If you were anywhere in the vicinity of the Presentation Pitch in Caheroyan on a Saturday evening a few weeks ago you could be in no doubt as to the driving forces that propel the Athenry Camogie Club. You would have heard P.J. Molloy as he ‘gently cajoled’ his charges in preparation for the following morning when they would take on Kinvara in the Senior B League Final replay at Ballindereen and hopefully take one step further up the ladder towards becoming a force to be reckoned with at senior level of Club Camogie in County Galway.
Obviously, the seeds were sown because next morning produced a mighty performance from the Athenry girls when they defeated Kinvara by 03- 11 to 0l-05. They now look forward to the Championship where they will, hopefully, maintain this momentum.
The Club was formed by Gilbert McCarthy in 1973 — probably because he realized there was the potential and the need to build on the strength of the Presentation College teams who made history in Croke Park on April 6th, 1974 by winning both Junior and Senior All-Ireland Colleges titles.
The Club enjoyed some wonderful early years and had remarkable success for a team so relatively new to the Club circuit. Having won the junior title in 1973, they won their first Senior County Title in 1975 and went on to win eight Senior County Galway and Connacht titles. They appeared in six All-Ireland Club finals and won the final in 1977.
There was a quiet period in Athenry Camogie during the late 80s and early 9os but tribute must be paid to Frank O’Shea who kept the Club alive and ticking during these lean years.
In 1992 Athenry fielded their first underage teams with Noreen Treacy in charge of the U-10s.The following year they won the County Final. It is a measure of the hard work in the intervening years that the Club now has teams playing at all levels. This involves a lot of time and commitment and while many people have worked with the underage teams over the years, I think Tom Page deserves special mention. Nobody has put as much time and work into underage camogie in Athenry as Tom has and the parish is indebted to him for his dedication and effort.
Winning the All-Ireland Féile in 1997 was the Clubs next major achievement – 20 years after winning the Senior Club Championship in 1977.This team which was trained by Mixie Donoghue were winners all the way and fully deserved the blazing bonfires that greeted them on their return to Athenry with the Féile Cup.
These Féile Girls provided the youthful energy amid the solid structure of the older players that contributed in no small way to the success of the team in the 2000 Intermediate Final. Athenry, after a 10 year absence, once again joined the ranks of Senior Club status.
Katherine Glynn from Renmore Club joined Athenry to play senior camogie this year and is a very welcome addition to the Club. She has proved a wonderful asset to us and the Club would be very receptive to and welcome any players wishing to join us.
We are very proud of one of our younger players, Stephanie Gannon, who won the Gold Medal for the Community Games Puc Fada two years in succession, 1999 and 2000. In 2000 she outclassed both boys and girls — a wonderful achievement Stephanie!
County Junior team
We are represented on the County Junior team this year by Darelle Coen and Katherine Glynn; on the Minor panel by Krystle Ruddy and on the U-14 panel by Stephanie Gannon, Mary Ward and Jessica Gill. Congratulations to all and good luck in the Championship.
Well done also this year to our players on the Scoil Chroí Naofa Mini Sevens team who took both the County and Connacht titles. Four players from this team, not yet chosen, will play in Croke Park on Senior and Junior All-Ireland Camogie Final day.
Congratulations to those chosen and to their trainer Des Coen. To cater for all this activity, funds are always needed and we are deeply grateful to the Hurling club for allowing us to be part of their weekly Lotto and to all the people who generously sponsor us year after year.
So, almost 30 years after its foundation, Athenry Camogie Club is alive and thriving and its future seems assured if the numbers attending underage training sessions almost every evening of the week in Caheroyan is anything to go by.
Hopefully, under the continued guidance and passion of P.J. Molloy, we will once again travel the road to success of the great early years.
Midge Glynn teaches in St. Ita’s National School Loughrea and was a star camogie player in her day!
Written by Midge Glynn
Published here 21 Jul 2023 and originally published Summer 2002