Claregalway ladies added to their burgeoning reputation with a well-deserved and historic All-Ireland Intermediate club championship title on Saturday at Mullingar.
The young panel of players, who were well coached by Martin Costello, defeated an experienced Thomas Davis (Dublin ) outfit by 1-9 to 0-9.
It was the first time the intermediate title has come to a Galway club since 2001 when St Brendan's annexed the trophy. Kilkerrin/Clonberne also did the business at this grade in 1999.
The Claregalway team was captained by Fabienne Cooney from right corner back and the 22-years-old PE teacher led the team superbly and put in a fine defensive display.
Alongside her at full-back, Eimile Gavin gave a masterful display. Her reading of play was top class and she was invariably in the right place at the right time.
She also distributed the ball superbly and many of the Claregalway counter-attacks started from her good play.
The final cog in the full-back line was 15-years-old Ellie Glynn who has played in three Féile division one finals in the past. That experience stood her in good stead and she more than held her own at number four.
Her older sister, 16-years-old - Megan Glynn was selected as player of the match from left-half back. She was instrumental in setting up the decisive goal for her team as her slaloming run set up a goal chance for Charlotte Cooney, who was fouled for a penalty, that was hammered home by centre-forward Ciara Newell.
That goal, as well as points from Michelle Dunleavy, Deirdre Brennan and Ciara Burke, left the Galway champions leading at half time by 1-4 to 0-5.
Ciara Burke added another score for her side quickly after half time, but Dublin senior star Siobhán McGrath started to impose herself and Tomas Davis came back strongly. However, a few poor wides and some sterling defending by the Claregalway girls kept their lead intact.
Inspirational full-forward Deirdre Brennan played a key role in the final quarter. She powered through the heart of the Thomas Davis defence and was fouled for an easy free for Ciara Burke to score. Burke followed that score with two more points from play to bring her personal tally to five, and to push Claregalway into a five point lead.
Despite that lead, and it could have been more, the Dublin ladies rallied and brought it back to a three-point game. They also had a late chance for a goal, but it whizzed wide and with that miss, the trophy was heading west.
Already Claregalway ladies are plotting for an assault at a possible senior title in the coming years. They are an exceptionally young side with an average age of just 18.
If they can stay committed and focused to Gaelic football over the next few years, they have a wonderful window of opportunity to become one of the top senior sides in the country.
Senior club football will be a step up in class for Claregalway next season, and Mayo's Carnacon won yet another senior All-Ireland club title last weekend. As ever, they were hugely dependent on the extraordinary talent of nine times All-Star, Cora Staunton, who scored 1-5 of their 1-6 winning tally.
Hopefully, if the Claregalway ladies panel can be kept together, keep their heads, and stay committed to the game over the next few years and stay improving, they can become a genuine force in Connacht and beyond over the next few years at senior level.
Time will tell on that matter.
For now, it is great to see another ladies All-Ireland football crown in the county.
Claregalway: Hannah Coen, Fabienne Cooney (cpt ), Eimile Gavin, Ellie Glynn, Karen Dowd, Amy Rohan, Megan Glynn, Orla Dixon, Siobhan Gavin, Tara Hession, Ciara Newell 1-0 (pen ), Charlotte Cooney, Michelle Dunleavy 0-2 (2fs ), Deirdre Brennan 0-2, Ciara Burke 0-5 (3fs ). Subs used: Louise Brennan.