IN WHAT was a special occasion in Knockgriffin Park, the home of Midleton FC, the commitment of volunteer Denise McArdle Moore was honoured.
In front of a huge crowd of club coaches, parents, players and representatives from the MSL, CYL and CWSSL, Mick Kirby club chairman was thrilled to pay tribute to one of the club's loyal servants. She made a massive impact on the development of girls football and the academy has been named after her: The Denise McArdle Moore Midleton FC Girls Football Academy.
“We celebrated a person who has done so much for this club and our wider community," said Kirby. For the last 20 years, Denise has given to her adopted town and we are all the better for her being with us in Midleton FC.
“It was our delight to honour Denise McArdle Moore by naming our Girls Academy after her. It is a tribute to one of our most loyal volunteers.
“Denise stepped into our club in 2001 when we had one girls team. Her focus and interest in helping girls to play football was there for all to see and she worked hard to make sure girls were looked after.
“Denise has all the qualities you would expect from a good coach. Well organised, caring, kind and encouraging players all the time ensuring them that they can do better. She has always stood strong for equality for girl’s football which has only improved the respect in the women’s game today.
“She is also very much involved in the club, presently she is club secretary, delegate to the MSL, CYL and CWSSL, Children’s Officer and Covid Officer."
She had a very positive impact on players of all abilities.
“What has really stood out for all of us is Denise’s determination to make a difference in helping young girls to develop playing football and go on to play a higher level in the game.
“Many players Denise has coached over the years have gone on to play with Cork, Munster National League, professional football and for Ireland.
“Girl’s football at Midleton FC is thriving with over 150 playing members and 30 coaches.
“This success is a true reflection on her outstanding contribution to girl’s football in Midleton and Cork. She has been an inspiration to so many and it’s great that we can celebrate a person who has done so much for our club and the wider community because we are all so grateful."
Gerry McAnaney President of FAI also paid tribute to Denise for the work she has done over many years for schoolgirls and ladies football.
“When I was asked to come, I said yes straight away as I was always familiar with the huge work and dedication Denise has put in over the years,” said McAnaney.
"It’s because of the likes of people like Denise that our International team are now doing so well. Volunteers at grassroots level are so important and having kids involved in sport is fantastic because it teaches them life-long lessons.
"It was a fitting tribute to a lady that has dedicated over two decades of coaching in the club and I applaud her for that.”
Having been on the opposite line to her over the years while I coached my club Wilton, across many battles between the two sides, I’ve always had huge respect for Denise.
My first impression of her was wow what a beautiful woman, and secondly, while myself and Pat Bowdren shouted from the line, I was always impressed that Denise could be louder than us, but always in a positive tone which was great to hear.
I was proud and thrilled to see Denise honoured, for her family it was a wonderful occasion.
It was a proud moment for and this was evident in their emotion. It was also nice that it coincided with her son Alex's 21st birthday.
Her daughter Charley, who now plays with Riverstown and UCC, was quick to praise the club for honouring their mom, which meant a lot.
“We as a family are very thankful,” said Charley. "My mom had a fantastic playing career of her own, playing in Dublin when she was younger and in London when she was nursing there.
"But she says it often felt like the Lidl advert with the Ladies Footballers playing uphill, there were so many barriers that made it difficult for girls to play soccer and to play at the level that they deserved.
"That’s what my mom set out to change, she wanted girls to be able to access soccer on an equal playing field to boys, fall in love with the sport and play to the highest of their abilities. Mick Kirby and Midleton FC have enabled her to make this a reality.
"From day one the girls’ teams in Midleton were seen as equals in the club. We would like to thank them so much for recognising her dedication to the club over the years.”