‘Memories to last a lifetime’ as North American history-makers visit Croke Park during week-long visit to Ireland
CROKE Park played host to an historic visit on Wednesday as members of the James Connolly’s Ladies Football club from Charlotte, North Carolina, descended upon the iconic venue.
Charlotte Ladies made history in 2017 when they won the North American senior championship for the very first time.
It was the first time that a club outside of the traditional ‘Big 4’ – San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia – had won the title.
This victory was achieved without the addition of any sanctioned players from Ireland and there were only two Irish girls on the team, namely Catriona O’Shaughnessy, who hails originally from the Donaghmore/Ashbourne club in county Meath, and Aoife Kavanagh, from An Tóchar, Roundwood (Wicklow).
All other players are American-born, and living and working in Charlotte.
This progressive club has worked hard at developing the GAA ethos of community and pride of place and feel that it is the passion borne from this that drove the team to glory in 2017.
The ‘underdog’ nature of the Charlotte Ladies story has captured the attention of the GAA world in the United States, and a film documentary is being made about their journey.
Charlotte Ladies are currently in Ireland on a week-long trip, touching down on Tuesday morning before visiting O’Shaughnessy’s home club, Donaghmore/Ashbourne, for a challenge game on Tuesday night, played out in front of a big crowd.
Charlotte ladies won that game and will meet a Galway development selection on Thursday evening at Tuam Stadium (7.15pm).
On Sunday, they’ll visit Kavanagh’s home club An Tóchar for an 11-a-side tournament also featuring the host club An Tóchar, Shelmaliers from Wexford, and Clara from Offaly.
Those involved in starting and developing the club wanted the American girls to see the sport of Ladies Football being played in its ‘natural habitat’ – and to offer them the opportunity to play on Irish soil.
This week-long trip is the culmination of months of planning and the visit to Croke Park formed an essential part of the trip, and one of the real high points of filming for the accompanying crew.
Ladies Gaelic Football Association President Marie Hickey commented: “We are delighted to welcome Charlotte Ladies to Ireland for an historic trip.
“They’ve enjoyed a wonderful tour of Croke Park today, following a hard-earned victory in last night’s challenge game against Donaghmore/Ashbourne, showcasing their talents in front of a big crowd.
“From afar, we have been following the team’s progress with keen interest and last year’s victory in the North American championship was a truly magnificent achievement.
“On behalf of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, I wish members of the travelling party well for the remainder of their stay.
“I’m sure they will return to the US with memories to last a lifetime.”