Ladies Gaelic football in Britain will take another giant step forward next weekend when the newly formed Yorkshire Ladies Board stages its first-ever fixtures.
Yorkshire becomes Britain’s sixth ladies’ county board, joining London, Scotland, Warwickshire, Hertfordshire and Glo-Herts, which combines Gloucestershire and Hertfordshire.
In 2017, St Christopher’s competed against Lancashire teams due to the lack of teams in Yorkshire, while Tir na nÓg ladies having been playing in Scotland against sides from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, with all of the logistical challenges that presents.
Yorkshire Ladies County Board Chairperson, Joe McGovern explained: “Our vision is of increased opportunity to participate, socialise and compete at the appropriate level for all.
“Our goal is to offer a competition that permits the development of these four clubs in the short term and the introduction of more clubs in the future. Offering the new clubs with smaller member numbers the opportunity to compete within their capacity and numbers.
“In doing so the aim is that the numbers continue to grow as the opportunity to compete exists, until the club is established and can play with larger numbers.
“We understand the secret in growing numbers in clubs and in sport in general; is that it is welcoming, fun and over all, offers competition to challenge the new skills learnt.
“Therefore, these key points on inclusivity along with flexibility epitomise our views as a county board.”
Ladies Provincial Council President Tommie Donohue previously told the Irish World that the new county was a ‘massive development for Ladies football in Britain’. He added: “Ladies football in Britain is in an unbelievable place at the moment.”
The four ‘Yorkshire’ clubs will compete in league, cup and championship competitions, as well as fielding a combined side to represent Yorkshire inter-county level.
The league will initially take place in a Blitz format, played out between the four clubs at a single venue.
The championship will be played later in the summer and will offer the opportunity to compete against the winners of the other six ladies’ counties across Britain, as well as a further opportunity to compete against clubs in Europe and in Ireland.
In addition, the board will provide support for coaching staff at each club to promote the game and to offer the highest standard of coaching, safety, safeguarding and inclusiveness possible to enable continued growth.
Caisléan Nua Tír na nÓg, Newcastle
The club was formed in summer 2015 by Michelle Healy in response to a high interest within the Irish community in the area. Tomas McGleenan, manager of Cú Chulainn’s, was a huge support in the initial process of establishing the club.
Fixtures began in 2016 with a number of friendlies, predominately against university opponents. Initially, the average numbers at training was eight per session, but this has steadily grown.
As of April 2017, the team took the next step to appoint their first permanent coach, Joe McGovern. Joe’s involvement has enhanced the club’s performance with his vast sport’s experience in Northern Ireland.
Later in the year, the club competed in the Scottish League against Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Led by club captain Michelle Healy, the ladies battled it out to win both the Scottish League LGFA Shield and Scottish LGFA Junior Championship. Encapsulating a hugely successful year for the club.
St Christopher’s, Leeds
Founded in 2011 by Ruth and Henry Foster, St Christopher’s is the first and only ladies GAA team in Leeds. Due to the young history of the club all club officials are team members.
The club’s highest accolade to date is reaching the Junior Championship final in 2016.
St Christopher’s has always played in the Lancashire division, as until this year there has been no Yorkshire County Board.
York Eireannach, York
Set up in 2017, the club is based a short distance from York city centre at York St John University playing fields and comprises two teams, a junior ladies and junior men’s team.
In 2017 the men’s team competed in the Yorkshire Junior League and Championship. The woman’s played several 7-a-side friendlies.
The club hosted a hugely successful 7s tournament at the end of August and had several clubs from Yorkshire and Lancashire attend. Both teams recorded their first wins at the tournament.
This year, the men will participate in the Pennine League and the Yorkshire League, and championship again.
The woman’s will be involved in the first LGFA Yorkshire League under the new county board.
Again, York will host another 7s tournament at the end of August, which it hopes will be bigger than last year’s. The club also hopes to set up a youth team and continue to develop the ladies and men’s teams.
St Vincent’s, Sheffield
Founded in 2017, and named after the city’s historic Irish district, St. Vincent’s GAA provides opportunities for people in Sheffield and the surrounding region to play Gaelic sports in the heart of South Yorkshire.
The club is open to all; men and women, Irish and otherwise, those who have played before and those keen to try a new sport.