We’ve heard of the Boys from Killybegs, but behind every successful team there are a group of ladies who do unseen work. This has been happening in Killybegs for close on 30 years.
The song The Boys from Killybegs is well known, but there is another group in the fishing town which are just as famous as the ‘boys’.
The girls who operate the tearooms now at Fintra as well at the old ground, are just as well known for their hospitality, banter and support of the boys in red and white.
In the old McDevitt Park and now at Eamonn Byrne Memorial Park, there is a coterie of ladies who dedicate themselves to the Na Cealla Beaga club with just as much commitment as any of the players or managers who ply their trade inside the white lines.
The Killybegs club were one of the frontrunners in providing a tearoom on match days and three ladies, in particular, have been to the fore at the club for close on 30 years - Sheila Cunningham, Mary Boyle and Patricia Murrin.
They have been joined by many more over the years, too many to mention without leaving someone out.
Most of them have an involement because of a family member turning out for one of the club’s teams. It usually begins at underage and sometimes the bug just stays.
It was thus for Mary Boyle, a native of Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim, who came to Killybegs in the late 1960s, married Charles Boyle and with talented offspring like Mark and Declan, there was just nothing for it but get involved.
“I think it all began with John Joe O’Shea and a Feile team going to Cork, organising fund-raisers, etc., and it just blossomed from there,” said Mary.
“First it was the children, now we are coming up to support grandchildren.
“I would miss it now if it wasn’t there. No matter how long you are away you want to go back.
“Sheila (Cunningham) still comes up and still bakes a cake of bread. Her bread would be famous,” said Mary.
When you arrive at Fintra on match days, you are always directed to the kitchen for tea or sometimes even soup (which is very welcome on cold spring and autumn days).
However, you need accreditation or you won’t get access if Gracie O’Hara is on gate duty. Gracie is another of that band who chip in on match days and she can keep order around the dressing room entry area. Indeed, if you were short an umpire, she would fit the bill also.
As well as the tearoom, the club also operate a Tuck Shop and Mary Boyle said: “Don’t forget the Tuck Shop and Brenda. She has wonderful lollypops!”
“We get many characters coming into the tearooms, among them referees.
“We would have great banter with them. The late Liam Brown always held his own; then you would have the likes of Denis Ellis, Paddy Beag Gillespie and the Hegartys,” said Mary Boyle, who also said locals such as Peter McGinley, Donal Cannon and (Pauric) ‘Smackers’ Gallagher were quick with the tongue and were always winding them, but could take it as well.
“The girls are great. There is a wide bunch who are always willing to come in. If someone can’t make it, you can ‘phone someone and they will always oblige. There is never a cross word,” said Mary.
For the Leitrim woman, settling in Killybegs has been a great experience.
“It was a good move. There is a great sense of companionship in the town. They are a good people,” said Mary, who wanted to wish Na Cealla Beaga good luck from the tearoom ladies.
No doubt the girls from Killybegs are fully behind The Boys from Killybegs as they go in search of another senior county title.
For Mary Boyle, it is still special with son Mark playing in his eighth final and seeking a fifth win.