February 24th, 2023


Richard Bullick

Orchard county champions Clann Eireann were crowned Club of the Year at the Armagh LGFA awards night last Saturday, which wasn’t surprising given the huge haul of seven trophies which were brought back to Lake Street in Lurgan last season.

James Daly’s ladies did the domestic double at adult level, sweeping to the McGuinness Plumbing League title with a 100 percent record and then beating Carrickcruppen in a Buttercrane Senior Championship final replay to reclaim the coveted Marie Hoye Cup.

Some of the younger members of that squad tasted further success later in the autumn when Clann Eireann Under 18s won the top tier of the Slieve Gullion Credit Union Minor Championship, defeating Derrynoose in the decider.

Clann Eireann teams also won the Bureau de Change Under 16 Division One League and Championship double, the Under 15 Feile Cup and the Under 14 Division One Championship, representing incredible dominance across a range of age groups.

The other clubs shortlisted for the award were Derrynoose, who won the Junior Championship and were Minor runners-up, Dromintee – adult Division Two and Senior Shield winners – and St Peter’s of Lurgan.

It is an indication of how vibrant the sport of ladies gaelic football is in the Orchard county, and the drive of Armagh LGFA Chairperson Sinead Reel, that this was the second occasion held this winter to celebrate the season just gone.

At the start of December, the Carrickdale Hotel – the Armagh senior team’s main sponsors for the best part of two decades now – hosted a ‘Celebration of Champions’ night to honour the four county sides who won silverware in 2022.

Last Saturday’s event, which showcased club football, was attended by 365 guests and acknowledged a total of 49 domestic trophy triumphs by teams at all age groups and grades from the Under 12 Division Five league title upwards.

No fewer than 22 clubs won some silverware last season out of a total of 31 which are active in Armagh ladies football.  There are 29 outfits fielding at adult level, while Madden and Poyntzpass have underage sides.

Behind Clann Eireann’s huge haul of seven trophies, Dromintee were involved in five silverware wins, with two of those successes coming at adult level in the guise of Dromahill, an amalgamated team also featuring Forkhill players.

There were four each for Pearse Og and Keady with three apiece for Derrynoose, Clan na Gael, Granemore and Tir na nOg.  Mullabrack, Silverbridge and Whitecross all picked up two trophies.

Ballyhegan, Crossmaglen, Mullaghbawn, Lissummon, Cullyhanna, St Paul’s, Middletown, Carrickcruppen, Killeavy, Grange and Wolfe Tones also had something tangible to celebrate albeit the level teams were playing at must be taken into account.

For example, Armagh Harps, Senior champions for the previous two seasons, and 2020 Division One title winners Shane O’Neills were left empty-handed last year but will continue to compete for the top prizes for the foreseeable future.

Winners St Peter’s and runners-up Eire Og contested the 2021 Junior Championship final, while Clonmore lost last season’s decider to Derrynoose.  The other clubs currently fielding at adult level are Sarsfields and Corrinshego.

A dozen clubs lifted silverware at adult level in 2022, with Buttercrane Championship success for Clann Eireann, Ballyhegan and Derrynoose respectively in the three tiers and Dromahill, Mullaghbawn and Pearse Og picking up the new Shield trophies on offer.

The four divisions of the McGuinness Plumbing League were won by Clann Eireann, Dromahill, Tir na nOg and St Paul’s respectively and the new format of splitting into top and bottom halves yielded silverware for Crossmaglen, Lissummon, Cullyhanna and Middletown.

Silverbridge lifted the Minor Division Two Championship while the three tiers of the Under 15 Feile were won by Clann Eireann (Cup), Granemore (Shield) and Keady (Plate).  Successful clubs in the Under 16, Under 14 and Under 12 age group competitions are listed below.

Declan Carolan, who officiates at inter-county level, won the Referee of the Year award while the Juvenile Referee of the Year title went to Keith Goodfellow of Lurgan club, St Paul’s.

Image preview

UNDER 16 – Division One: Clann Eireann (Championship), Killeavy (League); Division Two: Pearse Og (Championship), Mullabrack (League); Division Three: Carrickcruppen (Championship), Wolfe Tones (League); Division Four: Clan na Gael (Championship and League); Division Five: Grange (Championship), Tir na nOg (League).

UNDER 14 – Division One: Clann Eireann (Championship and League); Division Two: Mullabrack (Championship), Dromintee (League); Division Three: Keady (Championship), Silverbridge (League); Division Four: Tir na nOg (Championship), Clan na Gael (League); Division Five: Whitecross (Championship and League).

UNDER 12 – Division One: Dromintee (Championship and League); Division Two: Pearse Og (Championship and League); Division Three: Derrynoose (Championship and League); Division Four: Granemore (Championship and League); Division Five: Keady (Championship and League).

Image preview