BY KIERAN McCARTHY
CASTLEHAVEN’s first-ever adult ladies football team has got the backing of a nine-time All-Ireland winner.
In the past two weeks, the club’s junior ladies football team has played two games in the county league Division 4C – including its maiden victory, at home against Muintir Bhaire last Thursday night (3-11 to 1-6).
Prior to that, Castlehaven’s opening match was a loss to St Peter’s (5-16 to 2-6), and their home game against St Brigid’s last Saturday that was postponed would have been notable for another reason – former Cork ladies football star Nollaig Cleary was expected to make her Castlehaven debut.
In fact, it would have been Cleary’s first-ever game for the Haven.
‘I played with Gabriel Rangers all through my career, and enjoyed every moment of it, at a time when there wasn’t a Castlehaven junior ladies team, so it’s fantastic now that there is an opportunity for the girls involved in the underage setup to go on and play with Castlehaven at adult level,’ explained Cleary, who retired from the Cork inter-county setup last year.
The addition of a former All-Star footballer is a big boost to this new Castlehaven ladies’ team, and even if she won’t feature in every game, Cleary’s experience and profile will help this team in its infancy.
‘We are not expecting instant success this year or next year – we are building for the future here,’ explained Castlehaven GAA ladies’ chairperson Marie Buckley who also manages the team with Tina Browne, while Dinny Cahalane, Tony McAuliffe and Brian Hourihane are also involved.
‘It’s great too that Nollaig Cleary has come on board with us as well. She has transferred back to us and that’s a great boost and endorsement for the club.
‘We’ve had so much support from so many people since we’ve set up the club. It’s great to see it grow and get bigger. The players we have now are delighted to play for the club and the parish.
‘We set up the club in 2013 and we started off with the U12s. Then last year we added U14, U16 and minor teams, and it was always our hope to have a junior ladies team. Some of the girls who played minor last year were overage this year so we wanted to give them a chance to continue playing football,’ Buckley said.
At the ladies’ club AGM at Moneyvolihane at the end of November, the decision was made to enter a ladies adult team at junior grade for 2016. That idea came to fruition in March when the team took part it its first-ever adult game. Onwards and upwards.
As well as the county league, the team will also compete in the West Cork Junior C Football League.