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Aileen inspiring Adamstown

Ladies football: Bodibro Senior Championship Final preview


Mayo ace Aileen Gilroy, the driving force behind Adamstown’s march to a first final in 29 years

Mayo ace Aileen Gilroy, the driving force behind Adamstown’s march to a first final in 29 years

Mayo ace Aileen Gilroy, the driving force behind Adamstown’s march to a first final in 29 years

When Adamstown take to the field on Saturday there's a lineage of club greats that have been a major part of this journey, through the decades, from the years of hard work and building a squad, trying their darnedest to compete with established sides.

In the 27 years that proceeded the last two, there was almost certainly nobody in the club that would have thought that a girl from Mayo would be the catalyst for a trip to the promised land of a county final.

'We have Aileen here to drive us over the line, we damn sure wouldn't have made it this far without her,' proclaimed joint captain Róisín Dillon.

Of course, it's tough to put her impact in the form of points value but her impact, on and off the field, is significant.

Adamstown were a club on the rise before she arrived last summer, but Gilroy has added another dimension to their attacking play. They had a lot of experience in those forward spots, as Chantelle Martin, Ellen O'Brien and Sandra Thorpe have all been around the block, but to add a natural scorer to the mix is quite the stroke of luck.

'At home we would be Intermediate club (St. Brigid's) and then coming down here it was Senior so it definitely was a good step up. It's been really, really good, the girls have been welcoming from the start so that made my life a lot easier,' Gilroy said.

'I suppose last year coming back from ACL I didn't get around the league that much so that was tough coming in at the start because the girls had a lot of training done. It was still nice, they made me feel really welcome.

'We got to the league final and were probably unlucky to lose as well, but then getting to the semi-final last year and losing to St. Anne's, it was disappointing but it's probably helped us this year drive ourselves on and push ourselves on a little bit further,' she pointed out.

For Dillon, despite being just 20, she has been around the squad for four seasons.

She's had bigger chunks of disappointment but it only makes the good days sweeter.

'After last year's sting of the semi-final against St. Anne's, I think everyone was prepared to come back this year,' she said.

'We were delighted to get back. I knew this year was going to be our year [to reach the final] so I'm delighted we got to finish it [with the Covid situation].

'I was really proud and it was a big honour to be joint captain with Patrice [O'Gorman].

'Patrice is excellent, a great talker, and to be asked, it was obviously a big "yes", I was thrilled.'

Another big talker is Gilroy. It was noticeable how her team-mates look to the ladies' football All Star and AFL player for words of wisdom.

She takes those moments seriously, knowing everything she says has the potential to make that bit of difference in the end.

'I suppose coming down from Mayo I've been playing football the last 20 years.

'Back at home playing county with Mayo, you go to training sessions and I've definitely learnt from the top down.

'It's like the little tricks in the trade they have taught me. If I do bring that down here to the girls and they take a little one per cent of what I say, it could help us win at the end of the day.

'Well, that's my job done, I just want to help any way I can, if that's just me being vocal then I'll be vocal.'

She needed all that experience and guile against semi-final opponents Clonee as they pulled away in the end to win, but they knew they were in a battle though.

Gilroy remembered that 'they had all their match-ups done perfectly, they had that hunger in them, they were probably unlucky on the day to get that sin-bin that the 'keeper got, because I think that was definitely our luck on the day'.

Now Shelmalier - who didn't put a player forward for interview after two requests for this preview - await in the final and Gilroy is aware of the challenge ahead.

'They have excellent runners, good scorers, great defenders all over the park,' Aileen said.

'They are a solid team all round, they had a tough semi-final like we did so I think that will set it up really nicely for the next day.'

That next day is just upon them, the chance to fulfil a bunch of dreams all in one wild afternoon, and for Dillon it would be one to remember.

'I don't think you could put into words what it would mean, I suppose 29 years, it would be a huge achievement for our club and our team and past players watching from home.

'We are doing it for them as well, it would just be huge.'

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