Peil na mBan na Gaillimhe: Súil Siar
The Evolution of Ladies Football in Co. Galway
(1974 – 2004)
In 1974 Patsy Conway of Corofin, came up with the novel idea of playing a game of Ladies Gaelic Football at the Corofin Carnival on a Bank Holiday Monday. Patsy set about putting a team together getting many of the Camogie players of the county on stream. Indeed any young lady that was sports orientated was drafted in to practise at Corofin in preparation for this game.
Patsy Conway had made contact with Mick Talbot from Offaly who was involved with Ladies Gaelic Football. Mick asked Patsy if this Galway team would play in an All Ireland Championship that they were organising. Patsy Conway got local firm Hanleys of Corofin to sponsor the tournament that he was organising in Corofin. That game against Offaly was played on a Monday and the following Sunday the same Galway team travelled to Kilcormac, Co Offaly to play Offaly again in the All Ireland Championship which was being organised by Mick Talbot and Jim Kennedy of Tipperary. During a discussion with players following that game at Kilcormac, Patsy Conway asked the players to get organised and form a Ladies Gaelic Football committee and stay playing the game as all those involved enjoyed the game.
A meeting was arranged in Curran's Hotel in Galway where officers were elected. Frank Kearney (Turloughmore) was elected Chairman, Jackie O'Connell (Tuam) as Vice Chairman, Margaret Colleran (Eyre St, Galway) as Secretary and Pat Feeney (Galway) and Brid O'Brien (Carnmore) as Treasurers.
Fr Griffin's Football club were tremendously helpful with the formation of Ladies Football in Galway. Paddy Higgins, Henry O'Connor and Seamus Cox were among the leading names in that progressive club at the time and they opened many doors for the fledgling body. The late John "Tull" Dunne who was Secretary of Galway Football Board and Central Council delegate also gave tremendous support and co-operation towards the development of Ladies Football not alone in Galway but also re the development of Connacht Council.
Contact was made with other counties who were playing Ladies Football or had an interest in it. Offaly and Tipperary played a leading role in the Associations formation and both had played in the first open draw All Ireland Championship final which Tipperary had won. Two meetings had been held of counties interested and it was decided to officially form a National Ladies Football Association. Mary Nevin of Offaly, who worked in Dublin, acted as Secretary of the organising body which organised the first Open Draw All Ireland Championship. She co-ordinated the first meetings of the body until the Association was officially formed. Brendan Martin a businessman from Offaly agreed to sponsor a Cup for the winners of the All Ireland Championship that would be worthy of All Ireland winners. Jim Kennedy had drafted rules of Ladies Football and they were to be sent to all counties.
It was decided to go to Hayes Hotel, Thurles where the GAA was founded to form the Ladies Football Association in the Autumn of 1974. At that meeting Jim Kennedy of Tipperary was elected Chairman, Frank Kearney of Galway as Vice Chairman, Margaret Colleran of Galway as Secretary, Marie Holland of Roscommon as Assistant Secretary, Brendan Martin of Offaly as Treasurer and Billy Carroll of Kilkenny as Assistant Treasurer. Margaret Colleran and Frank Keamey drafted basic Administrative rules of the Association, and also brought in changes in playing rules to tidy up the game. The new rules meant that the position of National Chairman would become President and that he/she would only serve a maximum of three years. The position of Vice Chairman would be deleted and the Presidents of Provincial Councils would become Vice Presidents of the Association. In the absence of the National President, the President of the Province in question would be in charge on any occasion. It was decided to rotate meetings of Central Council to the various provinces if possible. The changes in playing Rules tidied up the game considerably as the original rules left a considerable amount of rough play. These proposals of Rule changes were put forward to a Central Council meeting and adopted.
It was decided to set up Provincial Councils and to run the Championship on a Provincial basis. A meeting took place in Mountbellew between officials of Galway and Roscommon with a view to setting up Connacht Council. Mayo was also contacted and a Provincial Council was set up in Connacht with Galway, Roscommon and Mayo participating. Officers elected were Chairperson: Linda Colgan, Mayo, Secretary, Marie Holland, Roscommon, Treasurer, Christina Boyle, Galway
Ladies Gaelic Football spread rapidly in Galway city with Inter Firms playing a leading role in its promotion. Margaret Colleran who was a daughter of former Sligo footballer Paddy Colleran and a niece of the legendary Luke Colleran, was the driving force in the promotion of Ladies Football at Inter Firm level. Clubs also developed in many areas but many of these faded after a short time and later, amalgamations saw clubs get stronger.
