Portlaoise Ladies Gaelic Football History
Another first was entered into the annals of the history of Portlaoise GAA Club in 1987 when the Ladies Football Junior team won their first County Championship against a strong Mountrath side. They became the first ladies team to win a championship and in doing so set the scene for what has been a hugely successful period in the development of Ladies Football in Portlaoise GAA Club.
The club was formed in 1985 after a meeting and approximately 50 girls joined in the first year. Two teams were entered into the championship. Tom Daly was one of the founding members. The success in 1987 was attained by under the guidance of trainer Kevin Farrell, with the following panel: Paula Kelly, Jackie Walsh, Monica O’Brien, Breda Carter, Geraldine Whelan, Noleen Duggan, Mary O’Loughlin, Cora Graham, Kathleen Tierney, Mairead Ryan, Jacinta White, Catherine Gavin, Deirdre Fennell, Angela Keogh, Lorraine Dowling, Una Fennell, Celine O’Sullivan, Marissa Martley, Margo O’ Callaghan, Angela Strong, Ann Pike and Ann Duggan.
In 1988 a further Junior championship was won beating rivals Ballypickas in the final. A unique feature of the championship win in 1988 was that the Junior ladies and the men’s Junior team both won their championships on the same day. A further unique achievement was that there were four brothers and sisters on the winning sides on county final day. Ann and Noleen Duggan were on the ladies team while John and Cyril Duggan were on the men’s junior football winning side that beat Rosenallis to make it a fine double celebration. While the club was promoted to senior level for 1989 the club dropped back to Junior status the following year and having been beaten in 1990 in the semi-final, success came again in 1991 with a third Junior championship defeating Crettyard 2-5 to 1-5 in the final. The panel in 1991 included: Annette Lawlor, Ann Pike, Jacinta White, Catherine O’Reilly, Jackie Walsh, Noleen Duggan, Mary O’Loughlin, Cora Graham, Kathleen Murphy, Mairead Ryan, Catherine Gavin, Kathleen Tierney, Sharon Conroy, Marita Costigan, Helen Kelly, Eunice Delaney, Olivia Conroy, Mary Conroy, and Lorraine Dowling.
Through those early years a number of individuals in the club gave great assistance including Peadar and Liz Molloy who supplied jerseys for all games and loyal supporters like Tommy Keogh, Jim O’Loughlin and Eamonn Kealy who greatly helped with the running of the team and enjoyed the success of the girls during that period. The club then disbanded for a couple of years. In 1992 Frank Keenan senior club secretary approached Brendan Fitzpatrick with the view of setting the club up again. A plan was drawn up and a meeting organised with parents of girls who were playing with the local schools in the town in the schools leagues. Sr. Anne in the Sacred Heart School and Marie Ryan were also involved in helping to encourage the girls in the school to join the club.
Another former Portlaoise Great Paddy Bracken also took part in the first few training sessions in the convent field before the club moved back up to the club grounds where training was organised on a regular basis. A new committee was elected consisting of Brendan Tynan as Club Chairman, Brendan Fitzpatrick was Club Secretary, Rita Fitzpatrick was elected Treasurer and the committee included Anne Scanlon, Cora Graham and Jackie Walsh, Cora Tynan, Muddy Carroll, and many more who were very helpful in rejuvenating the Ladies section of the Club. Some of the players at that time included Brenda Tynan Tara Fitzgerald, Anne Collins, Emer Holland, Aine, Maureen, and Eilis Fitzpatrick, Marissa Fitzpatrick and Emma Brennan, to name a few.
After this successful period the club again disbanded and reemerged in 2000 as a juvenile club. With the involvement of Brendan Fitzpatrick and Seamus Brady and the assistance of the local schools 20 girls had joined within two weeks. Tony Ryan and Joe Wright along with Seamus Brady became trainers of this group of girls. They were entered into the U-14 Championship. There were new girls joining every week. The panel included Ailbhe Culleton, Ciara Boyle, Sarah Prendergast, Amy Colgan, Emer Ryan, Caroline Lawless, Natasha Brady, Emma Sinnott, Elaine O’Neill, Caroline Nee, and Katie Sheehan. Sarah Conway, Lynn Hennessy, Katie Wright, Mauve O Sullivan, Aileen Fitzgerald, Ann Marie Brennan, Claire Dunne, Aimee Dunphy, Michelle Sinnott, Brianna McCrory, Teresa Bland, Roisin O Dea, Noreen Mc Inerney, Shauna Savage, Noreen Mc Donagh, Marie Mc Donagh, Aoife Parkinson, Anita Dooley, Sarah Dooley, Leona Martley, Ann Marie Downey and Michelle O’Connor.
