiernan

(Rathcline) (Rathcline) (Ballymore)

Jennifer Hennessy Barbara McElvanney Sheila Farrell

(Killoe) (Ballymore) (Rathcline)

Mary Kiernan (capt) Michelle Hannify

(Ballymore) (St Helens)

Dara Gill (vice capt) Fiona Blessington Paula Harkins

(St helens) (Ballymore) (Ballymore)

Una Flynn Mary Burke Paula Kenny

(Clonguish) (Clonguish) (Rathcline)


Christina Jordan, Sharon McKearn, Nicola Cawley, Eilish Rhatigan, Michelle Walsh, Teresa Gerty (St Helens), Geraldine Hanley (Rathcline), Michelle Smith (Ballymore), Laura Doherty, Marie Doherty (Killoe)

Cnoc Muire Secondary School


P Beglan

A O’Neill M Callaghan A McNerney

Y Brady J Nannery I Kiernan

K Brady B McElvanney

B Reilly M smith N Brennan

C Kearney F Blessington D O’Reilly

Subs: M Drake C McElvanney

P Reilly A Brady

E Leavy A Keary

Teacher in charge: Mr Mick Flynn

School Focus

Convent of Mercy, Granard, co Longford

That little jewel of North Longford

By Michael Flynn

As we were about to leave the dressing room someone said “lets say a prayer”. If this was an indication of the belief these girls had in themselves, I held out little hope. Then, just before the throw in we got into a huddle. I though it was because they were cold but I was wrong again. Long before Tommy Burns introduced the famous huddle to Glasgow Celtic, the girls of Cnoc Mhuire had it in Granard. 1992 in fact – the year we won our first Leinster title against the odds. Ramsgrange, Wexford were a good team, the holders and All Ireland finalists the previous year. Before they knew it four goals had gone in and there was no way back. Final score, 5-3 to 2-7. This was beyond our wildest expectations so when St Columba’s, Stranlor beat us in the All Ireland semi final were weren’t too disappointed. When they went on to win 3 All Ireland VS titles in a row we knew what was needed.

Prominent members of that team were Eimear Brennan (Mullahorn) who is the present captain of Cavan ladies County team, which recently won the Trudy Kierans Memorial Trophy (Ulster B Championship). Outstanding at midfield on that team was Mary Kiernan (Ballymore) who captained the first Longford team to win a national competition when they beat Down in the National League Junior final in St Tiernach’s Park, Clones in 1996.

Convent of Mercy, Granard, also know as Cnoc Mhuire, a co-educational school with approximately 380 pupils on their roll (270 girls and 110 boys) have been setting their own records on the ladies football scene in the past few years and on the 5th December 1999 they won their fourth All Ireland Vocational Schools ladies title in a row when they overcame St Brendan’s Belmullet in Elphin. Although the school entered competitions on an irregular basis since the mid eighties, it is only since 1991 that they have continuously competed.

In 1993, Cnoc Mhuire were beaten in the Leinster final by Tullow, Co Carlow (4-1 to 0-12) in O’Connor Park, Tullamore Park. Margaret Doyle who was featured in the last issue played on the Tullow team. In 1994 Cnoc Mhuire did not enter the Senior VS competition but contested the Leinster Junior final when they were beaten by Heywood CS, Co Laois after extra time in an exciting match.

In 1995 Granard again entered the senior competition and won the Leinster final by beating Ramsgrange by 5-16 to 2-4. However, in the All Ireland semi final they were beaten by seven points by St Louis, Monaghan who had on their team that day, Jenny Greenan, Cathriona Brady, Catherine McCarville, Martina Grey and Mary Croakin who have all gone on to win Senior All Ireland medals wit Monaghan.

The following year, 1996, Cnoc Mhuire took revenge on St Louis in the final when they won their first All Ireland on a score of 1-12 to 1-5. They had beaten Bridgetown, Wexford in the Leinster final and Boherbue, Cork in the semi final. The team was captained by Joanne Nannery, Cavan.

Granard had an easy passage to the final in 1997 when they had comprehensive victories over Bridgetown in the Leinster final and St Brendan’s Belmullet in the All Ireland semi final. However, they were met with the stoutest resistance in the final from St Ciaran’s Ballygawley, Tyrone – conquerors of St Louis, Monaghan (extra time in the Ulster final).

Granard held out to win their second All Ireland when Longford county player Michelle Smith scored the winner three minutes from the end. The final score was 0-6 to 0-5. This team was backboned by Longford stars Barbara McElvanney, captain of the side and Fiona Blessington – a current All Star.

In 1998, Granard met with little resistance as they won their third on the trot beating Boherbue, Cork in the final (3-11 to 2-3). 8 of Boherbue played with Rockchapel when they won the All Ireland Junior Club final last year. They were Lisa Fitzpatrick, Mairead Doody, Siobhan Murphy, Norma Kelly, Regina Curtin, Mairead Kelly, Gillian Foley and Marie O’Connor. The Granard captain was Fiona Blessington.

