Category Archives: LGFA

Life In Lockdown With Grace Clifford

By Robert Cox April 2nd 2020


It’s March 8th and on a wet and windy afternoon in Dr. Hyde Park, the Kildare Ladies Footballers have just eeked out a hard fought win (0-13 to 0-08) over their hosts Roscommon in Division 3 of the league.

The win sees Kildare qualify for the final and extends their 100% record in 2020, with five wins from five under their belt. Things are really beginning to take off for this team, following some barren years since the county won the 2016 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship.

The last thing they need is an obstacle outside of their control been thrown into the mix. The team’s recent run of good form is the culmination of two years hard work under the guidance of Galway man Daniel Moynihan and his management team.

Now in his 3rd year at the helm, Moynihan and his team have unearthed some new talent, who have all added greatly to his panel and played their part alongside experienced campaigners in the shape of Siobhán O’Sullivan, Erica Burke, Róisín Byrne and Mary Hulgraine. To Moynihan’s delight the last three are back in the fold having missed the last few seasons for various reasons. And remember the trio also have All-Ireland medals safely tucked away in their back pockets, this are no ordinary threesome.

Back in Roscommon, the team congratulate each other on their most recent success, high fives all round, (little did they know that in a few weeks they wouldn’t even be able to meet never mind high fives) they know they’ve been in a battle and at the back of their minds they also know this result is a break through. This was game they would have thrown away in previous seasons. But this side have an added steel about them, with leaders around the field, none more so than team Captain Grace Clifford.

Clifford has just put in another monumental performance, driving her team on from midfield, an inspiration to some of the newcomers and a leader to all, just has she has been throughout her Lilywhite career, especially since been named Captain in 2018.

The Eadestown player was also part of that successful All-Ireland winning side of 2016 and now in 2020 she is determined more than ever to get this current side moving in the right direction. She more than anyone will be thrilled at qualifying for the league final and will be already planning for their most likely finalist opponents Down in a few weeks time.

With only the winners gaining promotion to Division 2, Clifford knows it’s time to park the Roscommon success and is already looking forward to putting in a few hard weeks training back at Hawkfield.

They still have two league fixtures to fulfill and given her winning mentality, she will want to win them too and make it a perfect seven from seven. Nothing is going to stop her and her team mates in their quest for glory she thinks as she boards the bus from Roscommon back to Kildare. Their time is now.

Fast forward a few weeks and with the country since in lockdown due to the CoronaVirus, we caught up with Clifford (over the phone of course!) for a chat to see how she was coping with isolation and restriction from seeing her team mates, extended family, friends and to see how she found working and training at home alone.

What was life like for an Inter County Captain during Cov19. Thankfully for the Recruitment Consultant, who resides in Eadestown, her job means she can work from home and as we called it came as no surprise that on her break she was out for some fresh air and exercise, determined to keep up her level of fitness ahead of any possible return to Gaa action in the coming months.

Clifford is not one to rest on her laurels. A lot had happened since that afternoon in Roscommon, with the joy of reaching the league final, turning to disappointment a week later when the powers that be in the LGFA pulled the plug on the remainder of the National League for 2020 (it won’t be finished at any stage) due to the current CoronaVirus pandemic sweeping across the country.

One feels maybe they made the decision rather hastily and could have looked at potentially finishing it in the autumn. All training had been cancelled and as mentioned above the country had more or less gone into full lockdown, with people asked to stay within a 2km radius of their home.

Clifford for one had to adapt in more than one area of her everyday life, but as usual she was upbeat and positive about the challenge ahead. “Yeah look it’s a crazy time for everyone, Covid19 was something that none of us were prepared for. It’s something that hasn’t happened in our lifetime and please God it will never happen again.

I think what it has shown us is that your health is your wealth. Regardless of our status in life, you are not immune to something like this”

Clifford, who won a Kildare SFC with her local Club Eadestown in 2018, counts herself lucky that she resides in the area, out in the countryside, where she can get out and about without worrying too much about bumping into people;

“I suppose for me I am lucky I live in the countryside in Eadestown so I am able to get out for a good run and walk and thankfully I haven’t really had to go into the towns too much in the last couple of weeks, aside from maybe going to the shops for my mam, so I have found the social distancing part easy enough to adapt too”

As usual Clifford is finding the positives from a bad situation and sees this as a time for people to regroup and take stock of their lives, something she certainly intends to do.;

“I’m a very positive person and am trying to find the positives out of the current situation. Personally for me the last number of years have been go, go, go what with college, training, work, all these things. And like so many I’ve never really had the opportunity to sit back and appreciate the simple things in life. So it’s from that maybe all of us could try and take the positives. To maybe take a step from our busy lives and take stock.

