| 11.4°C Dublin

Aileen takes the hotseat

DUBLIN are back in camogie's box seat. Aileen Lawlor became the association's 29th president last Saturday at the annual congress in Cork.

"I never ever dreamed for a second that I would become president. It's a real honour and a privilege," stated Aileen.

"It will be a busy three years. I hope I can make a difference. It's nice to have the opportunity to give something back at this level.

"Camogie has given me so much over the years."

It included an All-Ireland Club Championship title with Crumlin in 1985. No Dublin team has won it since.

"That was special alright. My three sisters were also on the team -- Yvonne in goal, Ann in defence and Barbara and myself in the forwards.

"We were the dark horses that year. Our belief grew with every victory. We beat Athenry in the final at O'Toole Park. Playing there was marvellous.

"I remember so much about the game. Things went well for me. I managed to get a couple of goals.

"We had a very good side, and in attack myself and Barbara enjoyed a telepathic understanding."

Jimmy Boggan, Billy Maloney and Phil Gough guided Crumlin to glory. "We held the 25th anniversary celebration. It was sad that Jimmy wasn't there. We even had a puck-around in Pearse Park before going down to O'Toole for the function."

These days, Aileen lives in Mullingar. But it all began on the streets of Crumlin. "I joined Cuchulain when I was 10.

"My sister, Ann, was a founder member. We later merged with Crumlin.

"I have lovely memories of that time. That's where my love of the game, and the skills, were nurtured."

Aileen gained Dublin recognition. She was with the Dubs since she was 14. "Back then, they held trials. You felt really special if you were picked.

"Putting on that jersey meant so much. And I think that a jersey, be it club or county, carries such a powerful symbol.


"In later years, I was involved in some singular sports and activities, but nothing beats team sport and the notion of playing for the team."

Aileen has also represented Westmeath where she won a remarkable 18 senior county titles in 19 years with St Munna's.

"We won 13 in a row, lost the 14th by a point and then came back to win five more in succession," she recalls.

The locals are chuffed she has got the top gig. "It's a very tight-knit community down here. They are very proud that I have been given the chance to represent them on the bigger stage."

The Munna club were among the convoy that headed to Leeside last weekend. "It was a wonderful occasion. I had family, club members and county officials travelling to be there with me. That's what made it so special."

Aileen will now be getting used to the highways and byways herself. On Sunday, she had to make the dash to RTé in Donnybrook for a radio interview.

But she'll always ensure she has a full tank of petrol and is as well prepared as possible for all assignments.

She has had some good teachers, including the woman she replaces, Joan O'Flynn.

"Joan was absolutely fantastic. She was a wonderful help and support to me. She has been an inspiration."

The Crumlin faithful have also hailed Aileen's appointment. Gentleman Jimmy would be proud.