Leading ladies celebrate breakthrough junior title
Incoming and outgoing presidents attend function
The Wexford ladies footballers who collected the All-Ireland Junior title in 2014 were presented with their medals at a celebration dinner in the Ferrycarrig Hotel on Friday.
On September 28, 2014, Wexford finally collected an All-Ireland title at adult level after coming so close before to winning a national crown. The game itself will be remembered for a super goal by Maria Byrne near the end of the opening half and some unbelievable saves by Mary Rose Kelly on a day when Wexford were good but far from their brilliant best, however the shackles of never winning an All-Ireland have been cast to one side and they can step forward into Intermediate ranks with confidence.
The presentation night began with the launch of a book to commemorate the success in 2014. Team coach Noel Holohan joined forces with photographer Michael Cullen to produce a 96-page book called 'It's All About Pace'.
The name of the book came about from something manager Billy Donnelly used many times in team meetings and the dressing-room, as with a youthful side the best way to unlock defences was to use the abundant pace and speed.
The book steps through the season with match reports from the National League, Leinster championship and the All-Ireland championship, the build-up to the All-Ireland final and the wonderful journey home on the Monday and Tuesday after the All-Ireland final.
Mixed with the text are beautiful photographs from behind the scenes as Michael Cullen travelled with the team throughout the season in 2014. The book was launched by team manager Billy Donnelly, captain Clara Donnelly and her midfield partner Róisín Murphy.
After a glorious meal was served, master of ceremonies Liam Spratt got the presentation under way and his wit and humour certainly added to the occasion. Peadar O'Connor, former Chairman of the Wexford Ladies' Board, spoke of his delight in being involved during the 2014 campaign, and thanked the players and management for their hard work in winning the title.
He praised Billy Donnelly and his management team for pushing everyone that extra step to make sure that success was achieved. Peadar, Andrea Cooney-Rowe (outgoing Secretary) and Billy Stafford (outgoing Treasurer) were all presented with a token of appreciation from the County Board, with new county Chairman Denis Nolan from Taghmon-Camross praising them for their hard work.
Both incoming and outgoing Presidents of the Ladies' Football Association, Marie Hickey from Laois and Pat Quill, attended. Former Leinster President Marie Hickey was up first to present the Leinster Junior medals.
Marie said that she was 'lucky enough to witness Wexford's run to glory in 2014', and she told the Wexford girls to make the jump forward with confidence and push on to win an Intermediate title sooner rather than later.
Pat Quill, who is standing down after a six-year double term as national President, spoke of his enormous pride in his final year to present his clubmate Clara Donnelly with the West County Hotel Cup on September 28. Pat congratulated the whole team of players, the management team and the County Board for combining their efforts to see the county over the winning line.
Pat will be remembered for his hard work to bring the game from strength to strength both at home in Ireland and across the globe, where he has pushed forward the game in places like Asia, Australia, the United States of America and across Europe to see membership numbers continue to grow.
Pat presented 29 All-Ireland medals to the players of the winning team and also presented an All-Ireland medal to the backroom team for their efforts in the success.
After this team captain Clara Donnelly thanked everyone for their hard work, and noted her pride of captaining such a talented bunch of players.
She said how the friendship and unity in the panel was amazing in 2014.
She thanked the management with a beautiful photo collage for every member of the management team, while the girls also made a presentation to photographer Michael Cullen whose pictures from 2014 are framed in many houses around the county.
The commemorative book is available for €15 and will hit the shops of county Wexford in the coming week.
It will also be available from every club in the county. 2015 calendars are also available from locals club with all proceeds and profits being put towards the players' fund for 2015.
The 2015 campaign will get under way on Sunday at 2 p.m. when the girls travel to Dungarvan to take on Waterford.
A lot has changed in the Wexford camp with Shane McCormack, former Kildare footballer, in charge now, and he has a backroom team including Lizzy Kent (Adamstown), Paddy O'Sullivan (St. Fintan's) and Fiona Kehoe from Kilmore.
A difficult trip awaits in the opener with Waterford being a bogey team for the Model county, but reports from the camp have praised the new training being undertaken and certainly Wexford will have a new direction under the guidance of McCormack.