RECORD numbers of Éire Óg underage players have returned to training as the Muskerry club looks towards a bright future.
A thriving underage setup continues to feed Éire Óg’s successful minor and senior panels.
An increasing number of players signing up to wear the famous red and yellow jersey bodes well for the Ovens-based club’s future.
“We have approximately 340 players playing in 10 different age groups from minor down to U6,” Éire Óg LGFC Chairperson Reg Halligan said.
“Our U14 and U16s were the first ones to return to training after the restrictions were lifted but it was great to see girls from all the different age groups back.
“As for our huge playing numbers, there are a number of factors behind that. Firstly, we are a young club and only in existence since 2003.
“There is a lovely energy around our club and always has been. That comes from the top of the club down.
“We have club hashtags that we use on social media all the time like #wearefamily and #youareenough.
“The club has teams for all levels and every player, no matter what their ability, is always a player to us.
“People recognise that about our club and appreciate the fact Éire Óg’s focus is on the player.”
Reg Halligan admits that the Éire Óg ladies football club is fortunate to have access to top class facilities at their Ovens base.
The LGFC portion of Éire Óg would not be able to function without access to the requisite number of pitches and support from the GAA club itself.
“We are blessed and club chairman Pat Malone has always been extremely generous to us,” Halligan said.
“Pat has been hugely helpful to us and the ladies football club has always had a good rapport with him and the GAA side of the things.
“The lines of communication are open at every level between the two clubs as well as parents and coaches.
“We have been fortunate to enjoy success at Cork LGFA underage level over the past number of years.
“There are a number of reasons for that but one is the fact the coaches who started out training the girls at U8 are still with them today.
“That continuity has helped build a trust between the coaches and players over the years.
“The buy-in from parents has been equally important be it just attending matches or when it comes to fundraising.
“There is always a good vibe on the sidelines during our matches and that’s why the club has built a good reputation.
It is a bit clichéd but it’s a team effort between players, coaches and parents. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and we have a lot of good eggs in Éire Óg.”
At senior level Éire Óg remain perennial challengers to the top two teams in the Cork LGFA SFC, West Cork and Mourneabbey.
That’s down to a conveyor belt of talent coming through the underage ranks resulting a young senior team hoping to bridge the gap to the top two in the coming years.
Eimear Scally is one the club’s most recognisable talents, an inter-county All-Ireland winner who remains a huge part of Éire Óg.
“I think young girls are particularly influenced by older girls when it comes to sport,” Reg Halligan commented.
“Éire Óg’s senior players are very much involved with coaching younger age groups including the U6 and U7s.
“Eimear (Scally) is brilliant in that regard in that she gets involved in loads of things around the club whenever she has the chance.”