Joan O’Flynn Camogie President Visits Armagh
President of Camogie in Ireland Joan O’Flynn visited six primary schools, two post primary schools and met with the Armagh County Camogie Board on her whistle stop tour to Armagh. St. Patrick’s P.S. Armagh was Joan’s first port of call. Principal Mr Kevin Devlin, pupils and staff were delighted to meet the President of Camogie in Ireland. Joan received the same rapturous reception that President of Ireland Mary McAleese in March, just minus the security. In attendance were staff members Una Kearney All Ireland Senior Camogie Final 2009 referee and Declan Coulter Armagh County hurler. Joan talked about her new role as President and her love for the great game of camogie. There was time for questions and modest Joan provided the answers.
St. John’s P.S Middletown eagerly awaited the arrival of the Camogie President. Principal Mr Gerry Mone, pupils and staff listened attentively to Joan’s words of appreciation and support for the promotion of camogie/hurling in the school. She congratulated the local hurlers on winning the Armagh Senior and Minor Championships and the camogs on reaching the Armagh Senior Camogie Championship Final. Joan paid tribute to Middletown‘s camogie trio Joanne and Paula Mallon and Anne McGuigan on playing for Armagh County Senior Camogie Team. The President with teacher Mr Ronan Gallagher Fermanagh’s County Goalkeeper took a few camogie drills with the girls.
The sun radiated through the beautiful autumn countryside as the President made her way accompanied by Armagh County Camogie Chairperson Yvonne Morgan through Tynan and Caledon to Our Lady’s P.S. Tullysarron. The pupils formed a beautiful arch with their camogie sticks to welcome the President of Camogie of Ireland. Principal Mr Pat Mallon in his welcome address spoke of how honoured the school was to have the President of Camogie to take time to come and visit. Joan informed the audience that she was aware of Tullysarron’s contributions to playing camogie through their great ambassador Colette McSorley. She also mentioned meeting Eimear Hayes another past pupil of the school and who represented Armagh in the All Ireland Feile skills competition in Tullamore Co. Offaly in June. A question from one of the pupils to Joan was “”Did she think ladies football have any effect on camogie””? The President stated “”that she didn’t feel ladies football had any effect on camogie and she felt that girls could play both sports””.
Mrs Jacqueline Loughran Principal of St. Jarlath’s P.S Blackwatertown welcomed Joan O’Flynn. Blackwatertown is steeped in camogie history. The local club An Port Mor are currently celebrating their 75th anniversary. The main topics of the pupil’s questions were about wearing helmets. Joan encouraged everyone to wear their helmet. A Cork jersey in the audience won the Camogie President’s heart as she is from Cork. Joan spent a few years in London before moving back to live in Kildare.
It was on to St. Peter’s P.S. Collegeland. Principal Mr Joe Donleavy welcomed the Camogie President. Collegeland was once a strong area rich in camogie. Unfortunely there is no camogie been played in this area at present. Mr Ciarin Clifford now a member of the teaching staff led his teaching college St. Mary’s in an historic All Ireland hurling success story last year. Mr Clifford and the staff and pupils of Collegeland P.S. aim to plant the seeds for camogie development in the local community again. President O’Flynn was delighted with the proposed camogie developments in the future.
It was through the beautiful orchards laden with apples to Clintyclay P.S. Mrs O’Neill Vice Principal welcomed the President. Clintyclay Primary School is situated very close to the Armagh/Tyrone border and is very proud of the success of past pupils in GAA circles such as Ryan Melon Tyrone Senior Player and Brendan Donaghy Armagh Senior Player and many others. Pupils from the school currently play camogie with An Port Mor. Joan and her audience shared a lot of information about camogie. Mrs O’Neill thanked Joan for taking time to visit Clintyclay P.S. and her words encouraged the girls and supported the promotion of camogie.
The pupils and camogie mentors of St. Catherine’s College Armagh listened attentively to the Camogie President words on the importance of promoting women in sport. A discussion around camogie players wearing skorts or shorts was very interesting. In conclusion the President gave her own opinion that she preferred shorts but emphasised that the opinion across Ireland was equally divided between the wearing of shorts or skorts. The President paid tribute to the continuous work in promoting camogie in St. Catherine’s.
The final port of call late in the afternoon was to St. Patrick’s High School Keady. The pupils were training after school and took time out to sit and listen to the President. There was a beautiful array of colourful jerseys. Joan thanked the girls for representing their school on the camogie field and encouraged them to wear the orange jersey of their county in the future. She paid tribute to the fabulous networking of the school and all the feeder camogie clubs. The President also acknowledged the success of the local club St. Patrick’s Keady on reaching the Ulster Camogie Club Final.
The Camogie President’s whistle stop tour finished with attending the monthly Armagh Camogie County Board meting. The President introduced herself and outlined her goals that she hoped to achieve in her three year term of office. She congratulated the Armagh Senior Camogie Team on reaching the final of the Nancy Murray Cup. Joan reflected on her school visits and said hew impressed she was at the promotion of camogie in Armagh. She encouraged delegates to continue to promote the game. In closing Joan offered her ongoing support and thanked Armagh County Camogie Board for their great work.
Joan O’Flynn’s visit to Armagh was inspirational. She was knowledgeable, understanding and appreciative of the great work been done in schools, colleges clubs and county. It was sheer delight to have the President of Camogie meet and greet the pupils, hard working teachers, players, executive, club representatives and supporters.
Thanks to all the schools who made the President’s visit so special. As the President said “”It is not I that is special but you the players and mentors are very special for continuing to promote the game of camogie””. Indeed memories of Joan’s visit will live on. Armagh Camogie will continue to promote the game of camogie and endeavour that every camog will reach their potential in the game.