Cork has a rich tradition of supplying leaders of camogie

Cork has a rich tradition of supplying leaders of camogie
Joan O'Flynn cuts the ribbon to open the new Cork Camogie Grounds in Castle Road.

WITH the Camogie Congress deferred due to the Covid-19 crises, the election for the president of the Association has been put on hold.

The two candidates in the running to succeed Kathleen Woods are Hilda Breslin, Kildare and Wexford’s Ailish Whitty.

The Camogie Association has had 30 presidents since its foundation, including two Life Presidents and Cork has more than played its part in supplying excellent leaders for the strongest women’s sport in the country.

There have been five presidents from Cork clubs, whilst two Cork natives lead the association under the banner of their adopted counties.

History and tradition has always played a huge role in sport and camogie is no exception since 1935 some wonderful people have lead the way with the huge honour of Life Presidency bestowed on Professor Agnes O’Farrelly and Sheila McAnulty in recognition of their unique contribution to the Camogie Association.

The first Cork native to hold the role of President was Lil Kirby elected in 1942.

Lil grew up on the Model Farm Road and was educated at St. Aloysius School.

She captained UCC to Ashbourne Cup success in 1936 and enjoyed a wonderful playing career.

A regular on Cork teams from 1934 to 1941 she won six All-Ireland senior medals and led the county to success in 1940.

She was the first woman to chair the Cork Camogie Board and the county benefited from her leadership.

She was elected President of the Camogie Association at a time when two sides came together following a split over the hockey ban.

After marriage Lil became Lil Crowley and she settled in Bandon.

She was also a top class swimmer and she passed away 1987 at the age young age of 66.

Ballinora-native, Sheila Horgan carried on the Cork tradition of leading the association taking over the mantle in 1946.

She kept Mid-Cork faithful to the Camogie Association during the years that the Cork County Board was on the outside.

She organised the Mid Cork divisional board providing competition for the clubs involved.

She was vice-chairman of the Cork County Board prior to Cork’s abstention she served as secretary of Munster Council for two years.

She was a key player on the Ballinora team which won the Cork junior championship in 1934.

Her brother Jim played full-back for the Cork senior hurling team.

In 1965 Lil O’Grady took over as President.

She was born in Sligo and on moving to Cork she played with St Aloysius School Old Aloysians and the Cork schools team.

Lil refereed the 1969 All-Ireland senior final, her late father Michael played football for Leitrim and was vice-chairman of the Sligo GAA Board.

Her sister Jo was a regular for Cork and Munster.

Lil served in several positions on the Cork Board including chairperson and led Munster Council for 12 years.

She chaired Munster Colleges Council and was President of the All-Ireland Colleges.

Now, Lil O’Neill resides in Ballinlough and still has a huge love for camogie.

Mary Moran moved to Cork with her family at the age of 11 having been born in Limerick.

Mary Moran with the then Lord Mayor Tom O Driscoll at the launch of her publication The history Of Cork Camogie in 2000.
Mary Moran with the then Lord Mayor Tom O Driscoll at the launch of her publication The history Of Cork Camogie in 2000.

She won Cork and Dublin championship medals with Old Aloysians and Celtic (Dublin) and an All-Ireland senior medal with Cork and club All-Ireland with Celtic.

Mary chaired the Cork Camogie Board from 1968 to 1978 and coached Cork to win All-Ireland minor, junior and senior titles.

Elected President of the Camogie Association in 1979 Mary was secretary of Munster and All-Ireland Colleges for thirty-two years and served as President of the All-Ireland Colleges’.

She also filled the roles of National Coach, National PRO, inter-county referee and Trustee.

An avid collector of camogie material and memorabilia, she has built up a considerable stockpile over the years and has written some wonderful publications on camogie including the superbly written History of Cork Camogie.

Maire Ní Cheallacháin better known as Mary O’ was elected president in 1988.

She was a well-known and colourful character.

Maire played with Lee Valley but joined Inniscarra when the club was formed in her parish.

She chaired the Cork Board 1980-1985 and Munster Council 1985-1987 and was a member of successful Cork selection committees.

Maire passed away in 1992 but her legacy lives on with the Inniscarra camogie grounds named Pairc Maire Ní Cheallacháin in her memory.

Two Cork-born ladies also led the Association under the banners of their adopted counties.

Nell McCarthy from Carrigtwohill, had an uncle Jimmy ‘Major’ Kennedy who captained Cork to win the 1919 senior All-Ireland.

Dan, her brother wore the Cork jersey and her grand-nephew Niall won two All-Ireland senior medals.

Nell joined the civil service in Dublin and helped make Celtic into a great club she chaired the Dublin board and was best known for her coaching ability she guided the great Dublin teams of the fifties and sixties.

Nell was elected President of the Camogie Association in 1971 but only served two years of her term of office.

She made a huge contribution to the game and passed away in 2009.

A native of Ladysbridge, Joan O’Flynn became the first President-Elect of the Camogie Association in 2008 under the banner of here adopted county Kildare.

Her father, Séamus Ó Floinn, was a well-known administrator with the Imokilly Divisional Board and the Cork GAA Board.

Joan helped Fr O’Neill’s win the Cork junior championship before moving to London and then returning to Kildare for employment where she served in various roles on the Kildare and Leinster council.

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