International Women's Day: Where it all began for Mullingar Shamrocks ...
It's traditional on this International Women's Day to acknowledge the contribution of women to the Mullingar Shamrocks Club. The theme for this year's International Women's Day is, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women's Rights so it is appropriate that we go back to where it all began in 1976 when the decision was made to stage a ladies football championship for the first time in Westmeath. Nine teams entered and Mullingar Shamrocks were included in a group of three that included Drumraney and Delvin.
Twelve men had walked on the moon before women played football in Springfield but all this ended at 8.00 pm on Wednesday, 18 August when the first training session for the women's championship was held. 'Bring your boots, togs and jerseys' the notice advised; 'We'll provide the football and the coaching'. More information was available from club officers, Seán Nolan, Seamus McGowan and Des Doolin.
The Mullingar Shamrocks women travelled to Delvin on 12 September for their opening championship match and the club's first ladies football match. The throw in was at 12.00 so it was unlikely if any of those involved made the journey out to the Beehive Lodge's Tudor Suite where that holy priest Fr Michael Cleary was performing in cabaret with an admission charge of 6/=.
It was an impressive winning debut and at the final whistle the scoreboard read 5-6 to 0-0 in favour of Shamrocks who according to the report 'played with all the guise and expertise of seasoned campaigners'. Mullingar Shamrocks fielded the following team on this historic occasion: Pauline Nally; Jane Reynolds, Siobhán Donnelly (Patricia McGuiness), Máiread Gallagher; Bridget Hoye, Helen Collins, Adrienne Gallen (Claire Gallagher); Donna Buckley, Catherine Dunne (captain); Anne-Marie Ledwith, Ruth Algar, Bernie Lambden; Sue McLoughlin (Margaret Mullen), Fidelis Cullen, Jean Ledwith.
A week later Drumraney provided the opposition in Ballynacarrigy and the Shamrocks women recorded their second championship victory. Jane Reynolds emerged as the player of the match: her 'timely interceptions and raking clearances were out of the top drawer'. Fidelis Cullen scored the two goals that delivered the victory.
Mullingar Shamrocks: Pauline Nally; Jane Reynolds, Siobhán Donnelly, Patricia McGuiness; Bridget Hoye, Helen Collins, Adrienne Gallen; Donna Buckley, Catherine Dunne (captain); Anne-Marie Ledwith, Ruth Algar, Bernie Lambden; Sue McLoughlin (Muirin Moynihan), Fidelis Cullen (2-0), Ruth Clarke.
The championship campaign ended on 2 October at the semi-final stage when Milltown-Moyvore claimed victory on a 1-5 to 0-3 scoreline after Shamrocks led by 0-2 to 0-1 at the interval. On this occasion goalkeeper Pauline Nally earned recognition as the player of the match with a string of brilliant saves. Ruth Algar (an international athlete and inducted into the University of Limerick Hall of Fame in 2015), Barbara Flynn, Muirin Moynihan, Máiread Gallagher and Anne-Marie Ledwith also excelled whilst Donna Buckley conquered the pain barrier and played with a broken thumb.
Mullingar Shamrocks: Pauline Nally; Muirin Moynihan, Helen Collins, Máiread Gallagher; Bridget Hoye, Siobhan Donnelly, Adrienne Gallen; Ruth Algar, Catherine Dunne (captain); Anne-Marie Ledwith, Donna Buckley, Jean Ledwith; Ruth Clarke, Fidelis Cullen, Barbara Flynn. Replacements: Patricia McGuinness, Claire Gallagher.
These then were the women who made history and were the first women to represent Mullingar Shamrocks in ladies football.
It's been quite the journey since those historic September days back in 1976. Women have been fully integrated into the club structures and are placing an increasingly important role in the club. Mullingar Shamrocks has operated the One Club model before the phrase was invented and we now field LGF teams across all the age grades as well as adult teams.
Detty Cornally has been President of Mullingar Shamrocks since 1991 and was the pioneer female administrator in the club and with her amazing work ethic set the standard for all club members. Detty also introduced a team of helpers to the club and this introduced several more women to the organisation. Many including Patsy Ryland became involved through Scór and Patsy has been dancing and preparing dancers since the beginning of Scór. Mary Cornally has a long association with Scór and now serves as secretary of the county committee. Jemma McNamee, a two-time All-Ireland champion, was introduced to Shamrocks through Scór and has served the club in numerous singing, dancing and fund raising roles most spectacularly in 2016 when she directed the club's Grease-The Musical for its week long run in the Mullingar Arts Centre. Our Roince Foirne dancing troupe, our only current county champions and solo singer Katie McCarthy have been wonderful ambassadors for the club in the GAA's cultural competition.
Several women members have served the club in senior administrative positions. Tanya Corroon served as Treasurer for a number of years when the task included maintaining the Clubhouse bar accounts.. Noreen Garry held the post of secretary and Carole Finch served as PRO and continues to be a key member of the club's LGF section. Therese Colleary was the driving force behind several successful Golf Classics. The present club executive includes Detty, Karen Hegarty (Registrar), Joan Ormsby (Healthy Club Officer), Maria Carroll (Treasurer), Lisa Burke (Children's Officer), Debbie Noonan (Chairperson of the LGF Committee),Sophie Hegarty and Andrina Finch. Maria Carroll succeeded Aoibheann Byrne in the financial chair and Róisin Masterson led the Finance Committee in 2018 with style and substance, co-ordinated the plans for the wonderful Strictly Shamrocks, and with Andrina and Geraldine McCormack was responsible for planning our 2019 Dinner Dance.
Yesterday in Springfield several women were actively engaged in coaching young boys and girls. Lisa Burke pioneered greatness in LGF in Mullingar Shamrocks and Westmeath and has had many following in her footsteps with Anna Jones and Lauren McCormack the latest to represent the county with distinction at senior level.. Marie Burke and Anne Melody were involved from the start. And then there is Gaelic4Mothers&Others that has added so much to the club.
The great unsung heroes of the club are the women who have worked the Thursday night Bingo sessions. Tina McCarthy, Marion Glennon, Olive Collins, Tricia Carter, Martina Heffernan, Marian Madden, Mary Curley, Detty Cornally, Debbie Doyle and Charlotte Connolly have been nursing the weekly event for the last thirteen years.
On International Women's Day we appreciate the key roles women play in the Mullingar Shamrocks Club.