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A Brief History of Camogie in Leixlip

Camogie Team

Camogie has a long tradition in Leixlip, and it was first played in the community in the 1930’s when a team was set up and registered in the Kildare competitions by Dick Clarke who was the trainer at the time. Early names that featured were Kathleen Dunne, Mary Farrell, Maureen Eiffe, Josie Dempsey, Josie and Essie Keogh, and Bridie Geoghegan to name but a few. Leixlip participated well in adult competitions in the ’30’s,’40’s, ’50’s and ’60’s, and were unlucky on a few occasions not to obtain county silverware in these early decades.

After 1967, Leixlip did not field a team until 1975, when Leixlip’s population began to expand greatly. Mary Kennedy, and Loretta Shinnors (Wilson), who hailed from Tipperary and Antrim respectively, reformed the club that year and they served as Chairperson and Secretary. Leixlip were registered with the Dublin Camogie Board and fielded an adult side and two juvenile sides (U11 and U13). Success came in 1981 when Leixlip’s then two adult teams won the club’s first titles – Senior B League Champions; Junior C League and Championship Winners. Leixlip then returned to the Kildare Camogie competitions in 1984, registering one adult side, and an U15 team. 

The first ever underage title won by Leixlip was an U15 Division 1 League title in 1986 – the team was trained by Frances O’Donnell. Leixlip won their first ever adult titles in Kildare in 1990, when they completed a Junior League and Championship double, with Christy Ryan as manager. That same year – 1990 – Kildare were the Junior All-Ireland Camogie Champions, and Niamh Leahy (at 17 years of age), became the first ever Leixlip Camogie player to win an All Ireland medal with the Lilywhites. Niamh was the sub-goalkeeper. Leixlip were promoted to Senior for 1991, and competed in the League and Championship. They then were entered into the Intermediate Championship in 1992, and won their first Intermediate title. Leixlip once again competed at Senior Level for 1993 and 1994 but due to retirements, they struggled and regraded to Junior in 1995. They did not field in 1996 and 1997 due to a lack of numbers, but trojan efforts were made by players Trish Burke and Denise O’Connell and they reformed the team in 1998. A second Junior Championship was added in 1998, with a victory over St Laurence’s in the final. Unfortunately, thereafter, adult Camogie went into decline in the club for a few years. 

Demo Picture

Phil Farrell re-organised the underage structures in 1997/8 and juvenile numbers swelled over the next decade. The underage teams that were formed at this time, competed regularly in Division 1 and 2 finals. The U14 team competed in Division 2 of the National Féile in 2003 and 2004. Whilst they did not win underate titles, a majority of these young players stepped up to the adult team in 2005, which had reformed two years previously, and won the Junior B League and Championship, managed by Damian Burke and Bernie Shinnors. The bulk of this team then went on (with the arrival and aid of 5 players from Confey in 2007), to win an unprecedented Triple Crown of titles: the Junior A League and Championship, and the U21 B Championship – a great success for the players and management of John Doran and Phil Farrell.

This team then suffered much heartbreak and success at Intermediate level. Under the guidance of Gareth Savage, they won the Intermediate League in 2010 and 2011. Robert Murphy joined Gareth in 2013 to make up the management team and in 2015 they guided the girls to a fantastic Intermediate League victory over Naas. Another League title was added in 2016 but amid the league success during this period, Leixlip contested and lost 6 Championship finals in a row (2010 to 2015). They eventually became Champions in 2016 and 2017 beating Eire Og and Kill respectively with a mixture of older players and the new young talented crop blending very well together in these great championship victories. Pat Doyle, Bernie Shinnors and Gareth Savage were at the helm during these two championship successes. Leixlip were promoted to Senior level for the league and championship and continue to compete in these two competitions. 

Underage wise over the last decade, Leixlip have gone from strength to strength. The underage sector was re-vitalised in 2010 when Academy coach Adrian Cronin spotted a gap in coaching for girls. There was no camogie for the academy girls to progress to and his own daughter ended up having to play hurling with the boys team. It was then that Adrian started the camogie training on a Tuesday evening at 6pm, open to all ages.  Eight girls turned up on the first night, and it grew from there. A committee was set up and more coaches joined. Numbers  have grown steadily, year on year. At present, Leixlip have 189 registered players.  Leixlip field 2 teams across most grades from U15 down.  They compete at Division 1 level across many of the grades including U12 and U14. Leixlip qualified for the National Feile in 2018 – a true mark of the great work happening in the club. Several titles have been attained by many of the teams, including an U15 Division 2 league title in 2016. Minor County finals have also been contested at Division 2 level – further demonstrating the healthy space that Camogie is in within the club.

Away from the Maroon and White of the club, many Leixlip players have also enjoyed Leinster, National League, and All Ireland success with their County. Adding to the great success of the aforementioned Niamh Leahy in 1990, Niamh continued to represent her county for the rest of the 1990s. Niamh won a Leinster Junior Medal in 1996 and even scored a point from a goal-mouth clearance in the final! She was the captain of the Kildare Junior team in 1998/9 – the first ever Leixlip player to receive this honour. The next success for Leixlip players on the Kildare Junior team came in 2009, when a trio from Leixlip won National League Titles with Kildare when they defeated Westmeath – Clodagh Farrell, Eimear Fallon, Orla Ryan. Clodagh later added a Junior ‘A’ All Ireland medal in 2010 when Kildare defeated Armagh in the All Ireland Final. 2013 was another momentous year for the Lilywhites, when they won the All Ireland Junior Premier Championship, beating Laois in the final. Clodagh was on this team. Three years later, in 2016, one of our current adult stars, Ciara Harrington, captained the Kildare U16 team to the All Ireland ‘C’ Camogie Championship. This was a massive occasion for Ciara as she was the captain of the Lilywhites and led Kildare to victory over Carlow on her home pitch of Radley Park – a very historic moment for the Club. Ciara led a commanding role from corner-back, on a famous day for the County. 

What Leixlip Camogie Currently offers the Community

Leixlip camogie offer a safe, and fun environment to learn the skills of the game. All coaches are Garda vetted and have completed a child protection course. Camogie is open to all ages from 5 up and to all levels from beginner to division 1 and down. The new ball-wall and all weather pitch means that training can continue all year round. Competing at all age levels in the Kildare Competitions in the past few years has raised the profile of the GAA club in the county. All of the Leixlip teams have been successful and the girls have made new friends in many of the other clubs. The Club GPO has introduced camogie to the schools and that has been a huge addition to the recruitment process. Parents are encouraged to get involved at whatever level they can, from committee level to coaching and mentoring.  Courses are offered to new members to help them with the process. The existing Camogie Committee is made up of parents of players who started out standing on the sidelines many years ago. The club welcomes all camogie enthusiasts and new members to join at any stage of the year. All involved with Leixlip Camogie look forward to the continued success and growth of the game in Leixlip. 

Camogie Contact Details

Chairperson: Micheal Nallen 

Secretary: Conor Dalton