I’ve found that from been at home and been around the family all the time has been nice, though maybe if you ask me that again in a few weeks I could have a different answer!!!

Working from home

Having attended Carlow IT, Clifford now works as a recruitment consultant, where thankfully she can continue her work from home.

“I work as a recruitment consultant so as you can imagine job interviews are probably the last thing that people are thinking of or worrying about at the moment but to be honest we have been pretty lucky and have been relatively busy over the past couple of weeks.

I’m going into week three now working from home and despite initially been unsure how I’d get on with things, I’m actually enjoying it so far. Obviously I miss the company of my work colleagues in the office but I’m content with the change for now.

I’ve actually had a lot of job interviews happening and companies still working, looking to move on ahead. These are companies that are maybe been prepared since the last recession. I think people are utilising the technology we have now days, with the likes of Skype and Zoom to hold interviews, whislt also respecting the governments restrictions.

Overall working from home has been different but it’s nice to have a change every now and then. I’m grateful that I could continue in my role from home as I know so many people have been temporarily laid off. I’m also grateful to my company for doing their bit and for providing that option for me”

Daily Routine

To make it and maintain a career both on and off the field you have to have a good worth ethic, discipline and routine and though we know from the outside looking in that the County Captain possesses all these traits in abundance, she explains to us the importance of sticking to her routine during this difficult time;

“I’m a real stickler for routine. For me I’ve been doing my work and then lunchtime is when I do my workout, so I either do my run or my home gym. That’s really been unbelievable, I find that brilliant.

Then in the evenings after work I always make sure to get out for a good walk as well, while also getting out to the gable end of the house with a football and work on some skills to keep the eye in.

Again keeping this routine has helped me to stay positive and then maybe at the end of the day I would pop into the team’s group chat and send pictures of what work I had done that day. Then seeing what the others girls post too, it helps keep that communication going.

I’m obviously keeping to a very similar routine to my eating habits too, which can be a bit of a challenge at times when you are at home all day”

Keeping in contact, training in groups at a distance and management with Kildare

Going from spending so much time together and working towards a common goal since last November of winning the league has been pulled right from under the noses of Clifford and her Kildare team mates but as she she says they are in plenty of contact, working hard separately and now very much looking forward to Championship when football returns;

“We’ve a really good squad there with Kildare this year, doubled up with a great management and S&C coach, who we’ve been working with in our groups over the last few weeks, putting in amazing work, trying to stay relatively fit. We’ve been given different challenges, runs and home workouts to do.

Everything has been put in place to adapt and respect the guidelines by the HSE and the Government, while still getting out and for our physical fitness. But maybe more importantly, as our management have stressed, to get out for the goodness of our mental health also. In fairness all the girls have been great at keeping spirits up.

Again we were disappointed that the league was cancelled but at the end of the day some things are bigger than football so we’ve taken it on the chin and are looking to moving forward together as a group. As a group we are now looking forward to having a good crack at the championship when football finally does return.

Everyone is linking in and been there for one another. Personally the girls have helped me stay motivated and as a group we are taking one day at a time, knowing every day is one day closer to returning. I think at this stage all the girls will even be relishing to returning to do some pre season runs”

League Cancellation

As supporters of the LGFA, we were obviously disappointed with the cancellation of the league for 2020, especially for teams like Meath and Kildare, who were in excellent positions in their respective divisions but as Clifford explains (despite her own disappointment) that sometimes football has to take a back seat in the greater scheme of things; ”

The news of the league’s cancellation was obviously devestating for us at Kildare. From a footballing perspective we’ve been building towards this with Daniel and his team for a couple of years now and not only since last November. It’s been a work in progress that was beginning to bear fruit.

