Cobh ladies football club building on its strengths as playing numbers rise

Pool of talent at U12 and U14 bodes well for the future
Cobh ladies football club building on its strengths as playing numbers rise

The Cobh ladies football U14 panel and their mentors.

COBH LGFA was founded as recently as 2004 but is eager to build on its underage successes ahead of a return to on-field action.

Cobh LGFA is a ladies’ football outlet for young girls in the local area.

It took time and patience, but building on Rushbrooke’s, Walterstown’s and St Mary’s national schools’ Sciath Na Scoil successes, Cobh LGFA’s new committee applied for the ‘Gaelic 4 Girls’ (G4G) programme, resulting in 110 participants and 75 new club members by the end of 2015.

Since then, the fledgling club has done its best to retain playing numbers, despite stiff competition from other sports. “Cobh would always have been predominantly a football and hurling sporting area, so it took a while for a ladies’ football club to get going,” Cobh LGFA’s John Mackessey said.

“It was only when primary schools in the area began to enjoy success at Sciath Na Scoil level that things began to happen,” Mackessey said. “I had daughters involved and ended up helping Fr Liam Kelleher with the coaching side of things in 2015. I’ve been involved ever since.”

Cobh’s underage record shows the club is moving in the right direction. Success will not be measured on the number of trophies, but in the number of players retained from U14 to minor.

The blueprint is there, when you consider the amount of finals Cobh has played in and won over the past five years.

Cobh claimed the 2016 U14 East Cork D League (the club’s first title) and U14 East Cork C Championship in 2016.

They followed up with East Cork C League, D Championship, and U13 Community Games successes a year later. In 2018, Cobh were crowned U14 C county champions and added East Cork C and D League titles.

2019 delivered U14 D League Plate and U14 East Cork B Féile triumphs, before Covid-19 ended every club’s 2020 aspirations. “What we encountered in 2020 created a lot of barriers to our return to play ambitions,” John Mackessey said.

“The club required a lot of extra assistance, such as appointing Covid-19 supervisors, to ensure our teams could return to the training pitch in a safe manner.

“We were absolutely delighted with the response we got,” Mackessey said. “A huge amount of parents and club members came forward to ensure Cobh strictly adhered to all the Covid-19 guidelines. It was imperative to get the girls back playing, but only when it was safe.

“This also resulted in one of the best-attended AGMs in the club’s history. Many parents stepped forward to take up various roles on the committee. Many of our junior (adult) players also took positive action and volunteered for key positions, such as the club secretary and PRO roles.

“It was refreshing to witness the reaction Cobh LGFA got in the middle of a crisis. It brought the best out of people in the local area who came together for the good of our young footballers. Now, Cobh ladies’ football club is in a position to drive on and look forward to returning to the field of play.”


At adult level, Mackessy coached Cobh in this past season’s 13/15-a-side A football championship. Despite five losses, Cobh had plenty of combative displays and a 5-3-to-1-5 win over Shamrocks.

“Last year was a bit of a struggle at times, but understandable, with so many of our girls at college and having jobs to work around,” Mackessy said. “Trying to fit in our fixtures was difficult, but we just didn’t have enough training done to make an impact. The girls tried their best in every game, but came up against some very talented teams, like Cloyne, who went on to beat Ibane in the final.

Looking ahead to this year, I’m more worried about losing players than losing any matches, to be honest. 

"In 2020, we lost a lot of players who weren’t comfortable playing during Covid, which is completely understandable.

“On the positive side, the pool of talented young footballers living in and around the Cobh area is humongous. We had 35 players at the U14 age group last year and our U12s had similar numbers. We just need to promote ladies’ football a bit better in the area to make sure we hold on to those players in future years.”

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