Gaelic4Mothers&Others another success story in Ballyboughal
By Cian O’Connell
It started as an idea in Ballyboughal and the most recent adventure included a rewarding trip to Madrid. So the Ballyboughal Gaelic4Mothers&Others campaign has been a real success story.
Former players have been attracted back to the fold, while women with no previous attachment or significant sporting experience have also worn the green and white jersey. Tracey Connell has served Ballyboughal in a number of roles and acknowledges that the initiative has brought joy to those involved.
“I hope it keeps on growing and keeps the ethos,” Connell says about the Gaelic4Mothers&Others drive. “Just for this group of women I'm absolutely amazed, it is the most rewarding job I do in the club, it really is.
“It is everywhere now. You have three or four clubs in Swords, the Naul, Ballyboughal, Balbriggan, it is unreal. You'd love for people to be aware that it is out there. I hope it keeps going the way it is.”
One of the most active Healthy Clubs, spearheaded by Joanne Cahill, Ballyboughal continue to provide a valuable service to the local community. “At the start of 2018 around March we got together,” Connell explains about how the Gaelic4Mothers&Others commenced in the club.
“I'm talking about literally mothers and others and it is nearly evolving into a casual Junior B thing at the minute to be honest. We've middle aged women, who had never played football.
“Joanne was behind the Healthy Clubs and we would be a very fit village in general. There is always something going on even if it is just classes for the craic, you'd have village walks on a Sunday morning.
“There is just always something going on. So we just came up with the idea to start it, to see how it would go.”
Numbers were decent from the outset and Connell just found that the relaxed approach to training simply worked. “We have about 25 at the minute,” Connell says. “In the pub it was discussed, like all the great ideas. We just came up with the idea to see how it goes. I'm from the village originally, but I have met so many people I didn't know.
“It is a mixture of people that were in the club already. We've a few mammies that would have started in our original team 20 years ago who hadn't played for years.
“We set up a ladies team back maybe 15 or 20 years ago or so. We trained with 10 or 12 people for years and we were hammered for years, but we kept at it and now we have a successful ladies team. We are now still involved, a lot of people who set up the original team.”
The fun and fitness element is what attracts women according to Connell, who is delighted with the impact of the scheme in Ballyboughal. “That is the whole idea around the Gaelic4Mothers&Others, that it isn't competitive,” Connell admits.
“You don't keep scores, it is about the social element, going out, having fun. Every match you have your tea, coffee, and biscuits afterwards. There is a League, but there is no recording of the scores. We have a game every fortnight, you have training one week and a match the following week.
“One night a week is what we train, it is very basic training. I probably have 10 women in their 50s, we had about seven who played in the past and a few who dabbled. Overall I have 10 who had never touched a football in their life except for throwing their kids' footballs into the car.”
The stint in Madrid also proved to be a hugely satisfying weekend for everybody involved. “One of our ladies team is over there as part of her degrees, she just text me as a joke saying she was lost over there, any chance the mothers and others would come over,” Connell laughs.
“I put it up in the WhatsApp group saying girls we have been invited to Madrid if anybody is interested, thinking it was a joke. If they were all as quick to reply for training! They are the nicest bunch of women, they all just took a role to get it organised.
“We played a team called Madrid Harps, who basically are a team who just got involved in Gaelic Football in Spain. Some of them were Irish, it is essentially a University team. She got a game, and a weekend, she moved in with us for the weekend.
“It was great craic, it was a great team building thing. For a lot of the women it would have been their first time ever away from their partners for the weekend because they are a bit older so it was absolutely great.”