50 Years of Camogie at Na Fianna GAA Club was celebrated recently at their clubhouse on Mobhí Road.
Plenty of memories were recalled on the night, with the club starting in 1969 after a phonecall from Seán Clerkin to Gretta Grey on the first week of October that year inviting her to a meeting to discuss setting up a camogie section in the club.
As a result, despite never having played camogie, Gretta became the first chairperson of the camogie section. Little did they know that just 6 months later Na Fianna would lift their first trophy, that in a few short years there would be a thriving juvenile section, and in 2019 there are 24 juvenile and 4 adult teams in the club. 50 years later, over a hundred players, coaches, family and friends, past and present, returned to celebrate the success of half a century of camogie in Na Fianna.
Speeches from Chairman Cormac ó Donnchú and club President (and camogie manager) Paddy King acknowledged the great contribution of camogie to the club. Vice chairman of camogie in 1969, Eleanor O’Neill, was present also.
Gretta Gray in her speech, remembered Seán Clerkin as a man ahead of his time. While women had always played a vital role in the club, it was his vision that women should play a full and equal part as full members which sowed the seeds for the future. Gretta recalled how within a few short months, the first Na Fianna team had captured their first trophy- the first of many. Seven of that first team were in attendance: Captain Cecilia Kelly, Elsie Shannon, Sarah Doran who travelled from Cavan, Anne and Betty Bryan, Nora Hayes. Club stalwart Ann McNamara is currently in Naoirobi but managed to talk to her former team-mates through Skype.
It was a marvellous evening of reminiscing. Players from different eras shared their memories of the club and what camogie meant to them. Captain of the 1970 winning team Cecilia Kelly said how she had enjoyed every minute of her time playing for the club. Elsie Shannon was a cousin of Seán Clerkin’s and was on the first team at the ripe old age of 13. Anna Purton and Annmarie Gray on the first juvenile team who took the field in 1974, drawing 0-0 with St Mary’s on a freezing day which ended with Annmarie wearing Ann O’Neill’s fur coat and the rest of the team being revived with soup in Joe Murphy’s van.
Mary Lee talked about the meetings held in Willow Park and the energy that came from having juvenile teams. Irene Corrigan spoke about all the other activities in the club – Scór and the craic after training on a Wednesday night.
Tony Foran talked through the memories of the 1991 team who won the Senior A League and the great contribution of Joe Murphy to that team. Colette Murphy recounted Sadhbh’s encounter with Steve Staunton in Tamangos on the night of the final and her showing off her injury. Telling Steve Staunton that camogie was a real sport not like soccer, but neglecting to tell him the injury came from a champagne cork. From Orla Feeney, memories of playing in the Fingallians tournament and of her time at the county Board.
Na Fianna has always made a huge contribution in the running of Camogie in Dublin and nationally, between Ann Mc Namara as Chairman of the Minor Board with Orla Feeney as secretary, Gretta Gray as Chairperson and the late Bridin Ui Mhaolagain as President of the Association. We remembered also the players and mentors who have passed away too young: Mary Behan, Catherine Keane, Niamh Leahy, Eileen and Ann Ó Neill, Ger Deignan, Eilish Clarke, Rosie Flynn, Kaye Neville, Róisín Ó Hagan, Joe Murphy, Bill Egan and Paddy Fox.
All those who spoke talked about the huge impact being part of a team had made on them – the friendships forged.
For us all, being part of camogie in Na Fianna was more than just about playing the game. It was about the club being our whole lives for a period, the connections and memories and the pure and utter enjoyment of being a part of Na Fianna.