Our goal was promotion and everything had been going so well. Who would have thought that something like this would be the reason we wouldn’t be getting to play. 2020 has been a bit crazy, first all the storms and now this.

People might say that it’s very trivial to be worrying about sport at a time like this and I agree 100% but this is such a big part of our lives. It was a bit dis heartening to see that the league had been cancelled so quickly, particularly as the Gaa and Camogie Associations came out and said they would reassess the situation in April, when we all might have more of an idea where we are at with this.

But I guess more importantly we are respecting the guidelines and pulling together as a country to try and flatten the curve and that’s the main aim right now.

Again in the grand scheme of things football isn’t that important but naturally enough when you are training together for so long and it is such a big part of your life, you just want to be successful.

The fact that we now know that the league won’t go ahead, any glimmer of hope or motivation for that success is gone given the finality of the decision, though some people may disagree and argue that you are better off knowing your faith from the outset.

As I said above, we are a positive group and we have already turned our attentions to the championship, whenever that may be”

Post Covid19

Been a Manchester United, Clifford is ever the optimist and knows that the LGFA championship will go ahead in 2020, without knowing what structure it will undertake yet. You can be guaranteed she will with have both herself and her team well prepared;

“I’m been sure that there will be some sort of championship that will go ahead and we’ll continue to train for that in a positive way. We are all doing our bit for our communities and we all want to get back to normality as soon as possible.

Obviously our main focus as a group was promotion in the league, we weren’t even thinking about championship but that has changed now and all focus is on the championship to pick up where we left off and continue that winning streak right throughout the year and see where it takes us.

We’ve a really good group there and I feel we deserve to win some silverware after the work we put in.

On the club front with Eadestown, look it’s always competitive winning at any grade in Kildare, especially at Senior, any side can do well on any given year. I’d be hopeful that we’ll have a successful year. The girls are working extremely hard under new management and like everyone the girls just want to play football.

Honestly I just cannot wait to get back on the field and training with everyone, it’s the commerardery and banter that you miss most. When we return we will all definitely appreciate it more”

One thing is for sure if anyone can help this Kildare side through these difficult few months and help them repeat days like that afternoon in Roscommon at the start of March, then their inspirational Captain Grace Clifford can.

She’s proven that it be at home or at Hawkfield, behind the phone or in the centre of the huddle, things stay the same. Routine, hard work, leadership and most of all positivity makes her the leader she is. And Kidlare is all the better for her.

Photos with thanks to Karl Gormley

Joe Breen honoured at Meath LGFA awards night

The late Joe Breen from Blackhall Gaels Gaa club was posthumously inducted into the Meath LGFA Hall of Fame at the county’s annual awards night at Newgrange Hotel on Saturday night, November 2nd.

Joe was instrumental in helping set up Ladies Football in Blackhall Gaels, going on to manage them for a number of years, during a successful period for the club, including reaching a Meath SFC Final.

Sadly Joe passed away earlier this year and though he is a massive loss to his family, friends and everyone at the club, they will take solace from this lovely gesture from the County Board that will make sure Joe’s legacy lives on.

As well as been awarded the Hall of Fame, which his wife Theresa and her family collected on the night, Meath LGFA announced that as of from 2020 Senior clubs in the county will now compete for The Joe Breen Cup when they take part in the Meath Senior Football Championship.

A lovely gesture and fair play to Meath LGFA, I know the family will cherish this greatly.

KILCOCK SEAL LEINSTER FINAL SPOT WITH TREMENDOUS SECOND-HALF DISPLAY

October 26th 2019

Kilcock 3-11 Grattans (Longford) 2-11

Report by Mark Durkan and Robert Cox

A tremendous second-half performance sealed Kilcock’s place in the Leinster Junior Final next week as the eventual winners came from five points down, twice, to seal a win in Kilcock Gaa last Saturday, October 26th.

Full forward Grace White put in a spectacular performance scoring 2-06, but it was Kilcock’s sheer determination and spirit to keep fighting that was most impressive in this excellent win.

A couple of the girls had to rearrange their holidays last minute to play the game and even this level of commitment alone showed that there is something special about this Kilcock team.

Grattans started the strongest of the two sides and were unlucky not to have had a goal inside the opening five minutes, with Kilcock goalie Eimear Kelly pulling off two top class saves.

