2002 – 2005
Harps ladies first took to the pitch for a 7 aside tournament in 2002. Marie and Lena Fogerty, two sisters from Wexford and Patricia O’Neill decided they could get enough girls together to compete and asked the Harps powers that be, Brendan McLoughlin, Michael O’Malley and Noel Quinlivan if they could play under the Harps Club name. The men could only see benefits from having a few young wans around so they agreed and provided a kit, blue jerseys that were around 15 years old and not meant to be worn in the heat of an Auckland summer and skin tight white shorts that Linford Christie would be proud of.
Harps Ladies 2004 Back L-R: Michael O’Malley, Kirsten Harty, Amy, Patricia O’Neill, Miria and Ella Allman, Lorraine Condon, Iveta Zelonkova, Teresa Dickenson Scott, Tanya Elliott, Donna McCullough, Joan Thomas Front: Mandy Richards, Timies, Sina Tuala, Shannon Ruddel, Renata Latimer, Ruth Quinn, Allison Fairman
At first the girls were happy enough to leave the lads running the club and making the decisions, they just wanted to play football. Little were we to know back then that within four years we would outnumber the men 2 to 1. The lads had a reputation as being a drinking team with a football habit and the gals were fast proving that they were heading in the same direction. When you see half the team arriving to the game being driven by a sober driver you just know it’s not going to be pretty. As a team, we held our own most weeks but were never really contenders for any silverware at the end of the season. However we had a very strong and proud tradition of doing well in the player of the year awards. Winning this trophy at least 7 out of the 10 years it has been awarded: Lena Fogerty, Claire Flavin, Iveta Latimer (joint winner), Suzanne Stevens, Claire Peters, Didi O’Sullivan and Yvonne Gill were just 7 ladies that took to the pitch in the Harps Blue. In 2005 we lost our losing streak, winning the Championship for the first time. A well deserved win from a team that gave 100% every week. The coach decided it was best to keep the players close at hand that normally went a little nuts on a Saturday night so they couldn’t drink too much and not be able to play the next morning, the plan worked and Harps Ladies bagged their first ever piece of silver. And to top off a great season Claire Flavin won Auckland player of the year. The celebrations went on for weeks and it was a fantastic time for players and supporters alike.
2005 Championship Winners Back L – R: Michael O’Malley, Frances Flavin, Shannon Ruddell, Renata Latimer, Tanya Elliot, Donna McCullough, Jennifer Glover, Joan Thomas, Teresa Dickenson, Miria Allman, Patricia O’Neill Front Row L-R: Kirsty White, Elaine Clapton, Tanya Burist, Amanda Whitehead, Erin Smith, Suzy Clifton, Claire Flavin, Gaylene le Bas
2006 was a great year for the Club, after a major recruiting drive we managed to field two teams, the second ladies being called the Harps “Rebels”, as Auckland GAA were willing to give us a loan of the Cork kit left behind by the Cork hurlers the year before. Martin Conlon and Kevin Harrington stepped up and coached the Rebels. The team was made up of all new recruits, many had never played football before but there were a handful of experienced players in the mix including Emma Mansfield, Christina Sinnott and the recently arrived Gill cousins, Noreen and Yvonne. Club veterans Jacqui Stanton and Megan Dixon also started their Harps careers with the Rebels. Unfortunately the Rebels girls didn’t quite manage to win a game, but the new players came on leaps and bounds and great fun was had by all.
Trish continued to look after the existing Harps ladies team made up of all the existing players and complemented by some of the new recruits, including Claire Peters, Bridget Wallace, Sorcha Feore and Elaine Clarke. If talking about winning games it is a year best left forgotten really. We lost the league to Gaels in the final game of the year by 1 point, 2 weeks later it was a case of déjà vu as we lost the Championship to Gaels by 1 point. Best left forgotten. It was a case of ‘so close but so far’ and bitterly disappointing for the girls. However, off the field you would have thought the girls had won the lot. With two teams of girls and a lot of fresh off the boats, Sunday nights in the Clare Inn were legendary, often spilling over into the wee hours of the morning in The Fiddler.
Fielding two teams was an amazing achievement for any Gaelic Club, let alone one in NZ, 14,000 miles from Croke Park. It shows the commitment, hard work and dedication by every member of the Club. Harps ladies took 14 out of the 25 places available that year in the All Stars panel, which shows the depth of talent around, unfortunately the All Stars game was lost in the same manner that year, by 1 point. There was some consolation with Claire Peters deservedly taking out Auckland Player of the Year.
