CORK’S U14 All-Ireland winning success would have not have been possible without a mammoth effort from the Rebel management team including Allie Murray and Louise Phelan.
Murray, Phelan, Cathal O’Callaghan and Darragh Farr put in countless hours behind the scenes to ensure Cork’s U14 players were always the best prepared, both physically and mentally, for the numerous challenges faced en-route to All Ireland glory.
Add in Dominic Gallagher, Peter O’Leary and Ephie Fitzgerald’s combined experiences of winning LGFA club and inter-county silverware and the 2019 Rebel backroom team were amongst the most experienced in the country.
Allie Murray and Louise Phelan’s contributions proved equally significant.
At a time when girls of all ages are turning up play GAA football for their local clubs in greater numbers, Cork GAA badly needs an influx of similar female talent both in coaching and administrative roles to meet the growing demands.
As current Cork GAA Chairperson, Tracey Kennedy represents a shining example to every other county board in the country of what a qualified, confident and respected woman can achieve at administrative level.
Yet the truth is that the majority of Cork LGFA (similar to every other county) sidelines and committees remain dominated by male coaches and mentors at both club and inter-county level. That is what made Allie Murray and Louise Phelan’s presence in the Cork U14 set up all the more pleasing and the fact they contributed to an All-Ireland winning setup.
“The coaches never missed one night (of training) in the last year and a half,” Cork U14 mentor Louise Phelan commented.
“We have been at it, hard work, for over a 18 months. All that effort paid off for those girls in the All-Ireland final. We really didn’t meet anyone as good as us the whole way through this tournament. The enjoyment we get out if is seeing their girls get their success. (The thought of) no more text messages or a phone call at 7.30am in the morning is great feeling too though!
“Pitch availability, parents transporting their children to and from training and matches week after week plus car pooling meant everyone was always on time for their training sessions. No one complained when training went over time be it on a school night, weekend or on a Bank Holiday.
“I was saying it when we were all out on the pitch together taking photos with the All-Ireland Cup that these girls will never forget this day,” noted fellow Cork mentor Allie Murray.
“It is an All-Ireland medal and that cannot be taken away from them. They have this memory now. It is great result for the girls who showed a great attitude and spirit throughout the year.
“They got their reward for all that hard work and we are delighted for them. It is great to see such a spread of players involved in the Cork squad from all four divisions and evenly spread. That’s important for all the younger players in those divisions too as they see their club players representing Cork and being a good influence.”
The time and effort needed to attend weekly training sessions and weekend matches or blitzes over an 18-month spell represented a phenomenal commitment from Cork’s U14 inter-county players. That dedication was matched by the Rebel’s management team since they and their squad first entered the U13 inter-county squad before moving on to the U14 setup this past year.
“Hard work always pays off,” Louise Phelan concluded.
“For these girls, from the very start back in June 2018, it has been a case of training and playing twice a week, every week, grafting, travelling, training, keeping fit, eating well and wanting it (success). The girls were absolutely fantastic and modest in their own abilities throughout the tournament.
“It has been a pleasure to support them from the sidelines and sorting whatever they needed in terms of food, buses or whatever. I have to say that this bunch of Cork U14 girls is highly appreciative of the help and support they received and not one bit cocky.”
Allie Murray and Louise Phelan were rewarded for their efforts by playing significant roles in a successful Cork LGFA All-Ireland U14 Platinum campaign. In helping some of their county’s brightest talents the aforementioned duo underlined the need for more female mentors, coaches and administrators to step up to the plate in the coming years.
2019 Cork LGFA U14 squad: Caoimhe Richmond (Glanmire), Eimear O’Sullivan (Carrigaline), Sophie Collins (Kinsale), Abbie Hoare (Bride Rovers), Ava Barry (Bride Rovers), Chloe McGrath (Shamrocks), Ciara O’Brien (Éire Óg), Fiona Twohig (Valley Rovers), Grace Cooney (Mourneabbey), Jane Savage (Youghal), Katie O’Driscoll (Clonakilty), Lia Heffernan (St Marys), May Collins (Aghada), Millie Condon (Clonakilty), Molly Burke (Mourneabbey), Nora Falvey (Cloyne), Shauna Sheehan (Éire Óg), Keelin Murphy (Ilen Rovers), Lily Murray (Bride Rovers), Lisa Hartnett (Fermoy), Maria Murphy (Donoughmore), Alex Cashman (Youghal), Alison O’Keeffe (Grenagh), Ava Healy (Kilshannig), Caoimhe McEvoy (Clonakilty), Ciara Morrison (Bride Rovers), Ciara White (Clonakilty), Eabha Curran (Nemo Rangers), Ella Downey (Bantry Blues), Grace Nagle (Mallow), Grace Rooney (Inch Rovers), Jane Devlin (Cobh), Lia Hogan (O’Donovan Rossa), Megan O’Shea (Grenagh), Saoirse Foley (Banteer), Sarah McSweeney (Gabriel Rangers), Siofra Patwell (Clonakilty) and Tara Hickey (Inch Rovers).
2019 Cork LGFA U14 Management Team: Dominic Gallagher (Manager, Mourneabbey), Peter O’Leary (Inch Rovers), Allie Murray (Bride Rovers), Ephie Fitzgerald (Nemo Rangers), Cathal O’Callaghan, Louise Phelan (Youghal) and Darragh Farr (Dohenys).