The Longford Intermediate Champions did manage to get the first score of the game when their midfielder Caoimhe Lohan kicked a point. The continued to show some great movement in the first half and this was evident by their wing-back Sophie Hogan who burst up the pitch for a goal.

Midfielder and Grattans free-taker Úna Clarke put five points between the sides with only 10 mins gone before Grace White got Kilcock’s first score after 14 minutes from a free.

Grattans went straight up the pitch and chipped in with their third point of the game. Kilcock captain Caoimhe Fagan showed some of her leadership qualities when she kicked a point from thirty meters and Grace White added a second free to bring a goal between the teams.

Grattans added a further two points with frees from Úna Clarke before a super Caoimhe Fagan point had the sides going in at the break on a scoreline of Grattans 1-5 Kilcock 0-4.

Grattans were the deserved leaders at half-time and Kilcock were not performing up to their usual standards. It was going to have to take a massive performance in the second half against the breeze to overcome the Longford side.

It was Kilcock’s full-forward Grace White who got Kilcock’s first score of the second half when she pointed from play and soon after birthday girl Sarah Lavin gave herself the perfect birthday present when she goaled for Kilcock and the sides were level once more.

The goal gave great hope to the Kilcock supporters but this was short-lived when Grattans replied with a goal of their own right away. An Úna Clarke free and Laura Valentine point put five between the sides once again.

Kilcock were not going to give up however and they kept battling and were rewarded when midfielder Megan O’Connor made a great run up the pitch and passed the ball to Grace White who rifled the ball into the top corner of the net. White added another free immediately after to leave a point between the sides.

Grattans put the foot on the pedal once more and added three points without reply and it looked like Kilcock’s excellent year was coming to an end. Two Úna Clarke frees and a Clodagh Lohan point put four points between the sides.

It was hard to see Kilcock coming back from this deficit, but you can never say never with this Kilcock team as they have shown us on many occasions throughout the year.

The game was swinging into the final quarter when corner-forward Emma Robinson kicked her first score of the day with a well taken point, before Grace White added two frees to bring a point between the sides once again.

Kilcock took the lead for the first time in the game just inside the last 10 minutes, when, a great solo effort from Grace White meant that she found space for herself and her shot bounced across the goal-line, bringing the large home support into raptures.

Úna Clarke kicked over another free for Grattans to bring it back to the minimum once more and though the visitors had a couple of scoring chances towards the end, they were unable to take them.

It was Megan O’Connor and Emma Robinson who finished off the scoring for Kilcock, with both of them kicking over points just before the ref blew his fill time whistle.

It was an unbelievable win for this Kilcock side who showed tremendous fighting spirit and a never say die attitude. They have now sealed their place in Sunday’s Leinster Junior Championship Final where they will play Navan O’Mahony’s of Meath.

Kilcock Scorers: Grace White 2-06 (5f), Sarah Lavin 1-0, Caoimhe Fagan 0-02, Aisling O’Connor 0-02, Megan O’Connor 0-01

Grattans Scorers:

Kilcock Team: Eimear Kelly, Mary Tighe, Andrea McGrath, Therese Macken, Paige Byrne, Emma Maguire, Laura Gibbons, Megan O’Connor, Caoimhe Fagan, Sarah Lavin, Ashling O’Connor, Sheena Byrne, Emma Robinson, Grace White, Lorna Murray.

Subs: Sadbh Mullarkey for Paige Byrne, Sarah Gill for Sheena Byrne, Caytie McLysaght for Sarah Lavin & Bernie Durkan for Therese Macken.

Grattans Team: Clare McCarrick, Emma McCord, Claire Shaw, Katie Devlin, Sophie Hogan, Róisín Leen, Rebecca O’Kane, Caoimhe Lohan, Una Clarke, Melissa O’Kane, Eve Nerney, Molly Mulvihill, Petrina Carrigy, Laura Valentine, Clodagh Lohan

Kilcock bid for Leinster glory

Story by Robert Cox

Friday 1st of November

Kilcock will bid for Leinster Ladies JFC honours on Sunday when they take on Meath champions Navan O’Mahonys in the Provincial final at 2pm in Kinnegad.

Having knocked on the door of the Kildare JFC for the last few years, Kilcock finally made the breakthrough this year when they overcame Rathangan to take the county title.

