Sport

‘I push women’s soccer every opportunity I get’

May 25th, 2021 9:20 AM

By Southern Star Team

New West Cork League PRO Kathy Kennefick and her husband John Kennefick along with their children, Emma, Cian and AJ.

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KATHY Kennefick is making her presence felt since she was elected on to the West Cork League Committee.

Similar to the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League’s Teri Cronin, Kennefick’s presence on the WCL committee sees another woman stepping forward to take on an important role in local soccer.

Kennefick is well known in the Ballineen-Enniskeane area from her involvement in numerous volunteer groups and organisations. The former Riverside Athletic and current Aultagh Celtic club member is a lifelong soccer fan and is relishing her new role as WCL PRO.

‘I am stuck in a lot of organisations in my local area like Foróige, Civil Defence and the Ballineen-Enniskeane first responders so it shouldn’t have come as a shock when I decided to yes to another role as the West Cork League’s PRO,’ Kennefick explains.

‘It all came about having attended a number of West Cork League meetings with Eddie O’Connell as Aultagh Celtic delegates. The first AGM was held on Zoom after Covid hit, Eddie told me he was running late so I had to pop on to the meeting on my own. Somewhere along the line, I ended up being nominated for PRO and was delighted to accept.

‘Obviously, things have been difficult for the league because of Covid but, hopefully, we will have plenty of games to organise and promote sometime in the near future.’

It is refreshing to see another woman assuming such an important committee role. Kennefick was welcomed with open arms and is fortunate to have such an experienced group of fellow committee members to call upon for advice.

‘Soccer was always known as a man’s sport, not just in West Cork, but more and more women are getting involved now and that’s very important,’ the West Cork League PRO says.

‘Things are improving and an email has gone out to all the West Cork League clubs asking for U18 girls’ teams. We are just trying to gauge interest because the committee believes there are a lot of 17- and 18-year-old girls out there who would play soccer if a league was organised for them. That would be the first step in establishing a new age-grade for that particular group.

‘The lads on the West Cork League committee are great. I am involved in every decision and they listen to my point of view. My vote counts and, to be fair to them, they are very accommodating to me especially as I push women’s soccer every opportunity I get. They have been receptive to any suggestions I have come up with.

‘As I said earlier, because of Covid, we have not been able to get things going but all that will change soon enough as the committee looks to organise summer leagues and cups.

‘My big hope for the future is to have a full 11-a-side outdoor league up and running for women in West Cork once again. The current seven-a-side model on Astro pitches is brilliant but there is no reason, with enough interest, that we can’t get a women’s league, similar to the men’s, up and running sometime in the future.

Football appears to have been ever present in the Kennefick household for as long as Kathy can remember. Married to John and raising three children, Cian (16), Emma (9) and AJ (5), she had already dedicated a huge portion of her life to two West Cork League clubs before agreeing to join the WCL committee.

A parent, coach and committee member, some of Kathy’s most memorable football moments came in the colours of both Riverside and Aultagh as a West Cork Women’s League player.

‘I was involved with Riverside Athletic for at least 15 years and then with Aultagh Celtic for around the last five years,’ Kennefick says.

‘I played one full season of 11-a-side with Riverside many years ago. Then I trained Athletic’s U14 and U16 schoolgirls teams and we enjoyed a bit of success with a talented squad that included Sinead Caulfield, Aine O’Donovan, Danielle Jackson and Katie Buttimer.

‘The year before last, with Aultagh, I was managing their West Cork League Women’s team before ending up playing a few games whenever they were stuck.’

Kennefick and her fellow West Cork League committee members are gearing up for a busy summer. A recent WCL statement outlined how clubs can begin playing friendlies from June 7th until restarting competitions on June 20th.

Depending on the requisite number of entries, the West Cork League wants to run (junior men’s) Beamish Cup, Premier Cup and Championship Cups between June and August. WCL boys’ U17 and U19 Leagues, women’s and girls’ U18 plus the hugely popular West Cork Masters competitions are also being pencilled in. Further details on the number of clubs entering, how many competitions will go ahead and the start dates for each should be announced in the coming weeks.

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