The Annual General Meeting of 1975 took place in the American Hotel, Eyre Square, Galway on Wednesday, 22nd January 1975. Officers of Galway Co Board elected at that meeting for 1975 were: President: Patsy Conway (Corofin); Chairman: Frank Kearney (Turloughmore); Vice Chairman: Ms Pat Feeney (Fr Griffins); Secretary: Margaret Colleran (Fr Griffins); Assistant Secretary: Dolores Stankard (Cappatagle); Joint Treasurers: Brid O'Brien (Carnmore) and Christina O'Boyle (Corofin); PRO: Ann Finn (Oranmore).
In the first Ladies Gaelic Football Connacht Championship of 1975, Mayo lost to Roscommon and Galway defeated Roscommon in the Connacht Final on a scoreline of 2-1 to 1-3 with Philomena Connolly scoring a goal in the final minutes to give Galway victory. McWalters presented a Cup for the Connacht Championship in 1975 but it was not ready for the Connacht final. The Cup was presented to Galway in the early summer of 1976 for the 1975 Connacht Championship. Galway travelled to Cusack Park, Mullingar to play Cavan in the All Ireland Semi final, where they trounced the Ulster champions and qualified to meet Tipperary in the All Ireland Final. The All Ireland final was played in Athy and Tipperary defeated Galway by 1-4 to 0-0.
The Galway team in that All Ireland Final of 1975 was as follows: Pat Feeney (Galway); Maureen Gannon (Athenry), Margaret Colleran (Galway), Bridie Comer (Corofin); Ann Finn (Oranmore), Mary Mullins (Ballymacward), Bernadette Stankard (Cappatagle); Nono McHugh (capt) (Galway), Marian Forde (Clarenbridge); Christina Boyle (Corofin), Philomena Connolly (Castlegar), Mary Dempsey (Moylough), Marian Farragher (Ballybrit), Nancy Turley (Oranmore), Rosemary Divilly (Galway). Subs: Brid O'Brien (Carnmore); Teresa Bowes (Cappatagle); Miriam Cheevers (Moylough); Kathleen Cronin (Mountbellew); Maureen Shaughnessy (Abbeyknockmoy); Carmel Bracken (Ballymacward).
Fr Griffins GAA Club in Galway city were very helpful in arranging some finance and they were also very supportive in getting the Pearse Stadium committee to allow the Galway team to train and have showers available at the venue. For the 1975 All Ireland final Carnmore native Joe Hanley of Hanley Menswear became the first person to provide sponsorship for a Galway Ladies Football team when he gave togs and socks for the final. Fr Griffin's club player Tom Sands who was a native of Ballygar and won All Ireland Medals with Galway during the three in a row era was called on to train the Galway team in 1975 and he played a major role in helping to county reach the All Ireland Final. Galway reached the National Senior League Final in 1979 but lost out once again to Tipperary.
1976 saw the introduction of a Provincial Under 16 competition as well as the start of an Inter Provincial competition. Connacht played their first Inter Provincial game against Leinster in Garbally College GAA Pitch, Ballinasloe on Sunday, March 7th 1976 at 3-00 p.m. Players and Officials were requested to be in Hayden's Hotel, Ballinasloe at 1-30 p.m. This game ended level and the replay was arranged for Sunday, March 21st 1976 in Ballycumber, Co Offaly at 3-00 p.m. Leinster won that Semi final but Connacht objected and the objection was heard at a meeting of the All Ireland Ladies Gaelic Football Association on Saturday April 3rd 1976 in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel, Athlone at 4-00 p.m.
The Connacht team for the first Interprovincial game was: Olive Duffy (Roscommon); Maureen Gannon (Galway), Kathleen Gannon (Roscommon), Ann Burke (Roscommon); Mary O (Mayo), Mary Mullins (Galway), Bernadette Stankard (Galway); Nono McHugh (Galway), Roseleen Conway (Mayo); Pauleen Finnerty (Mayo), Valerie Collins (Mayo), Nora Burke (Galway); Una Burke (Galway), Marianne Farragher (Galway), Mary Derwin (Roscommon). Subs: Brid O'Brien (Galway); Margaret Colleran (Galway); Ann Finn (Galway); Ann Burke (Mayo); Ann Dolan (Roscommon); Brid Fitzgerald (Mayo).
