Desmonds are TESCO Homegrown All-Ireland Champions

Castleisland Desmonds Ladies Football  team are the TESCO Home-grown All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football Champions having defeated a fancied Clonbur team in the final in Corofin, Co. Clare on Saturday afternoon.

From the throw-in, Desmond showed the greater appetite for non-stop action and they forced the play and went into a lead with a Leanne Mangan point within the opening half minute. They never lost the appetite for hard graft or the lead for the rest of the game.

There could well have been a ‘Grazing to Let’ advert in The Clare Champion in the week leading up to the game as the grass was at least four inches long and the surface in no mood to return a bounced ball. Both sides adapted, but Desmonds copped it first and roars  of “don’t hop”  from the sidelines paid dividends early on.

They added points by: Leanne Mangan, Áine O Connor and Lorraine Scanlon.  Clonbur had to wait a full 12 minutes before they registered their first point. However, there was neither rest nor respite for the Galwegians as a relentless Desmonds registered another four points from Leanne Mangan.

Only 20 minutes into the game Desmonds lead by 0-7 to 01.  Clonbur finished stronger, however and a sustained period of pressure yielded only two points for them as the half-time whistle sounded. All their attacks foundered on the rock of the Desmonds defence and anything that got through was well and capably handled by Melissa Holland in goals.

Both teams added points in the early stages of the second half. Rachel Cronin struck for Desmonds.  In the 9th minute Leanne Mangan collected the ball 35 metres out and her delivery and the marauding presence of Áine O’Connor distracted the Clonbur keeper, Rita Ní Chearnaigh for the first goal of the game.

Given the dominance of Desmonds up to this point, that goal should have taken the heart out of the Clonbur side. But they struck back with a point and a goal and the game was on again. We were half-way through the second half and there were only three points separating the teams.

Desmonds backs stood up to the massive pressure at this stage.  The sight of ‘keeper, Melissa Holland and defenders : Aoife Lyons, Cáit Lynch and Aisling Leonard driving out and setting loose the likes of Lorraine Scanlon, Leanne Mangan and the tigerish teenager, Andrea Murphy brought comfort and reassurance to the huge Castleisland support.

Leanne Mangan reasserted her dominance in spite of the special attention she was afforded by the Clonbur defence and she added two more points. Elaine Guiney was only minutes on the pitch when she calmed the nerves of the Desmonds supporters with a killer goal. The honour of the final score fell to one of the youngest members of the team: Labhaoise Wamsley had also just come on as a sub and in her short time of the field she handled the ball a few times before angling a great point to wrap up the total at 2-12 for Desmonds to 1-6 for the desperately disappointed Clonbur side.

The Clonbur support may have been more vocal but Desmonds had huge and colourful support in Corofin. Cait Lynch collected the Player-of-the-Match award and it was almost a reflection on her season-long contribution to the result of the day.  When Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association President, Pat Quill presented Desmond captain Lorraine Scanlon with the cup the delighted Headley’s Bridge woman just couldn’t help smiling. There was little else she could do over the roar of the assembled supporters.

“This is the third All-Ireland ladies title for the club. The last two were won in 1983 and 1984. Desmonds GAA Club also has the very unique distinction of the being the only club in the history of the GAA to win both the women’s and men’s All-Ireland Club Championship titles,” said the club’s PRO, Pat Hartnett.

A huge bonfire in Knocknagoshel welcomed the team back home. On to Castleisland then where fireworks and another bonfire greeted the team off the bus at Hartnett’s Corner. They were escorted through the town with a torchlight procession before getting on a specially convened stage at J.K.O’Connor’s – where they were Introduced to the massive crowd.

“Desmonds GAA Club is eternally grateful to:  the River Island Hotel: Billy Mangan, Coaches, Knocknagoshel  for their generous sponsorship. The business people of Castleisland were very generous to this wondeful team all along in their bid to bring All-Ireland glory to the town and district,” said Mr. Hartnett.  We’d also like to thank McAuliffe Ttransport and Truly Irish Foods for the stage tonight and to Cormac O’Mahony and Charlie Farrelly for providing the amplification on the occasion. We also express our sincere  thanks to our wonderful supporters who travelled to Corofin for the game today,” he concluded.

Castleisland Desmonds: Melissa Holland, Marian Shine, Aoife Lyons, Jane Lynch, Tina Mangan, Cáit Lynch, Eda Mangan, Aisling Leonard, Eilísh Lynch, Rachel Cronin, Lorraine Scanlon, captain; Andrea Murphy, Stephanie Murphy, Leanne Mangan and Áine O’Connor. Scorers: Leanne  Mangan 1-7 (six points from frees) ;  Elaine Guiney 1-0; Rachel Cronin, Lorraine Sanlon, Áine O’Connor and Labhaoise Walmsley 0-1 each.  Subs: Mariah Curtin for Eda Mangan; Labhaoise Walmsley for Stephanie Murphy and Elaine Guiney for Áine O’Connor. Manager: Billy Mangan; Coach: Steve Murphy; Bagman: Dan Kearney; Digital PR: Pa White, Coach driver: Declan Mangan. The game was refereed by James Flood, Wexford.