They were not very successful in the first year but at least the club was up and running. Also very helpful in getting the club up and running were Antoinette Prendergast and Rita Fitzpatrick along with Brendan Fitzpatrick and the Portlaoise juvenile club (boys) The club also got a lot of assistance from the County Board especially Mary Ramsbottom and Joan Colton without whose help the job would have been so much harder.
In 2001 the club was in a position to field an Under 12 team along with an Under 14 team. While the Under 14s failed to win a game that year the improvement game by game was obvious and encouraging for everyone involved. The Under 12 team gave the club a huge boost when they won the first under age title in the club’s history beating Ballylinan on a score line of 5-4 to Ballylinan 1-3 in a replay after the first game ended level after a thriller, Portlaoise 2-5 Ballylinan 2-5. The playing panel for that historic win included. Ciamh Dollard, Helen Murphy, Emma Sinnott, Rebecca Kelly, Lorraine McCormack, Tara Moran, Aisling O Keeffe, Grainne Egan, Leanne Cushen, (captain) 0-1 Sarah Ann Fitzgerald 1-0 Charlotte Delaney 1-2 Tanya Maher, Catherine Delaney, Karen Lantry 3-0 Louise Cawley. Subs Gemma Lawlor, Nicola Larkin, Aisling Phelan, Aideen Fitzpatrick, Zara Healey, Eimear Colgan, Laura Brothwood, Marian O’Connor, Karen Murphy and Grainne Brothwood.
By 2002 the club was in a position to enter three teams at u-12 u-14 and at u-16 level. While there was no success at Under 14 and Under 16 level the Under 14s appeared in their first final at this grade in the league competition. The Under 12 team once again were crowned county champions beating St Conleths in the final on a score line of 3-10 to 2-3. The team also beat St. Conleths in the league final and the panel that year was Ciamh Dollard, Kate Dunne, Rebecca Kelly, Aideen Fitzpatrick, Marion O’Connor, Aisling O’Keeffe, Karen Murphy, Clodagh Donovan, Sarah Ann Fitzgerald, Tanya Maher, Emer Colgan, Louise Cawley, Aideen Tobin, Laura Brothwood, Gemma Lawlor, Aisling Phelan, Aoife Duff, Alma Tynan, Paula Moran, Jessica Brennan, and Vanessa Finlay. The management team was Gerry Cawley and Sean Murphy with great assistance from Phil O’Keeffe, Gretta Kelly and Theresa Cawley.
In 2003 the club again fielded three teams in the championship at Under 12, Under 14 and Under 16 level. The Under 16 team qualified for their first county final having defeated Sarsfield’s in the semi-final in a thriller. The final did not go the way of the Portlaoise girls where they lost by six points 2-10 to 1-7 after a great struggle but the greater experience of Shanahoe won out. The panel included Ciamh Dollard, Ailbhe Culleton, Helen Murphy, Caroline Lawless, Tara Moran, Briana McCrory, Fiona O’Connor, Laura Byrne, Clare Dunne, Natasha Brady, Michelle O’Connor, Olga Parkinson, Rachael Monaghan, Lorraine McCormack, Emma Sinnott, Emer Ryan, Elaine Feeney, Katie Wright, Grainne Egan, Charlotte Delaney, Laura Nerney, Michelle Sinnott and Leanne Cushen.
The Under 14 team had a great start to the season winning the Laois Feile competition thereby representing Laois at the National Feile Peil na nÓg finals in Galway. The team followed up their Feile success by winning the club’s first Under 14 title beating Sarsfield’s in the final in O’Moore Park on a score line of 6-7 to 1-4. The winning Under 14 panel included Sarah Ann Fitzgerald, Helen Murphy, Aisling O’Keeffe, Marion O’Connor, Karen Murphy, Tara Moran, Rebecca Kelly, Charlotte Delaney, Grainne Egan, Emma Snotty, Tanya Maher, Liadhan Cushen, Catherine Delaney, Karen Lantry, Lorraine McCormack, Laura Brothwood, Gemma Lawlor, Aisling Phelan, Paula Moran, Clodagh Donovan, Roisin Quigley, Aoife Duff, Karen Seal, Louise Cawley and Vanessa Finlay. The manager was Gerry Cawley with mentors Sean Murphy, Martin Sinnott, Gretta Kelly, Phil O’Keeffe, Theresa Cawley and Pauline Moran.