In the early years clubs were affiliated in Fr Griffins, Annaghdown, Spiddal, Renmore with clubs in areas like Turloughmore, Cappatagle and other areas around the county for a short period of time. Geraldine Burke (Annaghdown), Liam Forde (Renmore), Ann Kearney (Fr Griffin's) and the Curran sisters in Spiddal were by now actively involved and they were instrumental in organising the first ever official Galway Ladies Senior championship in 1977. Fr Griffins defeated Annaghdown in Fahy's Field, Mervue in the final. Griffin's went on to win the Connacht Club title and lost to Newtownshandrum of Cork in the All Ireland Semi final. Fr Griffin's added two more Galway and Connacht titles before they disbanded and reformed under
of Galway Gaels in 1980. Galway Gaels took up where Fr Griffins left off and dominated Galway and Connacht for the next five years. In 1981 Galway Gaels lost the All Ireland final to Watergrasshill from Cork but in 1982 Bernie Stankard captained the Galway side to the county's only All Ireland senior club success defeating Rochfortbridge in the final after beating St Enda's in the Semi final. The following year the Gaels lost to the Heath of Laois and in 1984 Galway Gaels once again defeated St Enda's in the All Ireland Club final only to see their efforts lost through an objection and the title awarded toʻSt Enda's.
In 1983 Mary Dempsey who played with Galway Gaels became Galway's first ever All Star. Galway would not receive any subsequent All Star award until 2003 with Lisa Coohil (Gráinne Mhaols) and Emer Flaherty (Cortoon Shamrocks) being the honoured recipients. In 1985 under the management of Paul McGettigan Galway defeated Cork in the first ever All Ireland Junior Championship Final. Mary Hanley played in that final for Galway and seventeen years later when Galway defeated Donegal to win the West County Cup for the second time Mary's husband John was a selector. At administrative level Galway were further honoured within the Association in 1985 when Barbara Reaney assumed the position of National Secretary. The following year Paul McGettigan led Galway to their first All Ireland Senior Championship semi final appearance since 1975. Unfortunately they came up against the might of All Ireland Champions Kerry whose 8 in-a-row during the 1980's will surely never again be equalled.
Writing in the Galway ladies publication "Retrospective 2003”, present Galway Chairperson Benny Fahy opened his Chairperson's address as follows: “2003, a year that so many players of the past would love to have been part of and I am sure many officers of past County Boards also. As you all know this was our first year in Senior football and this did not come overnight. It was the culmination of years of hard work particularly at underage level. I take great pride at being involved with the U-14 Connacht Championship winners back in 1998 and I can assure you that these were tough times at Executive Committee level as we strove to keep our heads above water. The role of Con Moynihan in all of this was huge because it was he who took all those teams through Under-14, Under-16, Minor and Junior to that historic success in 2002”.
2002 was a landmark year for Galway Ladies Football and it came as no surprise when Con Moynihan was given the Manager of the Year Award at the Supermac's Co. Galway Sports Stars Awards. The panel of judges evaluation of Con's achievement read as follows: “Its been a sensational year for Galway Ladies Football with the County capturing both the All Ireland Minor and Junior Championships in great style. At the coalface of these triumphs was their single minded and ambitious manager Con Moynihan, "who also guided Galway to the Division Two title. At club level, Moynihan also left his mark by guiding St. Brendans to glory in both the Senior and Junior County Championships. He has masterminded the re-emergence of Galway as a power in Ladies Football and was a unanimous choice for the Manager of the Year accolade".
Con Moynihan's contribution to the development and promotion of Galway Ladies Football over the past eighteen years has been immense. Con founded the St. Grellans Club in February 1986 and the following year they contested the Galway Senior Club Championship along with Headford, Killererin and Annaghdown. St. Grellan's who represented Ballinasloe and surrounding areas won the double and went on to dominate the club scene over the next few years. They defeated Pearses (Roscommon) in the 1989 Connacht Senior Club Final before losing the All Ireland Senior Final to Ballymacarbury (Waterford). The following year they retained their Connacht title by defeating Hollymount (Mayo) only to lose out again to Ballymacarbury, this time in the All Ireland Senior Final. Indeed by 1990 St. Grellans was the only affiliated club in existence in the whole of Co. Galway and apart from a few Connemara girls they were effectively the Galway County team also, with not surprisingly Con Moynihan a the helm. Galway overcame the disappointment of losing the 1989 National Junior League Final to Dublin by winning successive Connacht Junior Championships in 1989 and 1990. In 1993 Con moved from Ballinasloe to Ballygar on promotion and in February 1994 he set up the St. Brendans Ladies Football Club.
