Douglas ladies football club work to cope with huge demand from U6 up

Since its foundation in 2008, there has been increased participation every year and considerable effort to accommodate every team
Douglas ladies football club work to cope with huge demand from U6 up

Laura O'Brien, Douglas, on the ball in last year's Cork LGFA Junior A final. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

FORMED in 2008, a constant demand for training and playing facilities is nothing new for Douglas ladies football club.

In terms of success, last season ultimately proved a disappointing one for a Douglas’ adult team who reached the 2020 Cork JAFC county decider.

An opening-round loss to Dohenys (0-9 to 1-8) was followed by a string of notable county championship victories.

Abhainn Dalla (4-13 to 0-12), Naomh Abán (2-15 to 1-9), Valley Rovers (1-10 to 2-5) and Dromtarriffe were all dispatched prior to a deserved county final appearance.

Valley Rovers were Douglas’ opponents in the final where the Brinny club gained revenge for their earlier championship defeat.

Inspired by Cork seniors Dara and Eimear Kiely, Rovers ran out deserving 2-17 to 2-3 winners.

Despite falling at the final hurdle, a talented Douglas panel will once again start the next junior A football county championship as one of the competition’s main contenders.

“We have a strong adult team with big numbers involved,” Douglas LGFA secretary Eamonn Murphy said.

“A lot of the players currently playing in that squad enjoyed success at minor and U21 level in recent years.

“There are a lot of good players coming through which is fantastic for a club only in existence since 2008. There is a great coaching team involved and led by Kieran McCarthy.”

Interestingly, last year saw a spike in the number of new club members signing up to play ladies football for Douglas.

It was the same for a lot of other city clubs with many families searching for additional sporting outlets as their younger children’s options were restricted due to lockdowns.

“We cater for girls aged 6 and upwards,” Eamonn Murphy said.

“Our club is divided into three sections: Street Leagues (U6 to U10), U11 to U16 and then our minors to adult, including U21. In terms of numbers, according to the official registration printed at the Cork convention each year, Douglas has just shy of 500 active members.

“We would have seen a big jump in club membership over the last couple of years. There was a particularly massive jump last year.

“That would have been to do with a surge in the number of U6s signing up. It was the same for a lot of other clubs too, from speaking with other club secretaries. We now have close to 90 U6s playing ladies football for Douglas.

“A lot of indoor sports including gymnastics, swimming and basketball were put on hold last year.

“That resulted in a big take-up in ladies football because it was an outdoor sport and non-contact training was possible.”

Apart from those impressive numbers playing football at Douglas’ youngest grade, the progressive club is also catering for approximately 30 players at each of their older grades up to U16.

CHALLENGES

Yet, dealing with those large playing numbers brings the constant pressure of having suitable facilities available to train in or host matches. Eamonn Murphy admits it is a constant issue that Douglas LGFA faces each and every year.

“Between all of our teams, the membership is absolutely huge but as for ladies football, the biggest issue remains pitch access.

That’s why the club is fortunate to have such great support from Douglas Community School. Pat Barry is the school’s principal and has been fantastic to us.

“He allows Douglas LGFA to use the school’s main school pitch and we also use another pitch for our street league grades. It is a fantastic facility because it is all enclosed and we have parking facilities as well.

“Three or four of the club’s teams also use Tramore Valley Park for some of their training sessions.

“Our junior teams have access to Redmonds GAA pitch as well. Obviously, use of all these facilities comes at a cost. So, we have to fundraise quite a bit to meet the cost of pitch rental.”

Yet, despite all those overheads and pitch demands, Douglas LGFA continues to thrive. None of that would be possible, however, without the club’s excellent relationship with Douglas GAA.

“Douglas GAA club have always been very good to us even though they have the same kind of demands on their own playing facilities,” Murphy added.

“To be fair to them, they have always accommodated us whenever we have asked to play a big ladies football game there.

“We are extremely grateful for that. Whenever we have need them they have been there for us.”

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