2006 also marked one of the most talked about and successful fundraisers in Harps history. Trish came up with the idea of “Stars in your Eyes” and then gently persuaded a few club members to provide the musical entertainment. There was Jacqui Stanton as Madonna, Mick O’Malley as Elvis, Enda ‘the good bull’ Healy and Brian ‘Muscles’ Walsh (not sure how a Celtic man got roped in) as the Blues Brothers, Yvonne Gill as Dolly Parton, Noreen Gill as Bob Marley and Feilim Gormley, Martin Conlon, Claire Peters and Renata Latimer as ABBA. With the men winning the championship the season finished on a high, with the annual Christmas bbq/ prizegiving being another highlight.
2006 Harps Rebels
Back L-R: Helen Murray Scott, Noreen Gill, Sinead O’Loughlin, Fiona Ryder (c), Christina Sinnott, Jacqui Stanton, Tara Smith, Janine Rapson, Veda, Anne Scot, Martin Conlon (Coach)
Front: Emma Mansfield, Megan Dixon, Yvonne Gill, Tina, Julie Houghton, Danielle, Pradeep Singh, Erin Van Dutch
2007 saw Auckland returning to the Australasian Games after a long sabbatical and with Patricia O’Neill and Noreen Gill in charge there was a large Harps contingent involved. There were a large number of departures from the previous year and coming straight off the back of the Australasian Games nobody had the energy for the same recruitment drive, so it was decided that we would consolidate and return to just one ladies team. So the Harps Rebels retired after just one season (who knows one day they might need to be resurrected).
With the Paddies team reformed, the league remained at four. After their success the previous season Gaels were considerably weakened by the loss of the Paddies players, so it ended up being a Harps v Celtic year. Celtic took out the crucial league decider and also went on to win the championship. The Auckland Player of the Year remained in Harps hands, with Suzanne Stevens taking the honours.
In 2008 Claire Peters had returned to Ireland, and was a huge loss to the team. The girls gave it their best shot but the tables had turned and it was Celtic and Paddies turn to battle it out for the honours and they shared the silverware that year.
2009 rolled round and it looked like it was gonna be the same as every other year. Paddy Fahy had done a great job and we were training on the pitch next to the lads in Mt Eden, it is a great location and we are still training there today. In normal fashion emails started coming in asking when was training starting for Gaelic, we seemed to have lots of numbers so started around the beginning of September as usual. Sandra was roped in again to help out with the admin side of things and to be a sympathetic ear when the coach was being too hard. This was to be Harps Ladies year to shine, and shine they did. We started well in the league, and got better every week. We held our nerve and secured the league trophy giving Harps ladies their first taste of silverware in 4 years. Championship rolled around and as usual the other clubs upped their game. The semi final against Gaels proved to be a very tough challenge, which could have gone either way. The girls dug deep and scores from Suzy Stevens and Frances Flavin in the dying minutes secured our place in the final, against the old foe Celtic. Celtic’s ranks had also been boosted by some fresh imports and we knew we were set for a classic final. With the words “Are ye women or are ye footballers?” ringing in our ears, we took the field. It was a close game, true end to end stuff. In a great team performance everyone on and off the pitch gave it their all and we held on to win the double. Finally our day had come.
What a year, it’s hard to even begin to describe the feeling and emotions that went with it. There were a few players that had been around since the very beginning and had felt the pain of losing and it was great just to see them stuck for words. Miria Allman, Tanya Elliott, Amanda Whitehead and Shannon Ruddell spring to mind, along with some other past players that were there in a support role cheering on the girls and some very important up an coming young ladies too, Ella being our number one supporter (not many know this but Ella has actually played for us already!!). Quite a good few girls had been around for a number of years too and in true Harps style partied hard until the wee hours, Yvonne Gill, Elaine Clarke, Suzanne Stevens, Jacqui Stanton, Frances Flavin, Sonya O’Neil, Megan Dixon, Julie Houghton and Lynda Burnside. Some newies joined the team that year and without them we would never have done the double. Didi O’Sullivan, Nuala Grace, Eilis Breen, Orla McDonnell, Orla Costin, Laura Cliffe, Laura McEvoy, Mary Dowling, Daphne Lawless, Clare Parsons, Leena Kaloinen, Shirley Wong and Ana Corbett all joined the ranks. Celebrations in the Clare Inn continued in the run up to Christmas culminating with the annual Harps Christmas BBQ. Didi O’Sullivan continued in the Harps tradition being named Auckland Player of the Year.