That set up the North Kildare side with a tilt at the Leinster title and though they have showed flashes of brilliance at times, they have also struggled to get going at times, particularly early on in games. In the main though they have impressed in the campaign so far.

A three point win over Moate of Westmeath in the Quarter-Final was followed up with another three point win in the semi final at home to a very impressive Grattans side from Longford. Second half goals from Grace White and Sarah Lavin eventually put paid to Grattans’ challenge.

The ladies in green and gold will be under no illusion of the task that faces them when they take to the field against Navan O’Mahonys and while the talk of the town is that they are in bonus territory, the determination and will to win instilled into this team by their management team will have them wanting nothing else other than a win come Sunday evening.

Kilcock, along with Moate and Grattans, were given a second chance when all three were reinstated to the Leinster Championship following the dismissal of last year’s champions Old Leighlin from Carlow.

The Kildare side had originally played and lost agonisingly by a point after extra time to Old Leighlin, only for the 2018 winners to be later removed from the competition. When the Carlow team won the JFC last year they should have been moved up to Intermediate, an oversight spotted by Grattans after their original semi final loss at the hands of Old Leighlin.

Kilcock will know that all of that is history now and having been given a second chance they will be keen to grab it with both hands as they did in the previous two rounds.

All support will be greatly appreciated from the ladies on Sunday.

Summerhill & Moynalvey pair among player of the year nominees

Sophia Payne from Summerhill and Aideen Smith from Moynalvey have both been nominated for Meath LGFA player of the year in their respective championship.

Payne, who Summerhill Ladies described on their Facebook page as a hardworking, determined and fast paced individual, with a high level of skill to booth, has been nominated for player of the year in the Intermediate championship. She is joined by Aoibhean Cleary of champions Donaghmore-Ashbourne and Meadhbh Byrne of beaten finalists Royal Gaels.

Moynalvey dual star Smith has been nominated for her exploits in this years Junior A Championship, where she drove on her side with some fine performances throughout the campaign. She is joined by Ailbhe Leahy from eventual winners Navan O’Mahonys and by Amy O’Dowd from Skryne.

The Meath LGFA presentation night takes place this coming Saturday, November 2nd in the Newgrange Hotel Navan.

Kilcock Ladies grab their second chance with both hands to qualify for Leinster Semi Final

Kilcock 1-06 Moate 0-06

By Robert Cox
They say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth and Kilcock Ladies were in no mood to that when they took on Westmeath Junior Champions Moate in the Leinster JFC Quarter Final in Kilcock Gaa on Saturday, October 19th.

With both sides getting a second bite of the cherry in the Leinster Championship, having been reinstated due to Old Leighlin of Carlow being ineligible for the competition, this was always going to be a cagey tie, with neither wanting to experience the heartache of exiting the competition for a second time. And it was Kilcock who finally came through a tough game to win out by three points in the end.

Kilcock went ahead inside the first thirty seconds when centre forward Aisling O’Connor took control of the ball before cutting through the Moate defence and slotting the ball over the bar. If the hosts thought O’Connor’s score was going to set the tone and Moate were simply going to roll over, then they had to quickly think again as the Westmeath side gained control of the game to hit three points in a row through Chloe Moran and Casey Rotroe from play and Brenda O’Brien from a free to lead three points to one after eighteen minutes as the rain began to fall.

At this juncture the game began to open up, which seemed to suit Kilcock and when they pushed up on a defensive Moate side, they suddenly began to bear fruit.

The eventual winning of the game came between the 20th and 25th minute for Kilcock with their sharp-shooting full-forward Grace White pointing from a placed ball, having been clearly singled out for special attention from the Moate defence. From the resulting kick out O’Connor got her second point of the day before the games only goal from veteran Sheena Byrne changed the entire landscape of the tie.

Byrne got on the ball about just inside the penalty area and despite the best efforts of the Moate defence and goalkeeper to save the shot, the ball rolled into the net and Kilcock were a goal ahead. To the large home support in attendance, Byrne’s effort seemed to take an age to reach the goal, trickling along the muddy surface, with gasps aplenty as it looked likely at one point that the ball would in fact stop short of the line. One supporter likened it to a scene from the over 75s Football match on Father Ted, when the ball took an age to reach the goal, with the keeper struggling to get back, having gone the wrong way!!

