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Decade After Being Founded, Cloyne Taste First Ladies Football Success

Decade After Being Founded, Cloyne Taste First Ladies Football Success

Mary O'Brien heard a story recently. Two girls, just in the junior infants door in Cloyne, were sitting next to each other in class. They quickly found common ground.

"My mammy plays football," said one. "And my mammy plays football," replied the other.

"When I was growing up, my mother didn't play football or any other sport," O'Brien tells Balls.

Ten years ago, O'Brien and others founded a ladies football club in Cloyne. The East Cork village would be better known for its hurling exploits. Christy Ring, Donal Óg Cusack and Diarmuid O'Sullivan all hail from there.

Earlier this month, the club's first adult team - in its first season - won the Cork LGFA Junior C title when they beat another fledgling adult team, Ibane Gaels.

"It was a great win, a huge achievement for a club like us," says O'Brien.

"When we started back in 2010, we had one team, our under 12s with 20 players.

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"There was a few of us that had children that age. Rather than them playing for the other other clubs in the area, we decided, why not give it a go?

"When we started back in 2010, 2011, 2012, we got into the local school. And that's where the girls got to find out about ladies football because in the village of Cloyne, it was all hurling. There was nothing for the girls unless you went Irish dancing.

"We played certain teams through the years and they always beat us and you'd say 'How can you turn around and face them again the next day?'

"I tell the kids a story that when I played basketball, we didn't win a match for five years. We kept going and we won eventually. There has been challenging times with numbers in particular and girls falling away but you try to get them back."

The Cloyne side which defeated Ibane 2-10 to 1-5 featured nine or so players from the that original U12 team. Players aged in range from 16 to 40.

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"The committee, last year or the year before, sat down and said, 'Look, we can't be losing these girls that we put hours and hours of work into and then at 16, lose them'," O'Brien says.

"Some phone calls were made and a couple of that U12 team came back, new members came. Today we have 33 on the panel.

"We had our first game on March 6th. We had new jerseys and we were all ready to go and the next Covid restrictions came in.

"Setting up the junior panel this year was kind of like a stepping stone for next year. We'd no expectations at all. We were going to build the panel.

"They're an inspiration now. Taylor Murphy is captain. The young girls met her out on the street, [and said] 'I'm going to be you in a couple of years time'. We have somewhere for the young girls to progress to, we're not losing them to other adult clubs in the area."

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The club now has 153 registered members and five juvenile teams. They use the facilities of Cloyne GAA. Together, the two clubs have started a Gaelic games nursery for boys and girls aged four to six.

"The future looks bright," O'Brien says.

"We've got people who work behind the scenes. I'm a committee member. I look after all the gear, I do the jerseys.

"Next year, we're hoping to have an U21 team, maybe a minor team, depending on what the circumstance would be.

"When I was growing up, it was always a hurley and sliotar that the kids had, the boys in particular. Now the girls are going to the field with a football."

See Also: Six Of The Best Club GAA Commentary Moments Of The Year

best local gaa commentary moments 2020

PJ Browne
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