By their own high standards, the 2019/20 season has been a disappointing one for Bealnamulla Ladies senior football team.
They are out of contention for the Women’s Division title in the Combined Counties League as they languish in a mid-table position. Mullingar Athletic and Killeigh will fight it out to lift the title while Bealnamulla battle with their local rivals Willow Park for a top three position.
It was proving to be an inconsistent campaign for Gerry Mulvey’s charges. On their day they were a match for the best but too often dropped points against teams such as Birr Town, who generally they could get the better of.
No doubt the team will bounce back and get ready to claim more silverware which has arrived at the club in abundance over the years. The golden period for the club was undoubtedly the years between 2006 and 2010 when League and Cup wins were a regular occurrence. Then partnered with Athlone Town, the league was won for five years in a row and the double completed twice.
International recognition came for Jenny Byrne, Aisling Egan and Caitriona Dolan in 2010 as the local players made their mark on the national front. The club also received a merit award in that never to be forgotten year. Egan had earlier been awarded the CCFL player merit award in 2008. Capping off an amazing decade, the team won the women’s futsal final in the only year it was staged by the CCFL.
With a fine set up just off the Tuam Road boasting a floodlit pitch the club, steeped in success and history, has expanded over the years. Recent seasons have been less successful though as star players have moved on and new faces needed time to settle in.
Hopes were high for the new campaign when pre-season preparations started last August. Willow Park and Killeigh had become the new powers in the CCFL Women’s Division and Bealnamulla were anxious to get back among the winners.
The training was intense as the opening day of the season approached. The opener could not have been tougher as Willow awaited at DPD Park in mid-September. The game lived up to its top billing with the away team coming out winners by the odd goal in five. Level at the half time break as Yasmin Rodgers equalised, Bealnamulla went in front through Shaunagh Jackson. Rodgers stretched the lead and, although Willow cut the deficit to the bare minimum, the visitors held out. It was the perfect start to the campaign but one that was not built upon later.
First home game saw new club Mountmellick provide the opposition. The Offaly team were well beaten as the Bealnamulla bright start continued. A much tougher task was next as another Offaly team came to town. Killeigh were one of the fancied teams to win the League but Bealnamulla gave their own chances a major boost. First half goals from Rodgers and Angelina De Rosa had the home team on their way to another victory. Goalkeeper Noreen Devery was unbeatable between the posts as a third goal was scored by Nadine Ryan. It soon became four wins from four as Clara were dispatched next.
Unfortunately, the Offaly club were subsequently to drop out of the league. The unbeaten run continued with a share of the spoils against Birr but dropping points to lesser teams was to prove costly later on. The unbeaten run further stretched but a turning point in the campaign came with the visit of Willow Park in early December. The hosts were decimated by injuries and a missed penalty kick saw Willow return with all three points.
The response was admirable though as Mullingar Athletic were beaten. The New Year kicked off with hopes still high of winning the League but the extended break left Bealnamulla somewhat lethargic. Another draw with Birr and a defeat to Mullingar has shattered the dream.