2009 League and Championship Winners
Back L-R: Edel Robinson, Didi O’Sullivan, Nuala Grace, Daphne Lawless, Jacqui Stanton, Ana Corbett, Mary Dowling, Tanya Elliot, Orla Costin, Eilis Breen
Middle: Laura McEvoy, Clare Parsons, Shirley Wong, Yvonne Gill, Elaine Clarke, Suzanne Stevens, Patricia O’Neill, Sandra O’Keefe
Front Row: Leena Kaloinen, Miria Allman, Orla McDonnell, Tessa Hickson, Laura Cliffe, Shannon Ruddel.
After the great success of 2009 season, 2010 saw a lot of changes. It was a very sad day for the club when Patricia O’Neil headed back to Ireland. Trish is a true Harps legend, and the sky blue blood runs deep within her. She was an integral part of Harps ladies from the start. Trish was also a great advocate for Ladies football both at Harps and in Auckland, there was no chance of the Ladies being forgotten about when Trish was fighting our corner and she is greatly missed by all ‘her girls’.
Mick O’Malley stepped in as coach with Sandra continuing as manager. We also lost no fewer than 7 of the starting 15 from the previous double winning season, including club stalwarts Suzanne Stevens and Frances Flavin who joined the newly formed Emerald City. Another new team, Slante also joined the competition, bringing the total to six teams, and for the first time a stronger showing than the men.
In essence we had to start from scratch. We had huge numbers out at training but there were a lot of first timers so it was back to basics. Newcomers included Didi’s friends, house mates, sister in law and work colleague, Caoimhe Church, Dee Gough, Cathy Haplin and Martha Purcell, basically anyone she could rope in. Louise McCormick, Donna Nelis, Reecey McCoy, Michelle Cahil, Martina Brogan, Jess Price, Alex Richardson, Aimee Bower and Carina Laverty also joined the Harps family. Things didn’t start well with injuries to key players early in the season. Eilis ‘Sheila fit’ Breen broke her thumb in a preseason friendly and Captain Jacqui Stanton was forced to hang up her boots for good when her dodgy knee didn’t hold up. Although the results weren’t coming our way on the field the team spirit was fantastic and the newbies were getting better every week. We finished the season on a high beating Paddies in the final league game on a Friday evening, only to lose to them in extra time in the championship semi on the Sunday. New team on the block, Emerald City, exploded onto the scene and won the league and Championship. We did manage to secure some silverware with Yvo winning Auckland player of the Year, following in a long line of Harps tradition.
The 2011 season saw Jonny Togher step up to be Mick’s trusty sidekick with Jacqui as manager. Didi and Yvo were named as joint captains. Frances Flavin returned to the fold after her season at Emerald City and we welcomed a whole new crop of Harpettes: Louise Holland, Claire Owens, Eilish O’Brien, Sinead O’Connor, Jo Sullivan, Sarah Dowling, Aoife Cunningham, Jacqui King and Roisin Keogh. We started off the season with a hard fought victory against Celtic, but then struggled with losses against Emerald City and Gaels. It was a bit of a mixed bag of a season finishing mid table. Emerald City retained the league while Gaels won the Championship. Didi kept up the tradition of Harps winning Player of Year and is so far the only player to have won that award twice.
Back L-R: Mick O’Malley (Coach), Irene Muirhead, Shelly Cahill, ?, Jess Price, Nuala Grace, Mel, DiDi O’Sullivan (c), Frances Flavin, Eilis Breen, Aoife Cunningham, Soupy, Jacqui King, Claire Owens
Front L-R: Sarah Dowling, Elaine Clarke, Mids Allman, Ella Allman Caoimhe Church, Yvo Gill (c), Joanne Sullivan, Louise McCormick, Eilish O’Brien, Vicky
2012 saw a lot of changes with Mick stepping down as manager Sarge and Brian Foley stepping up to take charge. Paddies dropped out of the competition and Marist entered a ladies team for the first time. With Didi and Eilis having departed and Frances hanging up our boots we were down quite a few of the old guard. However, we started the season with a massive influx of new players. Catherine Twomey, Yvonne 2vo Bushell, small friend Ruth, smaller friend Gayle, Katie Mac, Ange, Sheila O’Connor, Tina Moheau and Marcia. Jacqui went on a recruiting drive and rounded up a couple of friends who were going to miss the pre season training because one of them was playing Hockey for NZ in some tournament. “You don’t mean the Olympics do you Jax?”. “Ah yeah that’s it she’s playing in the Olympics” Best excuse for missing pre season training ever! So fresh back from London 2012 Krystal and Bex joined the ranks and increased our Kiwi contingency. With a lot of new players and new management there was a great atmosphere and lots of hard work put in on the training ground, and the results started to come on the pitch. Off the pitch there were plenty of Sunday sessions in the Clare Inn and Golf Pros and Tennis Ho’s party at 2vo’s was pretty memorable.
