Cork ladies football is flourishing at club and county level

Cork ladies football is flourishing at club and county level
Rachel Kearns of MacHale Rovers in action against Aisling Barrett of Donoughmore. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

OUTGOING Cork ladies football chairman Robbie Smyth paid tribute to the county’s clubs as ladies football continues to flourish throughout the county.

The Carrigaline GAA clubman’s three-year tenure came to an end with Neilus Carroll taking over the role after defeating Tom Scally by a single vote at the organisation’s AGM this past month.

16 years involved with the county executive, Smyth was honoured to hold the position of Chairman, presiding over huge success at club level and Cork’s inter-county resurgence under senior manager Ephie Fitzgerald.

Understandably, it wasn’t all plain sailing yet the joy of witnessing Cork’s club’s win All-Ireland titles more than made up for some difficult times.

“After going through such a hard year, putting in a lot of my time and effort, I’ll admit that sometimes the negatives overtook the positives of the job,” Robbie Smyth told The Echo.

“To be present in Limerick as the Cork LGFA Chairman on the Saturday night Mourneabbey won another All-Ireland title was amazing. The football they played was outstanding and their win fully deserved. You must take your hat off to them.

“The same goes for Donoughmore. I also travelled to Galway for their (All-Ireland) final and again, what an exciting game of football that was. Even the neutrals in attendance were thrilled with such a tight, hard-fought game. The two sets of supporters added to the occasion as they were loud, noisy and reacting to everything that happened out on the pitch.

“For Donoughmore, to concede an equaliser in the dying seconds before digging deep and lifting themselves in extra-time to win it was something special. Rena Buckley deserved her player of the match award as she was outstanding. What a servant she has been to her club and county.

“It was a fantastic occasion for ladies football, not just Cork ladies football, and a privilege to be there. It is those kinds of occasions when you get to see the best that we have to offer out on the pitch, that made being Cork chairman worthwhile.”

Smyth also took time to pay tribute to a third Cork GAA club, Inch Rovers, who came up short in their attempts to claim All-Ireland glory. The Munster Intermediate champions lost to Offaly’s Naomh Ciarán in the All-Ireland semi-final but impressed the outgoing Cork LGFA Chairman with the quality of their football.

“Inch Rovers had a terrific year and how great it was to see one of our clubs go all the way in Munster and become provincial champions?” Smyth added.

“Inch are a terrific example to all ladies football clubs. They have shown other clubs what is needed to get to the top. Like everything else, no club stays there forever, players come and go, and underage talent can fluctuate.

“When things weren’t going Inch’s way, they kept working and maintained that work rate on and off the pitch. Winning a county intermediate title and then going on to win Munster was fantastic. Inch were very unlucky not to qualify for an All-Ireland final, especially the fact they took their opponents to extra-time only to lose by a couple of points. They weren’t far off it at all and should look back on the past year with immense pride.”

Off the field, Smyth’s fellow committee members helped their outgoing Chairman during a hectic period.

“I have been involved with the Cork executive for 16 years and seen lots of changes,” Smyth commented.

“So, I need to say a special thanks to all the people that have helped and supported me, especially as Chairman over the last three years. The executive I’ve been working with, they have been hugely helpful to me. I must make special mention of Marian Crowley who has done an enormous amount of work for the Cork LGFA. Marian is always very professional and gets things done. I worked very well with her and together I feel that Marian and I achieved a lot in the past three years.

“From my own personal point of view, there has been a huge amount of work completed at committee level during my time as Chairman. They (committee members) were always very positive and hard working. I believe we have helped develop a structure for Cork ladies football to move on and improve over the coming years.

“When things aren’t going so well, there are now structures put in place to deal with any future issues that arise and that won’t have a negative effect on ladies football.”

The ladies football club scene in Cork has never been more vibrant and something Robbie Smyth believes is testament to the rise in playing numbers at underage level.

“The Cork ladies football club scene is flying at the moment and looks like it is going to get even better over the coming years, which is important,” Smyth added.

“Developing players is what it is all about. Working with the underage development setups in each of the divisions and clubs as well as educating all the people that are putting in all the hard work on the ground.

“Cork LGFA needs to continue to help our coaches improve their skills, be more professional and in turn that will improve our county’s players. Training sessions need to become more structured and help the development of the young players taking part, but the future certainly looks bright when you see the calibre of player coming through.”

The Cork ladies football club scene is flying at the moment and looks like it is going to get even better over the coming years, which is important

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