July 20th, 2021


Richard Bullick

Last Sunday was a landmark day in the history of Armagh LGFA’s ambitious McKeever Park project as the Orchard County’s Under 16 team hosted their Antrim counterparts in the first ever match to take place on the redeveloped ground at Killean.

Seeing young girls playing on the beautiful field in glorious sunshine would have been gratifying enough for Armagh LGFA Chairperson Sinead Reel, but the fact her dad Owen Reel refereed the match made it a particularly proud day.

Although she is always quick to share the credit with her fellow officers and numerous volunteers, Sinead has been an incredible driving force in bringing to fruition a project which has seen Armagh become the first Irish county with a dedicated ladies football base.

It has been a huge undertaking during the past three years and there are further phases of the project planned, but the senior county team have been training there regularly since April and the staging of a match is another milestone moment.

Antrim actually won the challenge game on a 5-15 to 3-13 scoreline, but that couldn’t detract from what was an afternoon of celebration for Armagh ladies football which honoured what has gone before and showcased what is to come.

Considering his fantastic contribution to local ladies football over the past three decades, including countless hours spent doing jobs around the emerging McKeever Park, it was so fitting that former Armagh LGFA Chairperson Owen Reel took charge of the first fixture.

The age gap between the 70-year-old man in black with the whistle and the teenage girls in their bright jerseys was more than half a century, but the young-at-heart Silverbridge gent was as much in his element as they were.

“A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work” was the quote which Sinead Reel posted on social media, and while the Meigh woman wasn’t sure of its origin, she could certainly vouch for its validity!

“Massive thanks to everyone who has helped Armagh in any way along this journey.  We have come a long way from sowing the first seeds to our first match taking place, so it’s an historic occasion and a proud day.

“We have a long way to go to perfection, but we’ve made a great start.  We will continue to work hard to provide a top-class facility for our own girls and those who visit our grounds.  Please help us continue our work by donating through our GoFundMe page,” she appealed.

Having posted a photo with dad Owen on the field in his refereeing jersey boasting the name of a new sponsor she has just secured, Sinead said: “I’m truly blessed to have this rock as my guide for life.  Delighted he’s the first person to officially referee at our new base.”

In another nice twist, Sinead Reel revealed that she used to coach the Armagh Under 16 captain for this special occasion, Killeavy’s Laura Kavanagh – “she started with me through the Gaelic for Girls initiative!”
May be an image of 2 people, including Sinéad Reel, people standing and outdoors