The u-12 team were going for three in a row in 2003 and having qualified for the final again they beat Ballyroan on a score line of 4-6 to 1-6 thanks to three late goals by player of the match Sarah Ann Fitzgerald and a penalty saved by Amy Dunne. The panel included Amy Dunne, Lauren Boyne, Chloe Farrell, Aideen Fitzpatrick, Denita McGrath, Sarah Bohane, Eve Culleton, Grainne Brothwood, Kate Dunne, Dawn Mortimer, Sarah Ann Fitzgerald, Edel Gilligan, Ciamh Dollard, Martina Byrne, Ellen Healey, Aoife Dunne, Rachael Conroy, Aisling McKenna, Aideen Tobin, Alison Taylor, Gemma Byrne, Aisling Keogh, Joanne Smith, and Laura Leogue. The team managers were Sean Dunne and Seamus Brady with mentor Patricia Brothwood.
By the start of the 2004 season the Ladies Club had grown to be in a position to enter teams at Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Minor level. The minors were beaten in their first match played on a knock out system. If defeat was the lot of the minor team the girls more than made up for it winning the club’s first Under 16 championship under lights in Crettyard where they beat Shanahoe on a score line of 3-9 to 1-4. The winning panel included: Lorraine McCormack, Olga Parkinson (captain), Tara Moran. Helen Murphy, and Rebecca Kelly, Laura Nerney, Elaine Feeney, Ciamh Dollard, Liadhan Cushen, Caroline Lawless, Michelle O’Connor, Fiona O’Connor, Charlotte Delaney, Rachael Monaghan, Laura Byrne, Emma Sinnott, Catherine Delaney Katie Wright, Sarah Ann Fitzgerald, Kate Dunne, Laura Brothwood, Martina Byrne. The management team were Sean Dunne Seamus Brady, Patricia Brothwood, Noreen Byrne Bernie O’Connor and Martin Sinnott. At Under 14 level the team had a clean sweep winning the Laois Feile competition as well as the League and Championship to make it two in a row. The Under 12 team were going for four in a row but were beaten in the championship by Crettyard. However they gained some revenge by beating the same opposition in the league final on a score of Portlaoise 1-10 Crettyard 0-7.
2005 was an outstanding year for the Ladies Club winning the Under 12, Under 14 and Under 16 league and championship competitions. The Under 14 team were also narrowly beaten in the Feile Peil na nÓg All Ireland final in the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. At adult level the club also won its first junior title since 1991 as well as reaching the minor final where they lost after a replay.
The Under 12s beat St Conleths in their final on a score line of Portlaoise 2-7 St Conleths 1-5. The u-12 team also won the league beating St. Conleths again in the final. Portlaoise panel: Leanne Ward, Aine O’Connor, Annie Heffernan, Aine Heaney, Grainne Brothwood, Shannon Moran, Ciara Delaney, Joanne Smith, Alison Taylor, Alison Fennelly, Rachael Conroy, Emma Harney, Aishling Bohane, Aisling Kehoe, Rachael Sinnott, Ciara O’Keeffe, Maeve O’Reilly, Adele Leogue, Lorna Deegan, Aisling Burke, Emma Redmond and Claire Fitzgerald. Mentors Seamus Heaney, John Bohane, Paula Moran and Phil O’Keeffe.
The Under 14 team started the year of in great fashion by beating Crettyard to win the Laois Feile and represented the county later in the year in the finals in Limerick. In the championship they had wins over Ballyroan, Shanahoe, St. Conleths and Crettyard in the group stages before beating Shanahoe again in the semi-final. In the final they were to meet St Conleths and won out 4-15 to 0-2 to win to win the three in a row.