That club has grown and developed under him. He managed the U-14 teams who won the All Ireland title in 1997 and 1998 (St. Brendan made it a hat trick of Féile titles in 1991). St. Brendans have won County Junior Intermediate and Senior Championships under Con's guidance and in 2001 they became the second Galway Club to win the All Ireland Intermediate Club title when the comprehensively defeated Donnaghmoyne (Monaghan) in the final. At County level, things were at a pretty low ebb during the nineties apart from a Connacht Junior Championship title in 1992 under the management of Liam Forde (Galway also defeated Cork in the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup B Championship final that year). By the mid nineties it was becoming increasingly difficult to get any takers for officerships at County Board level or Managers of County teams.
In 1998 Con Moynihan was persuaded by the County Board to manage all the Galway County teams and that year the County Under-14s won their first ever Connacht title, a title they won four times under his management. This was followed in 1999 by winning the first U-16 Connacht title, again a title they won three times under his management. In 2000 the Junior team under his management were promoted from Division 3 to Division 2 and won their first Connacht title in eight years. They were defeated by Down in the All Ireland final by the narrowest of margins. In 2001 Con masterminded Galway's first ever Connacht Minor title. He enjoyed probably his greatest year ever in 2002 when Galway captured the three national title already mentioned earlier. This was the first time in the history of Ladies Football that all three titles went to the same county. Moynihan managed both the Galway Juniors and Minors in 2004, winning his third Connacht Minor title in the process. At administrative level Con has served as Vice Chairperson of the County Board for a number of years and is currently Chairperson of the National Disciplinary Committee.
At the beginning of the 1990s, when the I.N.T.O./G.A.A. Mini Sevens were in their infancy, only a small number of schools were competing in the Girls' Football section. Schools like Barnaderg, Mountbellew and Brierfield were winners in the early years. In 1993 Cumann na mBunscol Gaillimh inaugurated a new competition for girls. Many of the smaller schools had girls playing on their boys' teams at this stage. The new competition for girls, which attracted thirty teams, consisted of a series of blitzes with schools divided according to size. In the following years this number quickly rose to over fifty. The Cumann na mBunscol ethos of playing for enjoyment ensured that there was always a great spirit of fair play in the competitions. Indeed many teachers are on record as saying that the girls' football blitzes were the highlight of the sporting year. In the early years of the Mini Sevens players were chosen for the exhibition games at Connacht Senior Championship matches. For the first few years it was 'boys only' but following persistent pressure from Cumann na mBunscol, the Connacht Council allowed the girls to participate also. Many of the present Galway All-Ireland winning team represented their schools in Tuam Stadium, McHale Park, Hyde Park, Markievietz Park and Carrick on Shannon. It is interesting to note that Cumann na mBunscol Gaillimh was organising Girls' Football competitions two years before taking over the Boys' Competition from Coiste Peil na nÓg. From a small starting base the competition has continued to grow and in the last school year entries for the Girls' Football competition broke the one hundred mark. Cumann na mBunscol is very proud of the part it has played in the promotion of Girls' Football in the county and like all football followers, was thrilled with Galway's All-Ireland victory in 2004.
Galway hosted Féile in 2003 and Geraldine Giles President of Cumann Peil Gael na mBan had this to say afterwards. “Hearty congratulations to all clubs who participated but most importantly to those of you who accommodated teams and mentors. Féile was a success and I thank you most sincerely on behalf of the Association for your dedication to the event and for you kindness during our visit and to the visiting clubs. On a personal note, I would like to thank the Galway County Board and all the clubs and schools throughout the County who accommodated the visitations in the run up to Féile. It was fantastic to meet so many of the young enthusiastic ladies involved in the game and furthermore it was great to see the growth of underage clubs in the county. The ones that spring to mind at present are St. Furseys, Tuam, Eire Og, Renmore, Claregalway and Naomh Mhuire”.
