Coláiste Bhaile Chláir making rapid strides on the ladies football fields

Leading the ladies football revolution in Coláiste Bhaile Chláir are Galway inter-county footballers and teachers Lisa Gannon, Fabienne Cooney and Sarah Conneally.
Leading the ladies football revolution in Coláiste Bhaile Chláir are Galway inter-county footballers and teachers Lisa Gannon, Fabienne Cooney and Sarah Conneally.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

IT didn’t take Coláiste Bhaile Chláir long to get to the pitch of things since first opening its doors in September 2013. Inside and outside the classroom, the new secondary school has been making its mark.

This Saturday, the Claregalway college hopes to add another string to its bow when it contests the All-Ireland senior ‘C’ ladies football final which is remarkable given this is the first year the school has entered a team in this competition. Then again, this is also the first year they have a Leaving Cert. class.

To the fore in leading the ladies football revolution in Coláiste Bhaile Chláir are Galway seniors Sarah Conneally, Fabienne Cooney and Lisa Gannon and they are ably assisted by others including Sarah Nic Donnchadha, another ladies football enthusiast.

Indeed, right across the staff-room in Claregalway College, they have teachers with a huge passion for sport. Among them are noted hurlers Cyril Donnellan and St Thomas’s James Regan and Galway footballers Fiontáin Ó Curraoin and captain Damien Comer, who is currently on placement there.

Furthermore, former Mayo stalwart Maurice Sheridan coaches the first-year boys while 2013 All-Ireland winning Galway camogie captain Lorraine Ryan is also an educator at Coláiste Bhaile Chláir. The staff-room, consisting of approximately 70, is virtually a ‘whose who’ of Galway sport.

“I suppose, we do share stories and training tips and what not,” acknowledges Sarah Conneally, who leads the school’s senior ladies football management, with her Galway team-mates Fabienne Cooney taking the lead on the junior set-up and Lisa Gannon presiding over the juveniles.

“You could be talking about anything in the staff room though,” she laughs. “I suppose, as teachers, away from the classroom, it is nice to be involved (in sport in the school). To be able to get to know the students outside of the classroom and, hopefully, to teach them other things outside of the academic subjects.”

In Coláiste Bhaile Chláir, under Principal Alan Mongey, sport plays a key role in the development of the students – outside of GAA, they have also had great success in other sports such as soccer and basketball – and Conneally remarks the value of physical activity in a student’s life should not be underestimated.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.