*Willie O’Reilly. 

CARRON PHOTOGRAPHER, Willie O’Reilly was among those recognised for their service to ladies football in Clare.

At Thursday’s AGM of the Clare LGFA, the County Board issued a total of five awards to acknowledge the contribution of different volunteers and officers across the county.

Chairman of Clare LGFA, Seán Lenihan explained, “there is a huge amount of work done by clubs, often without thanks or praise, you just roll up the sleeves and do it, we all do it for a bit and then someone else takes up the mantle”.

David Nagle who Chairs Clare LGFA’s development committee proposed the idea of an awards ceremony among county officers earlier in the year. He is the owner of West Clare Trophies and also sponsored the accolades handed out to the award recipients.

He outlined, “from clubs and the county board it is very difficult to get volunteers to come into the clubs, volunteers are the lifeblood of the clubs and it is important we recognise and encourage more people to volunteer”.

Willie O’Reilly (photographer/journalist of the year), Alisha Rowland (young volunteer of the year), Michelle Conway (committee officer of the year), Graham Kelly (coach of the year) and Sheila Murphy (county/provincial officer of the year) were singled out for their contributions.

As the person behind Burren Eye Photography, Willie’s has consistently promoted ladies football through his work. His photographs frequently appear in The Clare Echo helping to bring our sporting coverage to another level. A member of the Burren Gaels club, he was the only winner unable to attend the AGM. “He is a man that is at every match with the camera, Willie is just a fabulous person, match after match he is there, he is so obliging, he visited the clubs and took photos of the children and gives these images free to everyone to promote football, he elevates ladies football through his commitment,” Nagle commented.

Rowland’s “willingness to volunteer” be it helping out with the U12 ladies football team or refereeing saw her stand out. Her contributions were described as “invaluable” to St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield. “She always demonstrates unwavering commitment regardless of the weather in Clare or her personal commitments”.

Michelle Conway was described as “an outstanding treasurer”. David stated, “she takes on the role of fundraising on her own, she goes looking for prizes in local shops and businesses and then promotes them on Facebook”. He added of the West Clare Gaels clubwoman, “some would say she is the face of the club, she even rounds up some players to talk to TG4 when they come around”.

Former Clare footballer, Graham Kelly was praised for the “huge coaching experience” he has brought to ladies football in the county. He coaches the minor and intermediate ladies football sides in St Joseph’s Miltown along with the county minors. “He is enthusiastic and positive in his approach, instead of criticising he is positive, he is very keen on player wellbeing and takes into consideration other demands, while his sessions are intense, no two sessions are the same, it is constantly varied and it makes the sessions and training most enjoyable”.

Sheila Murphy of St Joseph’s Miltown was awarded the county/provincial officer of the year gong. A member of the U14 county management, she also “single-handedly” ran the Péil na gCailíní event where 560 girls participated. She is also Clare LGFA’s Culture and Language Officer.

Rengen Power’s continued sponsorship of Clare LGFA was also acknowledged on the night. Lenihan presented a framed signed Clare jersey to Cian Burke, a mechanical engineer with Rengen but also a prominent footballer who captained St Breckan’s senior side this year. Burke said the jersey would be hung up in the office to be proudly displayed the following morning.

Lenihan confirmed they are in the latter stages of agreeing a new three-year deal with the Ennis based company. “We’ve had a number of great sponsors but for the last htree years we’ve had a superb sponsor, they are a great company, a huge synergy between Rengen power and ourselves, they have ambition and they have driven, we are very grateful to Eugene Keane, Seamus Lynch and the gang”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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