Ladies Football Club History

 

History of  St. Martin’s Ladies Gaelic Football Club  2002 - 2011

Jamie Jordan of Murrintown was one of the main drivers behind the formation of the St. Martin’s Ladies Football Club in 2002.  Jamie established that there were a number of girls from the area interested in playing football and, along with Marie Thorpe, they set about starting up a ladies football team under the banner of St. Martins.  Advice was sought from the County Wexford Ladies Football Board regarding setting up and running of a club which would be registered under the county board.

 

In February 2002 a meeting was held in Jordan’s Pub and was attended by a representative from County Board who informed the meeting of the protocol involved in starting up a club.  The meeting was well attended by girls interested in playing and also some parents, who offered their support.  Frank Codd and Jack Roche from St. Martin’s G.A.A. Club also attended and gave assurances that the Club would do whatever they could to encourage and support the playing of ladies football in the Club.  Jamie Jordan was elected Chairman, Fiona Hayes was elected Secretary and Marie Thorpe accepted the position of Manager/Coach of the team.  The rest, as they say is history!

 

Training began in Piercestown, with a total of 24 ladies registering with the Club, the majority of whom had never kicked a football before!  The first game was played at home to Gusserane on the 3rd April 2002 and while there wasn’t to be a victory on their first day out, the girls certainly did not disgrace themselves, being beaten by 8 points by a very strong and experienced Gusserane side.  The team that lined out for that historic first match was as follows:

Diane Davies, Tracey Howlin, Alma Radford, Caroline Kehoe, Nicola Butler, Tara Kehoe, Bronagh O’Mahoney, Linda Waters, Fiona Toomey, Jamie Jordan,  Aishling Frayne, Kate Devereux, Ann Marie Sinnott, Ann Marie Lambert and Catherine O’Keeffe.

 

Since that first game in April 2002 the girls have come a long way in terms of both fitness and skills.  There were no medals or finals reached for the first two years then in 2004 they made a break through by reaching the County Junior B Final for the very first time.  The match was played in front of a huge crowd of supporters in Wexford Park in August 2004 and the opponents were Bannow Ballymitty.  It was a tough, fast game with the St. Martin’s girls battling and harrying for every ball and taking their chances as they came.  They eventually were beaten by 2 points by the more experienced Bannow side.  They definitely gave their all that day and played their hearts out.  The experience was to stand them in good stead when they got another crack at the championship this year.

 

In August 2005, St. Martin’s contested their second final in as many years and this time they weren’t going to come home without the cup!  After a shaky start they went in at half time just a point behind to their opponents, Halfway House Bunclody.  However, after the half-time talk by their coach, Marie Thorpe, the girls came out in the second half determined not to be beaten and suffer the disappointment of losing another final and played like a team possessed and ran out deserved winners by 10 points in the end, the final score was 5 goals 9 points to 4 goals 2 points.  Captain, Miriam Lambert, accepted the cup on behalf of her team amidst scenes of great joy from both players and supporters alike, with the celebrations continuing back in The Centre in Piercestown until the early hours!!  Jacko Radford of Sherry Fitzgerald Radford sponsored t-shirts for the final and Vincent Cullen Plant hire sponsored socks. 

 

St. Martin’s had a convincing win over Clonee in the semi-final of the Division 3 League and a great year in the short history of the club was finished off in style when they went on to meet and beat  Halfway House Bunclody  in the League Final which was played on the 20th November 2005. 

 

As St. Martin’s had won the Division 3 League Final in 2005, they were promoted to Division 2 for the 2006 season.   This step up was a major challenge but the girls rose to the occasion and reached the league final, beating a very strong Horeswood side along the way in the semi-final.  The opposition in the Final was Ballygarrett.  In the previous two meetings in the earlier rounds of the league both teams had won their home games, so it was honours even going into the final!  After a very tough and close encounter, Ballygarrett’s experience at this level and their strength finally paid off and they pulled away in the final quarter to win by a margin of 6 points. St. Martin’s was also beaten by Ballygarrett in the Junior A championship quarter-final by a margin of 4 points.

