BY GER McCARTHY
THE decision to amalgamate Muintir Bhaire and Gabriel Rangers ladies football clubs proved a wise choice following their recent West Cork LGFA Division 3 final success.
Muintir Bhaire chairperson Doreen Pyburn was just one of the many individuals who played vital roles in helping the two rural clubs join forces at adult level and become Muintir Gabriels.
A drop in playing numbers prompted a decision that reaped dividends following Muintir Gabriels’ 3-10 to 1-12 defeat of O’Donovan Rossa following a cracking Division 3 final in Union Hall recently. That success was well deserved but didn’t happen overnight.
‘We were looking at our declining playing numbers during a Muintir Bhaire AGM a couple of years ago and realised we would only have about 15 adult players available to us,’ Pyburn told The Southern Star.
‘Following that AGM, it was mentioned that Gabriel Rangers were in the same boat as ourselves when it came to (declining) playing numbers. I immediately caught the phone and rang Gabriel Rangers’ club chairman who told me they would be open to a possible amalgamation.
‘I was put in touch with Gabriel’s Denise Collins and the rest is history. Denise and I brought up the idea of amalgamating our two clubs at separate meetings. Both clubs were happy to try it out and to see how things would go.’
The first Muintir Gabriels adult training session took place in late February 2018. Things went well despite the amalgamated clubs shipping a few heavy defeats in their early outings but that was all part of the journey to the recent West Cork final success at the expense of O’Donovan Rossa.
‘Aidan Coughlan (Gabriel Rangers) took over the management of the team and got us going really,’ Pyburn noted.
‘A lot is down to the belief of the girls involved as well. Many of us who started back in 2018 – and have been playing for many years – were on the pitch the last night after the Division 3 final win which made it all the more special.
‘It was our intense training sessions that got us there and that’s down to our management trio of Aidan, Denise Collins and Ferguson Minihane (all Gabriel Rangers) pushing us on, encouraging us and moulding us into a proper team.
‘Lifting the trophy was an extra special moment simply because of all the hard work that went in and the fact there were plenty of naysayers who didn’t believe the amalgamation would work.
‘As a result, new friendships and a strong bond has been formed between the Muintir Bhaire and Gabriel Rangers clubs. Everyone just wants to play football and play at a competitive level. We have achieved that now even though it was a long time coming. You can’t buy the joy of winning trophy, you just can’t and the motivation is there now to keep going.’
A first West Cork ladies’ football adult title in the bag, Muintir Gabriels could be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years following a brave decision to amalgamate.