In the league Portlaoise progressed to the final were they met Ballyroan and after a hard fought game won 4-4 to 0-4 to win their third league final in a row. In the All Ireland Feile nÓg Finals, Portlaoise produced a series of top class displays to claim a place in the final. Based in Boherbue in Cork, Portlaoise got off to good start winning 4-4 to 0-0 against their hosts and then travelled to Abbeyfeale where they defeated the home team Fr. Casey’s by 8-5 to 0-0. Joanne Smith represented the club in the skills competition at 11 years of age and came second in the competition. In the final group game Portlaoise drew with Cahir from Tipperary and had to play extra time which they won before travelling to play Knockbride of Cavan in the semi-final. After a tough battle the Town came out successful to eventually win 4-6 to 2-2. With tired bodies and sore limbs an SOS went out for the late Ned Murphy (physio). While Ned was involved with Toomevara in Tipperary he made his way to Limerick on the Sunday morning to try and mend the many sore limbs and knocks. The final was played at 2pm in the Gaelic grounds Limerick. The opposition was the Banner from Clare (Ennis) who were beaten in the previous two finals by one point. The Banner got off to a better start and were 0-4 to 0-0 up at half time. The second half started better for the Town girls and they drew level scoring 1-1. However a late goal for the Banner meant third time lucky for them and heartbreak for Portlaoise. The panel included Kate Dunne, Amy Dunne, Eve Culleton, Aideen Fitzpatrick, Ellen Healy, Cloe Farrell, Alison Taylor, Dawn Mortimer, Clodagh Brennan, Edel Gilligan, Sarah Cripps, Sarah Ann Fitzgerald, Aideen Tobin, Michelle Lynch, Rachael Conroy, Ciamh Dollard, Martina Byrne, Aoife Dunne, Jessie Brennan, Aisling Keogh, Joanne Smith, Sarah Bohane, Gemma Byrne, Laura Leogue, Katie O’Dea and Aisling McKenna. Manager Sean Dunne and Seamus Brady mentor Phil O’Keeffe Patricia Brothwood.
Portlaoise won its first junior title since it was reformed in 2000 and fourth in all. Wins over Killeshin, Shanahoe and Sarsfield’s in the group stages qualified them for the semi- final, against Crettyard. In a one sided game Portlaoise came out on top by 6-24 to 1-2 where the Portlaoise ladies were much too strong for the opposition from R&C Gaels winning on a score line of 5-8 to 0-1. The panel included Ciamh Dollard, Helen Murphy, Amy Dunphy, Caroline Lawless, Tara Moran, Fiona O’Connor, Rebecca Kelly, Laura Nerney, Aishling Gorman, Emma Sinnott, Claire Dunne, Martina Byrne, Lorraine McCormack, Laura Byrne, Aishling Heaney, Natasha Brady, Aoibhe Culleton Catherine Delaney, Roisin O’Connor, Marion O’Connor, Laura Brothwood, Michelle O’Connor, Charlotte Delaney, Sarah Ann Fitzgerald, Kate Dunne, Megan Rigney, Briana McCrory and Elaine Feeney.
In 2006 the club entered teams at u-12 u-14 u-16 minor junior and intermediate levels. At Under 14 level Portlaoise won the league and championship double for a fourth time in a row. In the championship Portlaoise had wins over St. Conleths, R&C Gaels and Sarsfield’s in the group stage before defeating Crettyard in the semi-final. In the final Portlaoise defeated Barrowhouse by 4-9 to 0-4.
Portlaoise: Ciamh Dollard, Annie Heffernan, Clodagh Brennan, Sarah Delaney, Alison Finely, Chloe Farrell, Aisling Saunders, Ellen Healy, Joanne Smyth, Grainne Brothwood, Rachel Conroy, Aisling Burke, Rachel Sinnott, Aisling Kehoe, Laura Leogue.
Substitutes: Katie O’ Dea for Annie Heffernan, Nicola Flaherty for Sarah Delaney, Isabel Delaney for Ciamh Dollard, Sarah Bohane for Aisling Burke, Jennifer Farrell for Rachel Sinnott, Niamh O’ Brien, Breda O’ Rourke, Keva Saunders, Elaine Gavin, Ellen Geaney, Adele Leogue, Leanne Greene, Louis Swayne, Shannon Moran.