Going into the last game of the league we had won all our games but one to Emerald City. Our opposition in that last game was Celtic and they had also only lost one game. Our goal difference was superior but there was all to play for and we wanted to win the league with a win. Celtic had the upper hand in the first half and we went into the break down by a couple of points. At half time there was a collective determination that we could still win this and we went back out in the 2nd half with ‘fire in our bellies’. Within a few minutes we had levelled the score and then started to draw away. Celtic couldn’t get the ball out of their own half and gave away a few frees in front of goal. Captain Yvo led from the front scoring 6 points in the 2nd half and in the end that was the winning margin. The celebrations went on well into the night in the Clare Inn. Thunder Struck was also introduced as our new theme tune.
Championship rolled round and we drew Emerald City in the first round. They beat us well and that was the end of our season. Celtic narrowly beat Gaels in a very close final and picked up their first piece of silverware for a number of years. Harps newcomer Krystal Forgesson picked up Auckland Player of the Year in her ever season of Gaelic football, a great achievement.
Back L-R: Jacqui Stanton, Soupy, Katie McMahon, Daphne Lawless, Krystal Forgesson, Mel, Tina, Ange, Marcia Sanso, Sinead O’Connor, Nuala Grace, Sheila O’Connor, Mary, Gayle O’Flanagan, Aisling, Christina, Sarah Dowling, Roisin Keogh, Frankie, Sarge (Coach)
Front L-R: Louise Holland, Jo Sullivan, Yvo Gill (c), Bex Apuni, Ca Twomey, Eilish O’Brien, Yvonne Bushell, Caoimhe Church, Elaine Clarke, Mids, Ruth Madigan, Shelly Cahil. Ella Allman
The 2013 season rolled round quickly enough. Emerald City joined forces with St Pat’s and were renamed St Pats Emerald City or SPEC. Sarge moved over to coach Marist ladies so Brian Foley enlisted the help of Mick Crowley. We welcomed newcomers Sinead Ennis, Anita Thompson, Leah Henning, Lorraine Kilroy, Denise McCullogh and Kendyl. Yvo handed over the captaincy to her namesake 2vo, with Nuala as Vice Captain. At the very beginning of the season we set the aim of going one better than last year and winning the double. Mick really put us through our paces in pre season training getting our fitness up there. We started off well winning our early matches and convincingly beating Emerald City who had been our bogey team over the past few years. Then Brian and Ro headed off on their travels and Katie Mc stepped up to help out Mick. We sent a 7 aside team down to the Feis in Wellington where a great time was had by all and a bit of football was played. We got to the final and narrowly lost to Christchurch McKenna’s.
We hit a blip in our first game against Celtic where they beat us well. Going into the Christmas break we were slightly ahead of Celtic and Gaels. First up after Christmas was Celtic and we were missing a few of the girls who weren’t back from their hols. After the first round defeat we were determined to win, and we were like a different team winning convincingly. We went into our final game of the season against Gaels needing to win or draw to retain the league. Gaels really brought it to us and a very hard fought game ended up being a draw. We then needed to get the calculator out to figure out if Celtic could pip us to the post on goal difference if they won their final game. Our earlier results clinched it for us with Celtic needing to win by more than 70 points which wasn’t to be.
After celebrating the league win in the usual style it was straight back to the training ground to concentrate on Championship. With Mick and Jo heading home on holiday for a month, new men’s team recruit Jason Lynch stepped into the breach. Building on the foundation Mick had established Jason kept up the tempo and had an uncanny talent to out talk us! Once again we were up against Emerald City (SPEC) in the semi final. In probably the toughest match of the year we drew ahead in the first half but then came under a barrage of attack from SPEC. It was a case of blanket defence from us and missed opportunities from them. They racked up 20 wides, but all credit to our defence they put serious pressure on the SPEC attackers and didn’t let them get any free shots off. We ended up winning by 1 point and the dream of the double was still on.
