A LADIES Gaelic football team from the Capital is to make history by becoming the first Scottish club to contest a national final in Ireland.
Dunedin Connolly’s, which is made up of ex-pat Irishwomen, one Scot and a Canadian, will take on Kerry side Na Gaeil in the All-Ireland ladies junior club football final in County Laois this Saturday.
The team’s remarkable journey began when the ladies entered a seven-a-side tournament in Co Kerry last year as “a laugh”.
They have since swept through the British championship and now stand on the brink of spiriting the biggest prize in Irish ladies junior football over to Scotland for the first time.
The side, which began as a social club in 1988, has grown to boast more than 100 members, both male and female, in recent years.
Club treasurer Declan Cullinane said: “It’s an incredible achievement really and a phenomenal year for the club. It would be something else if the girls can pull it off.
“No-one at the club ever believed that this would be possible but here we are. The girls went across to Kerry and entered a sevens tournament and went on to win it.
“It’s all stemmed from that. When they came back they decided to enter the British championship.”
The team, who play their home games at Broughton Rugby Club, won the British championship by seeing off Liverpool side John Mitchels.
They then upset the odds against Ulster champions Shane O’Neills in the quarter-final before defeating St Helens, of Co Longford, in the semi-final on November 17.
Of course, the downside to their trailblazing romp around Britain and across the Irish Sea has resulted in considerable travel expenses for the 25-member playing squad – but they’ve been backed by Malones Irish bar in Forrest Road.
Declan added: “Malones have been fantastic in helping us out financially as it’s cost us a fortune to send the girls around the place.
“Unlike a club at home in Ireland, we don’t have the luxury of a clubhouse or own our own pitch but we have got by for the past 25 years working together using members’ homes or Malones bar for meetings.”
Asked where the cup might reside if they do make history and clinch the trophy, he added: “The cups have always stayed with the captain, although on a night in Malones it spends a lot of time behind the bar getting filled up.”
Ladies Gaelic Football Association president Pat Quill said: “Club football is the lifeblood of the game as ordinary women throughout the country turn out for their local clubs week in, week out giving their all for their parishes.
“I would like to pay tribute to Dunedin Connolly’s from Scotland, who have reached the All-Ireland final, this is a magnificent achievement that shows the potential for growth that ladies football has outside of our own borders.”