Managers: Pat Leogue, Eddie Brennan, Phil O’Keeffe and Seamus Brady.
In April of 2006 the Portlaoise Ladies under 14 footballers were honoured to represent the club and county at the Feile Peile International Competition which hosted by Warwickshire GAA and held in Birmingham. This weekend event involved flying to Birmingham for the weekend with two nine a side teams to take part in a competition which involved over 450 boys and girls from 38 football teams around Britain and Ireland in what had become Britain’s premier youth Gaelic football festival. The girl’s competition on Saturday/Sunday 22nd/23rd April 2006 involved Eire Óg of Carlow and An Tocher of Wicklow; British teams from Erin go Bragh, Blessed George Napier School, St. Peters School, Bishop Challoner School as well as the Portlaoise Ladies teams.
Two nine aside teams from the club were invited to participate in this prestigious event and club officials back in Ireland were thrilled when news filtered through that both Portlaoise teams had qualified for the competition Final, where the Portlaoise A team narrowly defeated the B team.
Having qualified for the Cup competition on the Saturday both Portlaoise teams excelled although special mention must go to the “B” team which came from behind to defeat Eire Óg from Carlow to qualify to meet the Portlaoise A team in the final. In the final of the Feile Peile International competition Portlaoise A ran out winners in the second half although they were fully tested by an impressive performance by the Portlaoise B team. Portlaoise Ladies u14 footballers added to their collection of silverware further on Sunday evening, when Rachel Conroy was nominated player of the tournament and Joanne Smyth came 3rd in the Feile Peile International Skills competition as runner up in the qualifying sections.
All 19 Portlaoise players competed in each match in an exceptional well organised competition on grounds provided by Erdington Local Council and the Erin go Bragh Club. On behalf of the club Pat Leogue presented a token of appreciation a Portlaoise club jersey to Eimear Holland a Portlaoise native who was teaching at Bishop Challoner School in Birmingham. The victorious Portlaoise team were given a hero’s welcome on Monday night at a reception organised by the Ladies GAA club. A special word of thanks to Phil O’ Keeffe Secretary of the Portlaoise Ladies Club for all her hard work in organising the weekend. The successful Portlaoise panel who travelled to Birmingham were; Chloe Farrell, ( A Captain), Ellen Healy, Aisling Kehoe, Annie Heffernan, Rachel Conroy, Katie O’Dea, Clodagh Brennan, Leanne Greene, Joanne Smyth, Louise Swayne, Keva Saunders, Lara Leogue, Sarah Bohane(B Captain), Adele Leogue, Sarah Delaney, Aisling Saunders, Alison Finlay, Ellen Geaney, Jennifer Farrell. Mentors: Pat Leogue & Eddie Brennan (coaches), Ann Smyth & Mary Delaney with assistance from Ben and Bernadette Conroy and Edel Brennan.
In the Intermediate championship Portlaoise had wins over Ballyroan 5-5 to 1-6 and St. Conleths 2-11 to 2-10 before accounting for Ratheniska in the semi-final 2-9 to 0-8, beating St Conleths in the final by Portlaoise 2-10 to St. Conleths 1-2. This was another historic achievement for the club as the first win at Intermediate level after four Junior championship successes over the 21 year history of the club. The panel of players who made the big breakthrough to senior level was: Amy Dunne, Amy Dunphy, Natasha Brady, Caroline Lawless, Fiona O’Connor, Helen Murphy, Rebecca Kelly, Laura Nerney, Aishling Gorman, Martina Byrne, Sarah Ann Fitzgerald, Lorraine Mc Cormack, Aishling O’Keeffe, Clare Dunne, Olga Parkinson, Charlotte Delaney, Edel Gilligan, Emma Sinnott, Marion O’Connor, Kate Dunne, Martina Cripps, Tara Moran, Carol Fennell, Clodagh Brennan, Catherine Delaney, Ciamh Dollard and Laura Byrne. Management: Sean Dunne, Eddie Brennan, Seamus Brady and mentors Phil O’Keeffe, Mary Murphy and Gretta Kelly.
