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Tuesday 21 January 2020

Shels mark 20 years since historic All-Ireland win

At the get together celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Shelmaliers ladies team’s All-Ireland win, in The Porter House, Castlebridge
At the get together celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Shelmaliers ladies team’s All-Ireland win, in The Porter House, Castlebridge

Pádraig Byrne

When the final whistle was blown in the All Ireland Ladies Football Club Championship Final in Portarlington back in 1999, some of the Shelmaliers ladies were overcome with emotion.

The Castlebridge club had overcome all the odds to clinch a historic All-Ireland title, needing a replay to overcome Mayo footballing royalty in the form of Hollymount.

Twenty years on, members of the team and management gathered at The Porter House in Castlebridge to watch the games back on the big screen and reflect on what had been a monumental achievement.

'The thing about that Hollymount team was that it had eight of the Mayo players that had won the Senior All-Ireland final on a couple of occasions,' reflected team manager Pat Quill. 'I suppose it would almost be like going out to face the Dublin footballers now. In the semi final we had also beaten a Monaghan team that had 7 inter-county players on the panel at the time too and were a very good team.'

With Shels and Hollymount having reached a stalemate at the first time of asking, the replayed final was set for Portarlington and was not without controversy. When the final whistle was blown with Shels winning on a scoreline of 3-8 to 3-4, referee Michael Henry was attacked by furious fans of the Mayo club.

'They weren't happy with the beating you could say,' laughs Pat. 'We were ten points down after 14 minutes in the game, so it was a brilliant comeback.'

Both the first final and the replay were watched on the big screen by some 19 members of the panel at their get together to mark two decades since the historic win. While some of the panel had emigrated and gone on to different things, remarkably three of the players from the '99 final are still lining out with Shels 20 years later - Leona Tector, Maeve Quill and Michelle Hearn.

'It was a great night,' said the team manager. 'I hadn't seen some of the girls for a long time and it was lovely to meet up and watch the games back.'

Wexford People

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