In 2003 Galway made the long awaited breakthough at Secondary Schools level when Presentation Tuam defeated Colaiste na Sceilige in the All Ireland Senior A final under the management of Tony Lillis. Presentation Tuam also contested the All Ireland Junior A decider losing out to St. Mary's Macroom. Holy Rosary College, Mountbellow under the management of Aidan Donnellan made it an historic double for Galway when they defeated Killorglin in the Senior B final.
The County Board first introduced a competitive structure for underage in 1996. Eight years on the underage scene has become the jewel in the crown of Galway Ladies Football with League and Championship competitions in three different grades at U-12, U-14, U-16 and U-18 level. On the intercounty stage the U-14 Provincial title of 1998 represented the first big breakthrough . Galway won its first ever Connacht U-12 Championship in 2003 under the management of Tom Nestor and we will be going for a historic three in row in 2005 after Mary Walsh's charges retained the title in emphatic style earlier this year. In 2002 Walter Butler lead the Galway U 14s to their first ever All Ireland final and this year he got over heartbreak of two successive Connacht Final defeats by winning the Connacht Blitz. Also in 2002 newly appointed U-16 Manager Pat Costello brought Galway to its first ever All Ireland Final and went one better in 2003 when Galway defeated Cavan in a thrilling All Ireland Final in Longford. Many of the players who ultimately went on to win All Ireland Senior Medals this year under P.J. Fahy served their apprenticeship under Walter Butler and Pat Costelloe. Others were involved with the Galway Juniors in 2003 when they captured an historic first ever Division 3 League title under Pat Gleeson with a comprehensive victory over Cork. A vibrant and competitive club structure within Co. Galway is probably the key to Galway remaining within the higher echelons of Inter County Football for the foreseeable future and this writer would argue that a crucial factor in this year's All Ireland Senior success was the fact that twelve different clubs were represented on that Senior panel. With new clubs coming on stream every year the reservoir of talent for intercounty becomes ever wider and deeper and the potential for All Ireland glory all the greater
In order to fully appreciate Galway's magnificent first ever All Ireland Senior success in 2004 it is important to reflect on the evolution of club structures within the county during the past twelve years not least because the club entity is by far and away the most important institution within the GAA and the very lifeblood of the Association itself. In 1992 Annaghdown reaffiliated and contested the Senior Championship final with St. Grellans. Ten years later they lost out narrowly to Clonbur in the County Intermediate final . Killannin became the first Connemara club to affiliate when they joined in 1993. They won the Junior A Championship in 1996 and 2001 and were also crowned West Galway Senior Champions in 2003. Kilkerrin-Clonberne also affiliated in 1993 and made a major impact over the next few years. They defeated Killannin in the 1995 Senior Shield final, won successive Senior Championships and Leagues in 1996 and 1997 and again in 1999 when under the management of P.J. Rabbitte they went on to defeat Aughawillan (Leitrim) in the Connacht Intermediate Championship final and Cooley Kickams (Louth) in the All Ireland Final. They were allowed to participate at Intermediate level outside the County because Galway had no Senior County team at that time (the same scenario applied the St. Brendans in 2001). In 2000 Kilkerrin-Clonberne were officially graded as the only senior club in Co. Galway and it now became necessary for the County Board to constitute an Intermediate division.
Ladies football spread to South and West Connemara in 1994 with the affiliations of Leitir Mõr and Carna respectively. Leitir Mór made an immediate impact under Cole Kelly's guidance when they won the Senior League and Championship in their first year and subsequently went on to retain their Championship title in 1995. Carna disbanded in 1997 but not before they captured an historic Junior A league title that year having earlier lost out narrowly in the Championship final. North Connemara came on board in 1995 with the affiliation of Clonbur. In 1998 they won they won the Junior A Championship before enjoying their most successful year ever in 2002 when they annexed the West Galway Senior and County Intermediate Championship titles. In 2003 they reached their first ever County Senior Championship final. 1995 was also the year that Ladies Football returned to its roots when Corofin came back on board. In 1999 they won the Junior A Championship and the following year senior status was achieved when they captured the County Intermediate Championship at the first time of asking. Corofin have won successive senior championships in 2003 and 2004 and contested two successive Connacht finals. They were Connacht Senior League winners in 2002 and 2003 and created history last year by becoming the first ever club to win the All Ireland Senior Sevens with a one point victory over Ballymacarbury in an epic final.
