SHE may not have been part of the winning squad but pensioner Eileen Leonard set the tone for Murroe-Boher’s All-Ireland celebrations on a pitch in Ballinasloe by playing a rousing rendition of We’re on the One Road on her electric fiddle.
Immediately after the final whistle, the 77-year-old joined the jubilant ladies football team - who were crowned All-Ireland junior club champions on Saturday - for an impromptu celebratory seisiún.
“I played Sean Sabhat from Garryowen, and We’re On the One Road. I’ve been playing the fiddle since I was seven or eight years old,” said Eileen who brings the fiddle everywhere with her in the back of the car.
As it turns out, she doesn’t teach the fiddle - she still gives driving lessons.
Eileen’s granddaughter Lisa Leonard was one of the stars of the game and the 16-year-old showed her musical flair after the full-time whistle when she too played a tune on the snazzy black instrument.
“I got a sudden thought into my head that I wanted one,” recalled Eileen of purchasing the electric fiddle.
“I bought an electric one because I had a few pounds. We have a small amplifier and it’s great.”
Eileen also played a few tunes following the quarter-final win in Maastricht in Holland and also for the Munster final win in Kilmallock
“The girls love it. We are all part of Regan’s Army - named after the manager Noel Regan.”
Speaking to the Leader this Tuesday, Noel said the team and management are “coming down to earth a bit now” after their comprehensive 3-11 to 1-1 win over Roscommon champions St Ciaran’s in Ballinasloe.
It’s a real family affair for the Regans - Noel’s wife Helen is a selector while two of his daughters - Aisling, 17, and Grainne, 16, are on the team.
Selector Donal Ryan also has a daughter on the team - Shauna, 16, who plays mid-field.
Interestingly, there are three sets of sisters on the team - twins Aoife and Saoirse Barry, Roisin and Aoife O’Malley, and the Regans. The average age of the squad is 19.
“We played our first match last February and the All-Ireland final was our 18th match at adult level and we won all 18 of them.
“We train an average of twice a week,” Noel explained. “Some of the under 16s would have played nearly 30 matches this year - it’s substantial. An interesting fact is that they haven’t been beaten in any competition this year at U16, minor or adult level - they have won every match. The chances are we’ll probably go years without a year like this so you have to make the most of them.”
The girls returned home to a hero’s welcome on Saturday night - one which will live long in the memory says Noel.
“We have got fantastic support from the community. The homecoming on Saturday evening was superb. We received a garda escort down the street and there was a beautiful fireworks display. What the team has achieved this year has been phenomenal - I don’t know will it ever be done again by anyone. There is a great sense that this team is pretty unique.”
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