1999 was much the same when Cnoc Mhuire accounted for St Peter’s Dunboyne in the Leinster final. Cahir VS, Tipperary in the semi final and St Brendan’s, Belmullet in the final (3-23 to 1-6). All star Fiona Blessington scored 0-13 from play that day and captain Denise O’Reilly (Cavan) accounted for 1-6.

The schools main sources have been Longford champions, Ballymore with six players and Cavan champions Mullahorn with five on that panel. The four captains have come from these clubs.

Another North Longford club, Mullinalaghta, presently supply six of the panel and Westmeath club, Streete-Multyfarnham have four members on this year’s panel, the rest come from Abbeylara, Finea and Edgeworthstown.

This year Cnoc Mhuire entered the Leinster PP schools competition for the first time ever and reached the semi final only to be beaten by the narrowest of margins by St Mark’s, Dublin (2-9 to 2-8). Since 1992 they have contested the Leinster VS final ever year of entry and have won six out of seven.

The prayer is still being said – without fail, and the huddle is still taking place. Both give rise to a good feeling.

Cnoc Mhuire have won all 4 All Ireland medals – Fiona Blessington, Denise O’Reilly, Aine Brady, Carmel McElvaney and Aisling Keary. Carmel and Aisling will be going for a 5th next year.

Cnoc Mhuire – All Ireland Vocational Schools Winners 2000:

Geraldine Dalton, Lisa McGovern, Suzanne Reilly, Michelle McElvaney, Fiona Blessington, Emer Mulligan, Carmel McElvaney, Una O’Neill, Katie Gilchrist, Julie Ann Sheridan, Orla Blessington, Assumpta Keary, Elaine Kiernan, Elizabeth Donohoe, Ellen Marie Donohoe, Aisling Keary, Carol Duffy, Una Brady, Margaret Mcnerney, Emer O’Reilly, Aine Brady, Denise O’Reilly, Jennifer Duffy, Una Reilly.

Annual Congress 2000

Hosted by Sligo

The organising committee of Kathleen Kane, Liam McDonagh and Eileen Grady did a magnificent job in hosting Annual Congress in Sligo this year. The committee together with their helpers, Michelle McGowan, Fina Gfolden, Yvonne Roddy, Angela Doohan, Edel Healy, Breege McDonagh, Annette Kearns, Annette Hodgins and Katrina Connolly worked tirelessly over the weekend to ensure that everything ran smoothly.

One of the most significant changes to come out of congress this year was the adoption of a New Rule for the Association as given here:

Cumann Peile Gael na mBan shall affiliate as a Confederate Body to Cumann Luthchleas Gael. Cumann Luthchlease Gael and Cumann Peile Gael na mBan shall be autonomous in the running of their own affairs and shall be bound by it’s own Constitution and playing Rules. (The understood definition of a confederation in this context is: an association of more or less autonomous Bodies united permanently by an agreement).

As to what exactly this will mean for the Association, time will tell. Watch this space for details!!

Player Profile:

Fiona Blessington Longford

Age: 18 years

Occupation: Student

School Attending: Cnoc Mhuire, Granard

Club: Ballymore

Position: Midfield

Started Playing: At 10 years in Bunlahy National School on the boy’s team.

Biggest Influence on

Career: Martin Reilly (Longford and Ballymore) and my family.

Career Ambition: To become a physiotherapist.

Most memorable

Sporting moments: Winning the Junior All Ireland in 1997 and being presented with the Player of the Match Award. Receiving an All Star. Captaining Cnoc Mhuire to all Ireland glory in the Vocational Schools Competition in 1998 when we completed the three in a row.

Worst sporting

Moment: Losing the Junior Championship final to Clare in 1996.

Toughest Opponent: All of them.

Player you would

Most like to transfer

To your team: Christine O’Brien (Meath)

Your advice to

Other players: Train hard and above all enjoy the game.

How would you

Improve the game: Introduce two referees and allow the shoulder challenge.

Favourite female and

Male footballer: Julie Ann Torpey (Waterford) & Christina Heffernan (Mayo) and Niall Buckley (Kildare)

Favourite hurler: Jamsie O’Connor (Clare)

Favourite sportsperson

Outside of Gaelic: Roy Keane

Best advice given

To you: You only get out of it what you put into it.

Likes: Gaelic football, basketball, athletics, going out and listening to music.

Favourite music: Pop, rock and dance music.

Favourite Film and

TV show: In the name of the Father and The Sunday Game.

What would you do

If you won the Lotto: Spend it.

Hobbies: Football, basketball, athletics and swimming.


Comment: You don’t win silver, you lose gold.

Playing Honours:

School: 4 All Ireland Vocational School Championship winner 1997-2000. 5 Leinster Championship Winner (Senior), 2 Leinster Championship Rup (Junior).

Club: 3 County Championship winner 1995, 1997, 1998. U13, U14, U16 and U18 County championship winner.

County: All Ireland Junior Championship Winner 1997, All Ireland B Championship Winner 1996. National Junior League Winner 1997, Leinster Junior Championship Winner 1996 and 1997.

Other: 2 All Star Awards 1997 and 1999, 2 All Star Replacements 1996 and 1998, 3 Leinster Inter-provincial team 1997, 1998 and 1999. Top scorer Intermediate Championship 1999.

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