Regardless of how the ball ended up in the net mattered little for Kilcock as they took a lead that they would never relenquish. Moate responded with a point almost immediately through the impressive Anna Sheerin. Kilcock still had time for another goal chance, which were a rare commodity on the day, but Grace White’s shot from twenty five yards hit the crossbar. In hindsight White will know she could have taken the ball on, with no one in a white Jersey between her and the goalie at the time.

Following that the teams went in at the break with Kilcock in the lead by two points on a scoreline of Kilcock 1-3 Moate 0-4.

Then came an almighty downpour. Just as the Laois referee was due to throw the ball in for the second half the heavens opened. Sensibly the players were ordered back into the dressing rooms to take cover. The supporters weren’t so lucky!!

When the rain abated and the rainbow appeared, the game resumed. And in a carbon copy of the first half, Kilcock won the throw in and went straight down the field to register the first score, except this time it was the hard working wing forward Sarah Lavin who raised the white flag.

It took Moate ten minutes to register their first score of the half and it came by way of a free from Anna Sheerin.

The next twenty minutes turned into a war of attrition, with only three more points registered. And even though the sun made an appearance, it couldn’t brighten up what was overall a dull game that lacked quality for long periods.

In saying that, it never lacked for excitement in terms of how close the score remained and when Grace White added another free to put three points between the sides once more, it looked like Kilcock might finally pull away.

Moate though were not about to go away and when Sheerin converted a free down the other end the margin was once again down to two with ten minutes remaining.

A two point lead can be very dangerous, especially in a tight game but the Kilcock defence, who were immense and in a very miserly mood throughout, stood firm and were in no mood to give up a goal chance that Moate so badly craved.

In fact it was Kilcock who would fashion another goal chance deep into injury time but forward Emma Robinson shot was excellently saved by the Moate goalkeeper Christine Warburton. Unfortunately for the latter she touched the ball on the ground outside the square and Kilcock were awarded a free. White made no mistake in converting her third free of the day, just before the referee blew his his whistle for full-time.

It was an excellent win for Kilcock (1-06 to 0-06) who fought hard in tough conditions, against a ressiliant Moate side. Though both team and management will know a big improvement in their overall performance will be needed if they are progress any further in the competition. They also know they have been given a second chance in been reinstated at Old Leighlin’ expense and will look to grab it with both hands.

Best for the winners were in main numbered from 1-7, especially Emma Maguire, Andrea McGrath and player of the game Laura Gibbons, who worked tirelessly to keep Moate at bay.

Kilcock now advance to the Leinster Semi-Final, where they will take on Longford Intermediate Football Champions Grattans in Kilcock on Saturday at 2pm.

Kilcock:
Eimear Kelly, Mary Tighe, Andrea McGrath, Therese Macken, Paige Byrne, Emma Maguire, Laura Gibbons, Megan O’Connor, Caoimhe Fagan, Sarah Lavin (0-1), Ashling O’Connor (0-2), Sheena Byrne (1-0), Emma Robinson, Grace White (0-3f), Lorna Murray.
Subs used: Bernie Durkan for Therese Macken

Kilcock Ladies reinstated to Leinster Junior Championship

Kilcock Ladies Footballers have been reinstated into the Leinster Junior Championship along with Moate of Westmeath and Longford side Grattans.

The extraordinary turn of events comes at the expense of Carlow champions Old Leighlin, who have beaten all three sides enroute to what was meant to be a Leinster final meeting with Navan O’Mahonys on October 26th.

The Carlow Senior Champions won the Leinster Junior Championship in 2018, thus bringing into effect Rule 222: A Club which wins the Provincial Junior or Intermediate Championship must move up a grade for the following year‘s Provincial Championship.

Old Leighlin defeated Moate in the preliminary round, before needing extra time to overcome Kildare Champions Kilcock in the Quarter-Final.

However it is since their most recent victory, a 6-07 to 3-05 win over Longford side Grattans, that this has come to light.

The Longford Intermediate Champions queried that fact as to why they were playing the current Leinster Junior Champions, when Old Leighlin should in fact have been playing in the Leinster Intermediate Championship.

More to follow….