1996 saw the re-emergence of St. Marys Killererin. One year later they contested both Junior A finals winning the Championship title in the process. At the time of writing they have qualified to play Dunmore McHales in this year's County Intermediate League final where they will be going for a historic three in a row. Caherlistrane also affiliated in 1996. They currently play at intermediate level having won the Junior A league and Championships titles in 2000. St. Gabriels affiliated in 1997, and made their first significant breakthrough this year when they won the Junior B league. Cortoon Shamrocks also affiliated in 1997 and one year later they reached the County Junior A Championship Final. 1998 heralded the arrival of Glynsk and Dunmore McHales. Galway now had a sufficient number of clubs to justify the constitution of a Junior B Division and Glynsk created history by becoming first ever club to win a Junior B Championship. Dunmore McHales won the Junior B double in 1999 and in 2003 they became the first ever Galway Club to win a Connacht Junior Championship title when they defeated Cloonacool (Sligo) in the final. In 2004 they won the County Intermediate Championship at the first time of asking and will play at Senior level next year.
Ladies Football had been played in Milltown as far back as 1987 when Mary Hernon organised a tournament match between Milltown and Kilconly as part of a local sports day but is was 1998 before a club was formed and affiliated. Milltown lost three successive Junior B Championships finals before finally putting all the heartbreak behind them in 2003 when they defeated Na Piarsaigh in the final. They reached this year's Junior A League and Championship finals and created history last October when they became the first ever Galway club to reach the All Ireland Junior Sevens final where they lost out to Austin Stacks (Kerry). Mountbellow/Moylough affiliated in 1999 and won the Junior B Championship in 2000. Glenamaddy made their entrance in 2000 and captured the 2004 Junior B Championship title earlier this year.
2001 heralded the rebirth of Ladies football in West Connemara when the Gráinne Mhaols club was formed. They won the Junior B double in 2002. Two years later they won the Junior A double and became the second Galway club to win a Provincial Junior title when they defeated Geevagh (Sligo) in the Connacht final. They are also the reigning West Galway Senior League and Championship holders.
Na Piarsaigh also affiliated in 2001 and annexed two West Galway Junior Championships titles in 2003 and 2004. 2001 saw a renaissance of Ladies Football in Galway city with the affiliation of St. Michael's and Salthill. The seasiders achieved Junior A status last year by winning the County Junior B league title. Headford re-entered the Ladies Football area in 2002 when they reaffiliated after a long absence under the name of St. Furseys. Spiddal, Caltra and Eire Og also affiliated in 2002.
In 2003 the rapid growth of Ladies Football within Co. Galway went into overdrive with the arrivals of Barna, Monivea-Abbey, Naomh Mhuire, Claregalway, Tuam and Renmore. Barna
reached the West Junior Final in 2003 and they contested the County Junior B Championship final for the first time. They also hold the honour of being the first ever club to represent Galway in the European Sevens which were held in Marbella earlier this year. By 2004 there were so many clubs in Galway that the County Board deemed it necessary to constitute a Junior C division at adult level and introduce C grade at underage level. The introduction of the above has proved to be a great success facilitating a resurgence of underage football in some of the older clubs and creating better opportunities for county honours among the newer clubs. Monivea-Abbey created history in 2004 when they became the first ever club to win Junior C League and Championship titles defeating St. Michaels in both finals.
South Galway is still pretty much unchartered territory as far as Ladies Football is concerned. Loughrea and Portumna affiliated in 2002 but have since disbanded. The County Board are well aware of the tremendous potential that exists in this region and its Development Officers will be hoping to spread their footballing gospel southwards in years to come.
No treatise of Galway Ladies Football could be complete without reference to administration. Anybody involved in administration will tell you that this is definitely the most difficult and sometimes the most disillusioning aspect of the Association. However, somebody has to do it and to this end Galway Ladies Football has been extremely fortunate in the quality and calibre of its respective administrators over the years. The following people have held the position of Chairperson since 1979; Liam Forde (1979-1984, 1987-1988, 1991-1993), Gerry Guinan (1985), Sean Reynolds (1989-1991), Frank Gallagher (1994), Gerry Coen (1996-1997), J.J. Higgins (1998), Benny Fahy (1999-2004). The following people have held the position of Secretary since 1979, Margaret Colleran (1979-1981), Geraldine Burke (1982), Pauline McEvoy (1985), Mary Reynolds (1987, 1989, 1991), Sean Reynolds (1988), Kathryn Gibbons (1990), Kitty Hoey
(1991), Marie Dolphin (1993), Máire Flaherty (1994-1996, Máire is the only player in Galway ever to win county titles with four different clubs), Marie Reddington (1998), Gerry Guinan (1999), Rita Kearney (2000); Catherine Boland (2001-2002); Mary Hernon (2003-2004). The following people have held the position of Treasurer; Ann Kearney (1982), Patricia Farragher (1985), Sean Roche (1987), Gerry Coen (1994), Margaret Hanley (1997), Margaret Leahy (1999-2003, Philip McDonnell (2004), Robbie Tully (2004).
