NORTH Cork ladies football club Knocknagree is building towards a brighter future thanks to an all-female committee’s hard work.
Founded on April 11, 2011, Knocknagree LGFA continues to develop a growing number of players in the U8, U10, U12, U14, U16 and minor grades.
New Cork LGFA Secretary Catherine Ring founded the club over a decade ago and developed it from humble beginnings to over 100 active players in 2021.
Impressively, Knocknagree currently has an all-female committee working diligently behind the scenes to keep the North Cork club on its upward trajectory.
Chairperson: Anna Marie Looney, Vice Chair: Nora O’Mahony, Secretary: Maria Doyle, Vice Secretary: Sinead Horgan, Treasurer: Tracy O’Sullivan, Vice Treasurer: Mairead Fleming, Children’s Officer: Maura O’Mahony, Registrar: Lorna Cronin, Gear Sales: Danielle O’Connor, Fundraising Officer: Katie Ring, Fundraising Committee: Katie Ring, Ava Looney, Katie Horgan, Brid O’Connor, PRO: Ava Looney and County board delegate: Sarah Dineen make up the Knocknagree committee.
“There are so many reasons I adore this club,” Knocknagree PRO Ava Looney told The Echo.
“Donal Doherty came on board as our new (junior) manager last year and made a huge difference. He pushed us but made sure we remembered that enjoying ourselves is the main thing. Everyone in the club knows each other but new faces are always welcome. We are here to enjoy and play ladies football to the best of our ability.”
Donal Doherty’s decision to take over the Knocknagree junior ladies did indeed prove a productive move. From day one, the former Kerry LGFA senior inter-county and Killarney club senior county winning manager (2018) enjoyed working with an enthusiastic group.
“I work with a couple of the Knocknagree players' parents in Liebherr Container Cranes Ltd in Killarney and that’s where an opportunity to get involved with the club came up," Doherty told.
“I would have come across a good few of the players as Kerry LGFA Development Officer so it was an easy decision. The club scene in Cork is extremely competitive too and I wanted an opportunity to challenge myself there.”
Doherty’s arrival coincided with a marvellous run for Knocknagree in the 2020 Cork LGFA junior E championship. A narrow 1-point loss to Naomh Fionnbarra preceded victories over Carrigtwohill, Dripsey and Bandon. The latter pushed Knocknagree all the way before succumbing to a one-point defeat.
That setup a semi-final clash with Macroom but unfortunately, the North Cork club was unable to replicate their previous championship displays and an Erika O’Shea-inspired Macroom went through to the county final.
“Our players were absolutely brilliant last year," Donal Doherty admitted.
“We introduced video analysis, GPS tracking and strength and conditioning programmes. They adapted to those superbly and we were going really well until covid intervened. That break in between didn’t help us. We suffered two cruciate ligament injuries which also hampered our progress.
“It was a fantastic achievement to get to the county semi-finals. We pushed eventual county champions Naomh Fionnbarra all the way and unlucky to lose by a point in the first round.
“Facing Macroom in the semi-finals, one of our players, Danielle O’Connor suffered a cruciate injury inside the first two minutes. Danielle was marking Cork senior Erika O’Shea and she went on to absolutely destroy us after that.”
Despite falling at the second last hurdle, it is clear the foundations are in place to ensure Knocknagree challenge for honours once again in 2021.
"The club is only 10-years-old and all the girls that were there at the beginning with Catherine Ring are only in their 20s now,” Doherty added.
“We have a very young panel but a five-year development plan in place to have those girls playing junior A by the time they reach their mid-20s. That plan also involves all our underage coaches teaching our youngest players how to solo and kick with both feet.
“The club is going in the right direction which is the most important thing. I have to mention Catherine Ring too as without her the club would never have gotten off the ground.”
Knocknagree is a club on a mission. Executing their five-year plan to move up the junior Cork LGFA ranks looks attainable with an all-female committee and dedicated group of coaches.