 

It was a tremendous achievement for the St. Martin’s girls to reach the Division 2 League Final in their first year in this division and it was a major step up  for a club in only its 4th year of existence.   The experience gained in competing at this level and in reaching this year’s final will stand them in good stead in next year’s competitions. 

 

All-Ireland 7-A-Side:

For the first time ever the Club entered a team in the All-Ireland 7-a-Side Competition which was played in Malahide on the 30th September 2006.  The other teams in our group were St. Brendan’s of Galway, Halloway Gaels of London, Foxrock/Cabinteely and Emyvale of Monaghan.  In the Group Stages we won one match, drew one and lost two.  All in all it was a very enjoyable experience and a great learning curve and the general consensus among players and selectors alike was that it was worth repeating in future years.

 

Unfortunately, there were no team trophies or medals for the club in 2007.  However, on the county scene we were well represented.  Aoife Waters, one of the up and coming young players into the county, made a break-through onto the county panel early in the year and it wasn’t too long until she forged a place for herself onto the starting 15.  She went onto have a major part to play in the Leinster Final, which Wexford won, and also in the National League and All-Ireland Intermediate Finals where Wexford were unfortunately defeated.  Another one of our young players who has been making a name for herself in county underage circles at that time was Amy Ryan.  Amy was a member of the county minor panel in 2007 and she also captained the county under 16 team to win the Leinster Final.  The under 16’s were unfortunately beaten in the All Ireland semi-final but Amy led by example throughout the campaign.  The club members all took great pride in the exploits of their team mates.

 

For a few years prior to 2009 the underage girls from St. Martin’s combined with the girls from our neighbours St Fintan’s to form underage teams. This team was known as The Saints and they were very successful. The clubs separated in 2009 as both clubs could field individual teams. That year was a very successful one for St. Martins as our U12’s were runner up in their division, the U14’s won their division and were also runner up at their first attempt in a Féile Final.

 

In 2010, our under 14’s won both the U.14 championship and the county Féile Final and went on to represent Wexford in the All-Ireland Féile Finals held in Derry.  Whilst they did not win any medals at the finals, they gained significant experience from the competition which should stand them in good stead for the future and they also had a memorable time in Derry. 

 Our club was well represented on the Wexford team that won the All-Ireland U14B final in 2010, which was captained by St. Martin’s player, Elsa McDermott and indeed there were great scenes of celebrations in our club when the Cup was brought back to our clubhouse after the match. The other St. Martin’s players on the team were Ciara Rossiter, Aisling Cronin, Ellen Barrett, Muireann Byrne and Amy Cardiff.  A great achievement for the club.

 

In 2011, the committee elected was Chairperson Marie Thorpe, Secretary and Fixtures Aine Murphy, Treasurer and Registrar Fiona Hayes.

 

Our U10’s took part in the Gorey Blitz and acquitted themselves very well. They only just missed out on top spot by a single point. This group of girls were a joy to be around and their enthusiasm was infectious.

 

Our U12’s contested exceptionally well in a very difficult group and judging by the competitiveness of the games, they have a great future ahead of them. The U12 and U14 teams for next season look to be quite strong.

 

Our U14’s, under the management of Aine Murphy, Fiona Hayes and Kevin Doherty, won the U14 Feile Final and for the 2nd year running qualified for the All Ireland Feile Finals held in Cork. Unfortunately they did not win any medals on this occasion but their behaviour on and off the field made this trip a great experience. They finished runner up in the Championship back in Wexford been beaten by Ballyhogue in a closely contested final so close that it took a replay to decide the outcome.

 

Our U16’s also competed in a very difficult group but performed brilliantly. Indeed some of the best games of the year were played at this age group. This bodes very well for next years U16 and Junior teams.

 

At Junior level the hard decision was taken to withdraw after a few games as this was being fielded predominantly by U16’s and was just a step too far for. Happily, however, we have re-established the Junior team for the 2012 season and, with the wealth of talent coming through the ranks, the future looks very bright for the club.