Hopes were high for 2007 and the year started with a win in the Under16A League Final. The winning panel was: Amy Dunne Eve Culleton Kate Dunne Marion O’Connor Clodagh Brennan Ellen Healy Aisling Saunders Rebecca Kelly Martina Cripps Martina Byrne Edel Gilligan Clodagh Donovan Aisling Keogh Aisling O’Keeffe Caoimhe Dollard Subs Rachael Conroy Katie O’Dea Joanne Smith Michelle Lynch Nicola Flaherty Jennifer Farrell Chloe Farrell.
Having qualified for the senior championship after the Intermediate success the previous year Portlaoise lost both their senior championship matches to Timahoe and Crettyard.
The minor team won the first minor championship for the club, a tremendous feat and well deserved for a bunch of girls who had been at the forefront of the revival of the club since 2000. Following final defeats in 2005 and 2006 this was the culmination of a lot of work by the girls and their mentors. In the final the team beat Sarsfields on a score of 1-5 to 1-4. The panel for that first minor win included Aisling Saunders, Ellen Healy, Aisling Keogh, Emma Sinnott, Helen Murphy, Chloe Farrell, Rebecca Kelly, Kate Dunne, Alison Taylor, Eve Culleton, Clodagh Brennan, Ciamh Dollard, Marion O’Connor, Michelle Lynch, Rachel Conroy, Edel Gilligan, Martina Byrne, Lorraine McCormack, Amy Dunne, Martina Cripps, Aisling O’Keeffe, Sarah Ann Fitzgerald.
The Under 12’s had wins over Ratheniska, Borris in Ossory and Timahoe in the group stages of the league before losing to eventual champions The Heath. In the championship the girls were beaten by St Conleths and eventual champions Sarsfield’s.
The Under 14’s were team of the year in the club winning League, Laois Feile, Championship, and the All Ireland Feile Peil na nÓg in Leitrim. Portlaoise had wins over R/C Gaels, Shanahoe and Ballyroan in the League and defeated Sarsfield’s in the final on a score of 2-13 to 0-3. Portlaoise won their 5th under 14 championships in a row with wins over Timahoe, Ballylinan/ St Joseph and Sarsfield’s.
In 2007 the All Ireland FeilePeil na nÓg was held in Roscommon, Sligo, and Leitrim. Portlaoise Ladies represented Laois in this year’s competition for the fifth year in a row. They arrived in their host club, St. Brigid’s of Roscommon on Friday afternoon and were greeted with a very warm welcome and brilliant hospitality.
The first game of the tournament saw Portlaoise playing their host team and overcome the challenge comfortably, after a long journey. That evening the team participated in the Annual Parade in Carrick on Shannon.
On Saturday morning the Portlaoise girls played their second game against another Roscommon team, Clan na Gael who were a tougher challenge for the girls but Portlaoise were the more dominant side and won on a score –line of 2 – 0 to 0-2 for Clan na Gael.
The third game was the game that would decide whether the girls would go forward to the semi-finals. Portlaoise played St. Rynagh’s of Offaly in this game and it was a very tough encounter for the girls and they had to give it their all in the game, with Niamh O’Brien pulling off two magnificent saves including a penalty. Portlaoise lead at half time on a score line of 2 – 4 to 1 – 1. Portlaoise made a very promising start in the second half with a goal from the boot of Aisling Keogh but St. Rynagh’s came back strongly and Portlaoise held on for a four point victory to progress to the semi-final stages of the competition.
The semi-finals were held in Leitrim village, which meant the girls had to travel a one and half hour journey to play their next game. They faced Carbury from Kildare in the semi-finals. Portlaoise came out onto the field with all guns blazing and played some excellent football, creating some brilliant moves. They lead at half time on a score line of 1 –3 to 0-1. Carbury did not score in the second half because of the tireless and brilliant defensive work of all six Portlaoise defenders who were extremely reliable throughout the competition. Portlaoise went on to win the match on a score of 5 –6 to 0-1 thereby qualifying to meet the Tyrone champions in the final.
The final was played in the newly opened stadium in Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim. The Tyrone champions opened the play with a point, but Aisling Keogh followed with two more goals and a point leaving the half time score 3 –1 to 0-2. Portlaoise kept their cool and played some brilliant football with their defenders making sure of some vital blocks and interceptions preventing their opposition from scoring at all in the second half. The Portlaoise forwards provided the crowd with an exhibition of scores and teamwork and every player played their heart out and had to do so in order to overcome a strong Tyrone team. Portlaoise finished victoriously on a score-line of 4 – 6 to 0- 2 points making them the All Ireland Feile Peil na nÓg Division 2 Champions for 2007.
