IN the early seventies, ladies Gaelic Football swept on to a previously male-dominated scene and raised some eyebrows amongst the more traditionally minded folk.
Currently the Ladies Football Association of Ireland has over 100,000 members with the majority of clubs now hosting teams from Under 10 level through to Senior.
Last season, Clann Éireann ladies swept the boards at all levels in Armagh. The ladies from Lake Street will again be the side to beat at club level this season but many other clubs in the county are well advanced in coaching and management systems which have resulted in their players being chosen to represent their county at various levels.
One such player is Ciara Lennon from St Peter’s who this week, provides ‘MAIL’ readers with an in-depth analysis of her views on ladies football.
Ciara was a member of the Armagh minor team which won Ulster and All Ireland honours at B level last season.
The St Peter’s girl currently attends the Southern Regional College in Lurgan and when she attended St Mary’s Junior High School in the town she was a member of the team which won two Ulster Titles.
She has been making a name for herself this season having hit six goals and seven points in 2012 for Armagh.
Ciara, whose dad is on the Armagh management team, has high hopes for other St Peter’s girls such as Chloe Magill and Sinead Duffy who are currently with the Armagh Under 16 squad.
The former St Francis’ primary school pupil has represented her County at all levels from Under 12s through to Senior level and she sets out to emulate players like Mags McAlinden and Sinead McCleary, who are established county stars, she will be mindful of the coaches at St Peter’s who have shaped here career in Gaelic Football to date.
Eugene Creaney went to talk to the lady herself.
Last season Clann Eireann made a clean sweep of honours at club level in Armagh. Do you feel that other clubs can challenge them in the future?
“Over the past few years, Carrickcruppen won a Senior Championship, Dromintee won a Minor League and Championship, Crossmaglen have won an Under 16 Championship and Shane O’Neills have won an Under 14 Championship, so I don’t think Clann Eireann will always dominate League and Championships at all levels. At least I hope not.”
Which coaches at your own club St Peters have had the most influence on you as a player?
“Paul Lavery, he was the one that started ladies football within St Peters and this year has returned as the Senior Ladies manager.”
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
“Winning the Minor All-Ireland last season. After winning our first Ulster last year we were very disappointed to lose to Wexford in the All-Ireland Semi-Final, so we were very determined to go one better this year.”
Which young St Peter’s girls do you feel will do well in the future?
“We have a lot of good young players coming through the ranks. Caitlin McQuade is with the County Under 14s and Sinead Duffy and Chloe Magill are with the County Under 16s and I hope this will help to improve their football skills.”
Do you believe that enough coaching is being done in schools regarding ladies football?
“No I don’t think so, but at the minute myself and some other members of St Peter’s Ladies Seniors will be going into Lurgan Model Primary School and St Theresa’s Primary School to coach gaelic football and we hope we get plenty of young girls participating.”
What has been your toughest game to date?
“The All-Ireland Minor Semi-Final against Waterford last year. We were five points down with 10 minutes remaining and won by a point in the end. I think that all the hard training we done throughout the year paid off for us as our fitness showed in those last 10 minutes.”
How supportive have your family been with your club and county participation?
“They have been very supportive over the years. My mum and dad never miss a game and have driven me all over the country to play football.”