ST FINBARR’S GAA club made history by fielding their first junior ladies football team recently.
The Togher-based club is synonymous with football, hurling and camogie both inside and outside Cork and has now added a ladies football team to their growing ranks.
Three All-Ireland, four Munster and eight county football championships allied with two All-Ireland, four Munster and 25 county hurling titles underline the Blues' pedigree.
Now, the hope is that the club’s senior camogie and newly formed junior ladies football setups can follow suit.
As opening nights go, it couldn’t have gone much better for the Barrs new LGFA side. Managed by Michael Ryan, Jeff Castles and Alan Daly, the blues overcame Carrigtwohill 6-12 to 2-6 in their first competitive outing.
Ellen Crowley top scored for the winners with 2-1 while Erin Browne (1-2), Eimear Fitzpatrick (1-2), Sofia Daly (1-2), Megan Fitzpatrick (0-3), Natasha Varian (0-2) and Abby Murphy (1-0) also got their names on the scoresheet.
On such an historic night, St Finbarr’s LGFA Chairperson Joe Hallahan was delighted to see many years of hard work at underage level coming to fruition.
“Creating a junior ladies football team was a natural progression after starting out with younger girls in a new U14 team back in 2018,” Hallahan told the Echo.
“The club entered teams in the various Cork LGFA age-grades as the girls got older until they felt they were ready to field at junior (adult) level.
“A second reason for our new junior team’s creation is that it came about because of player demand. St. Finbarr’s is a senior camogie club so a lot of women are involved. Many of that camogie team asked if we could facilitate a ladies football team as well.
“That’s how it all first started really.”
Setting up a new Barrs new junior team took a lot of time and effort before successfully getting off the ground.
Everyone within the GAA club helped out in any way they could to make sure St. Finbarr’s LGFA could start competing at adult level.
“Initially, some of the people that helped get the club off the ground included Mick Dillon, Ken McCarthy, Ciara Dillon, Kevin Murray, Kieran Murphy and Shane Myers,” Joe Hallahan added.
“Those are the people who got the ball rolling. We applied to the Cork LGFA for our affiliation and once received we started training and playing games. In terms of numbers, our junior team would have up to 30 players on the panel.
“We got off to the best possible start by defeating Carrigtowhill. It was a brilliant night and Carrigtwohill were very welcoming to us. As one of the girls said, that game was nearly four seasons in the making.
“We started training last Autumn and between Spring, Summer and Winter, nothing much happened because of Covid. So, it was fantastic to finally get the first match completed for everyone invovled.”
Clearly, St Finbarr’s possess a talented panel of players who are determined to make their mark in Cork LGFA circles. Beneath the Barrs' adult setup lies an even healthier underage structure which is vital for the club’s future prospects.
“At the moment, we would have approximately about 130 players in our underage setup,” Joe Hallahan noted.
“We cater for all the age groups from U6 right up to minor. We have had a ‘bounce’ following Covid, there is no doubt about that.
“More and more people are bringing their children to try outdoor sports. So, we hope to keep the momentum going with all our young players during the summer.”
The cooperation of everyone involved with St Finbarr’s GAA club has been crucial to ensuring their new ladies football team has every opportunity of attaining future success. It is something Joe Hallahan and his fellow club members greatly appreciate.
“The Barr’s have been fantastic in helping promote ladies sport,” the club’s LGFA Chairman said.
“We were one of the first GAA clubs to give our (senior) men’s and camogie teams equal status. Ladies football is no different and is now being given a similar status.
“Whether it is when we go looking for pitches, dressing rooms or anything we need from the Executive, it is always there for us.
“There is nothing but support there for us.”
Defeating Carrigtwohill will go down in the Cork LGFA history books as St Finbarr’s first victory at adult level.
The best is yet to come from a committed club and panel of players intent on making their mark in the coming years.