Portlaoise were extremely well managed and looked after by their mentors Pat Leogue, Seamus Heaney, Phil O’Keeffe, Ann Smyth and Pauline Moran, who were a great inspiration to the girls not just for the Feile weekend, but also for the whole year. The girls really did both their club and county very proud in the competition and returned home with the All-Ireland title which was accepted on behalf of the girls by their captain Rachel Conroy.
After the incredible achievements of the early years of the Millennium it was inevitable that there would be a loss of momentum at some stage. In the years between 2008 and 2012 the level of volunteerism and commitment never wavered with the committee, mentors and parents all continuing the coaching and development work with the growing number of under age teams. The development of the Senior team was watched with keen interest with an appearance in the the league final in 2008 and semi final appearances for the Junior team in 2008 and 2010. The highlight of 2008 was the Minor championship win retaining the title won in 2007. The Under 16 team won the league and the Under 14’s won the B Championship in 2008 against St. Conleths.
By 2010 the Under 14 team gave an indication of things to come playing brilliantly to get into the Feile final and county final but they were extremely unlucky to lose out to St. Conleths in both by three points.
The Under12’s also had a great year reaching the ‘C’ Final where they were beaten in extra time by Graiguecullen. In 2011 and 2012 the Under 14 footballers again proved to be the torch bearers for the club winning all three competitions in 2011 – Laois Feile, League and Championship and representing the club at the national finals. In 2012 while not retaining the championship title the Under 14 team won the league title once more.
The highlight of 2013 for the Ladies Club was winning the Under 12 championship for the first time since 2005. In the final the girls beat Graiguecullen by 1-5 to 0-5. The impact of this achievement was to act as a catalyst for the success that followed in subsequent years.
At Under 14 the girls were beaten by eventual finalists St Pauls and in the Under 16 championship Portlaoise reached the semi final before losing to Sarsfields who went on to win the championship. Similarly at Minor defeat in the first round meant an early exit from the Championship. The senior team reached the League Final but were unlucky to be beaten by Sarsfields again.
2014 marked another historic occasion for the Portlaoise Ladies club when the Senior team won the Senior B championship for the first time. Having reached the final against Shanahoe the girls found themselves eight points down at half time in O’Moore Park. In true Portlaoise style the girls battled back to force a draw before comprehensively winning the replay in Stradbally, defeating Shanahoe 2-11 to 1-6. The management team consisted of Sean Dunne (Straboe), Sean Dunne (Ballyfin), Seamus Brady, Bridie O’Reilly, Rosaleen O’Neill.
The Under 12 ladies won their championship for the second year in a row beating Graiguecullen in the final. This group of girls have a unique history as they were the first group to win championships at Ladies Football and Camogie as the Under 12 Camogie team beat Camross to win their first ever championship.
The Under 14 team had a good year in the Championship making it all the way to the final before losing out to Sarsfields by 3-9 to 3-7 in what was a great match. While the Under 16’s failed to make the knockout stages the Minor team reached the semi-final where they were defeated by St Conleths.
Another significant achievement for Portlaoise Ladies football in 2015 was the fact that the club fielded two teams at Under 12 level winning the A and C championships. A further indication of the talent in the club was that this was the third year in a row to win the Under 12 championship.
The Under 14 Ladies team had an amazing year winning three titles. With very large numbers at this level two teams were entered into the league & championship. They started the year in February winning the county Feile competition. They travelled to Wexford for the All-Ireland Feile where they played great competitive games and progressed to play in the Shield semi- final where they narrowly missed out on progressing to the final. On their return they continued with the championship and made it all the way to the county final where they comprehensively defeated Shanahoe. They then entered the All-Ireland 7’s competition in Kilmacud and once again this amazing team came home with success after winning the All Ireland Plate final. This was the first occasion that a Laois team won an All-Ireland 7’s competition.
The Under 16 team had a good year making it to the B final where they were beaten by a point by Shanahoe. In 2015 the long wait for the breakthrough at senior level continued although progress was made with the team performing at a very high standard and reaching the semi-final where they were defeated by Sarsfields in the semi-final in O’Moore Park.