The present Galway Ladies Football Executive Committee reads as follows:
|Vice Presidents||Mary Devaney|
|Fixtures Secretary||Caitriona Kyne|
|Assistant Secretary||Josephine Mullen|
|Oifigeach na Gaeilge||Pól o Gionnáin|
|Development Officer||Walter Bulter|
|Public Relations Officer||Paul Gannon|
The Fixtures Committee is a sub-committee of the above and this year they implemented a Master Fixtures Plan for the first time ever to enhance the administration of 36 different club competitions. The adult leagues were restructured on a divisional basis with the two league finalists in each respective division being automatically promoted and the bottom two teams being automatically relegated. However, it was agreed at County Board level that only one team would be promoted for championship namely the championship winners. In essence these new competitive structures mean that there is now no relationship between League and Championship re promotion and relegation. It also means that clubs could find themselves playing league and championship football in two different grades in any given year. This scenario will apply to a number of clubs next year, namely Milltown (Division 2 League and Junior A Championship), St. Marys, Killererin (Division 1 League and Intermediate Championship), St. Gabriels (Division 3 League and Junior B Championship), Spiddal and St. Michaels (Division 4 League and Junior C Championship). There is also a possibility that the Underage A and B Leagues will be amalgamated and regionalised next year for the benefit of all the clubs involved not least the alleviation of some of the transport costs.
Ladies Football in Co. Galway is now an expensive business to run and fundraising has become an increasingly important responsibility of the County Board. Furthermore there is now a great onus on the Board to secure long term sponsorship deals to help alleviate costs and to this end the Galway Ladies Football Executive Committee wish to thank the following Sponsors for their generous support of our Club Competitions, Rose Nights and County Teams over the years, Western Hygiene Supplies, Western Print and Packaging, ECC Timber Products, JFC, N17 Electrical, Canada Life, M. G. Steel, Gerry Guinan of Acom Life and Hernon Construction. The profile of Ladies Football within the county is currently at an all-time high and in this regard the Executive Committee would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Jim Carney (Tuam Herald), John McIntyre (Connacht Tribune), Ollie Turner (Galway Bay FM), and TG4. We look forward to the day when we will enjoy parity of esteem with our male counterparts in relation to media coverage but we understand and appreciate that this won't happen overnight.
So what next for Galway Ladies Football? What does the future hold for the fastest growing sport on the emerald isle. We have many aspirations and many challenges ahead not least the creation of an integrated County Board where equality of status and mutual respect are the order of the day. Time for me to sign off but not before I extend a sincere word of thanks and gratitude to Patsy Conway, a man of vision who sowed the seed all those years ago at a carnival in the footballing heartland of Corofin. I don't think even Patsy could have foreseen what was destined to evolve, develop and blossom over the next thirty years as the role and the status of women in Galway sporting society became transformed out of all proportion through involvement and participation in the beautiful game. I am also forever indebted to Frank Kearney and Liam Forde for their invaluable contribution to my retrospective journey.
I leave the last word to Mary Hernon, our representative on the Integration Committee and the most gifted GAA administrator I have ever known. “One of the aims of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association is to assist in promoting community development through its clubs at local and parish level. We are now in an age when this is more important than ever as is the need for healthy outdoor activity for our young people, both male and female. Galway is one of the pilot counties in the Integration Scheme. With the publicity given to the issue of the County Final and the Ladies All Ireland one may be forgiven for thinking that this is a lost cause, but on the ground in all of the clubs around this county, integration is well and truly the order of the day. My vision for the next ten years is that we will have a Ladies Club in every parish that has a G.A.A. club and football for all our young ladies as well as our young men.
Pól Ő Gionnáin
Oifigeach Caidrimh Poiblí Cumann Peil na mBan na Gaillimhe