Next up Celtic in the final ( The Clare Inn would be happy either way!) We were missing Krystal and Anita hobbling onto the pitch drugged up to her eyeballs with a suspected broken foot. We started off the brighter knocking up a few early points. Then Daphne decided to make things a bit more interesting by scoring an ‘own point’, which will be talked about for years to come. To the complete disbelief from all players, officials and spectators Daphne caught the ball in front of her goal then started heading out but instead of clearing the ball over the side line, she turned around back towards her own goal and kicked it over the bar. Surely a first for any gaelic football match anywhere in the world. We went into half time up by a point and Jason fired us up with some inspirational words. The second half was just as close and we got to full time all square. After extra time there was still nothing between the teams and we heading into double extra time. Hobbling Anita managed to fight through the pain and score a point that put us out in front and then Captain 2vo got another to put us 2 points up and finally the final whistle blew. With Celtic winning the men’s Championship the celebrations in the Clare Inn went on well into the night and continued the next day, with Chandeliers and toilet seats being the main casualties.
To finish up the season we sent a team down to Christchurch for the first New Zealand Club Championships over St Patrick’s weekend. 3 days of drinking and a bit of football was a great way to finish a fantastic season. We even came away with a bit more Silverware, winning the Shield.
Harps Ladies 2013/14 – League and Championship Winners
Back L-R: Mick Crowley (Coach), Krystal Forgesson, Shiela O’Connor, Sinead O’Connor, Daphne Lawless, Lorraine Kilroy, Denise McCullough, Caiomhe Church, Joanne Sullivan, Nuala Grace, Katie McMahon (Coach)
Front: Anita Thompson, Catherine Twomey, Yvonne 2vo Bushell (C), Yvonne Gill, Kendyl Cherry, Eilish O’Brien, Gayle O’Flanagan, Rebecca Apanui, Miria Allman
Missing: Elaine Clarke, Sinead Ennis, Leah Henning, Ruth Madigan
Back L-R: Mary, Eilish O’Brien, Yvonne Bushell, ? Nuala Grace, Sinead Ennis.
Front L-R: Ca Twomey, Elaine Clarke, Ruth Madagan, Yvo Gill.
Harps Ladies 2014/15 – League Winners
Back L-R: Sinead Ennis, Eilish O’Brien, Mary Coleman, Laura Kenny, Claire Owens, Francis Marron, Nuala Grace, Daphane Lawless, Kendyl Cherry, Yco Gill.
Middle L-R: Elaine Clarek, Jack, Ruth Madigan, Grainne Meaney, Lisa Kemp, Lorraine Kilroy, Bex Apanui, Ca Twomey, Krystal Forgesson
Front L-R: Jo Sullivan, Aoibheann Crowley, Sinead O’Connor.
Harps Camogie Team 2014/15 – Championship Winners
L-R: Sinead Ennis, Grainne Meaney, Mary Coleman, Yvo Gill, Elaine Clarke, Nuala Grace, Eilish O’Brien, ca Twomey, Ruth Madigan. Missing: Orla
Harps Ladies 2015/16 – Championship Winners
Back L-R: Siobhan Ford, Emer O’Neill, Ellie Cahill, Ange Moore, Breda Ruane, Sinead O’Connor, Francis Marron, Mary Coleman, Grainne Meaney, Krystal forgesson, Daphane Lawless, Nuala Grace, JO O’Leary, Laura O’Sullivan, Ciara Walsh, Gayle Flanagan, Bex Apanui, Emma Duggan, Maeve Scully, Lizzie O’Halloran.
Front L-R: Yvonne Wynne, Yvo Gill, Sharon O’Brien, Ciana Connelly, Eilish O’Brien, Sinead Ennis, Ca Twomey, Lorraine Kilroy, Elaine Clarke, Jo Sullivan, Jason Lynch.
Harps Camogie 2015/16 – League & Championship Winners
Back L-R: Lisa Tobin, Elaine Clarke, Kate Lyons, Nuala Grace, Karrie Reilly, Ellie Cahill, Daphane Lawless, Maria Fox, Breda Ruane, Mary Coleman.
Front L-R: Yvonne Wynne, Helena Lyons, Clare Lyons, Emma Duggan, Eilish O’Brien, Yvo Gill, Lizzie O’Halloran, Maeve Scully