Academy approach sees Ballincollig Ladies Football numbers explode 

Aileen O'Flynn explains to John Bohane how the club has 50% more players registered in just three seasons
Academy approach sees Ballincollig Ladies Football numbers explode 

Coaches Caitriona MacManamon, Treasa O'Mahony and Tara O'Neill training girls at the Ballincollig Ladies Football Academy. Picture: Gavin Browne

BALLINCOLLIG Ladies Football GAA Club celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this year.

The ladies football club is a vibrant club with a growing membership who seem well poised to enjoy a very successful future.

Club chairperson Aileen O’Flynn who has served in a number of administrative roles within the club loves her role with the progressive club.

“This is my second year as chairperson. I have been involved in the club for a good number of years. I previously served as a PRO and secretary. I love it.”

Ballincollig LGFA was established on Valentine’s Day in 2001 and they have made substantial progress since.

“We started off initially with one adult team. We had a number of teachers from other counties who were keen to play football while they were living locally.

“They had good early success as they won a county title not long after the club was founded. The club kept growing on a yearly basis, but the growth of the club in recent years has been incredible.

“In the last three years, it has just exploded. There has been nearly a 50% increase in playing numbers. Our numbers at U12 level have increased by 80% in the last three years.”

Girls training at the Ballincollig Ladies Football Academy in 2018, a scheme that introduced a number of youngsters to the sport. Picture: Gavin Browne
Girls training at the Ballincollig Ladies Football Academy in 2018, a scheme that introduced a number of youngsters to the sport. Picture: Gavin Browne

Ballincollig have teams in the adult grade across junior, U21 and minor, while they field teams at every grade in the underage grades.

“We didn’t field a junior team for a few years, but we have re-established a team once again in recent years. We are always seeking new players.

“Joining the local football club is a great way to get involved in the local community and make friends. We are also fielding both U21 and minor teams, while we are fielding a number of teams across the underage section.

“We have won titles in every grade. The minor team won three successive titles in recent years.

“A number of our players have also had the proud honour of playing for Cork. 

"We started a Gaelic for Girls Academy a few years ago where we targeted all the local primary schools. We held a camp for five weeks. That was a huge turning point for us. The numbers have increased hugely since then.”

The ambitious club can call upon an array of dedicated volunteers who help to develop the players’ skills.

“We are very lucky to have big numbers of volunteers helping out. We have a number of club personnel who have gone on to coach the various Cork underage football teams.

“We really encourage the parents to get involved. They really support all the good work we are doing as a club. It is great to have them involved.

“They play a huge part in the continued success of the club.”

Ballincollig players and mentors with Sean Quish, owner of Quish's SuperValu, Ballincollig. Included is Aileen O'Flynn, back left. Picture: Tom Doherty
Ballincollig players and mentors with Sean Quish, owner of Quish's SuperValu, Ballincollig. Included is Aileen O'Flynn, back left. Picture: Tom Doherty

O’Flynn is part of a very strong club committee that is constantly seeking to drive the club on, both off and on the pitch.

“We have a fantastic committee. They are all so hardworking and committed to driving the club on. We all get on great. It is all about the players and making sure they are enjoying their sport.

“There is a lovely feeling to the club. Winning is not the main priority for us. We want to keep the girls involved and enjoying playing.”

The playing numbers at underage football in the club are truly staggering.

“We have about 40 players playing on each team from our U6 team-up. We are fielding three teams at U14 level, while this year we will be fielding four teams at U12 level.

There was huge excitement recently when all the club players resumed training with the club following the easing of restrictions nationwide.

The club chairperson said it was a ‘lovely sight’ to see all their players back enjoying themselves.

“It was great to see them all back recently. They couldn’t wait to get back. It was brilliant to see them back playing and training.”

A Ballincollig underage team celebrate winning a game.
A Ballincollig underage team celebrate winning a game.

The ladies’ football club enjoys a very strong relationship with Ballincollig GAA Club. O’Flynn is thrilled they enjoy such a ‘positive’ partnership.

“We have great facilities. We use the 4G pitch which is great as it is an all-weather pitch. We also have the new Pitch 3 which they are hoping to erect lights on at the end of the year. It is a proper sand-based pitch.

“Mondays are our main training night and we would have all the pitches booked out. It is so nice to see the huge numbers of players and coaches all out enjoying themselves.

We have the same access as the boys and the camogie club which is great. We have a great relationship with Ballincollig GAA Club. They are fair and nothing is ever a problem.”

The club chair is confident the club has a bright future.

“There is a great spirit and atmosphere in the club. There is so much help on offer throughout the club. Our main aim is to make sure the players keep developing and have fun.

“We want to maintain their interest and the fun element. We are looking forward to the season ahead.

“Reaching the 20th anniversary is a nice milestone. The future is bright. It is onwards and upwards.”

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