Up the Mairead Farrells

Maireads in Frisco

Sinead Fegan, Niamh McGowan, Laura McGillion, Adele Gallagher and Orla Fegan. (Photo by Peter McDermott)

It was a tougher fight this time around, but Philadelphia’s own Mairead Farrells are back from the North American Gaelic Athletic Association finals with their second-in-a-row ladies senior football championship.

The locals beat Boston’s talented Tir na nOg team 3-9 to 3-7 in the Labor Day weekend finals, having previously edged out San Francisco’s home team, the Fog City Harps, in the semi-finals.

Angela Mohan, the Mairead Farrells’ coach and manager, said she wasn’t surprised at the tight margin of success in the city by the bay. “The teams knew we ran away with it last year,” she said, “so it was very close this year.”

In the semi-finals, the outcome hinged on the outcome of a penalty shot in the final five minutes of the game. “Ciara Moore (the team captain) nailed it,” said Mohan. She converted the penalty, which helped us to go on and win that game.”

In the finals, Mohan acknowledges that the win was truly a group effort, but she credits goalkeeper Desiree DeBaldo for her fierce defense. DeBaldo is a longtime soccer player (she played for the University of Scranton), and Mohan says her mental toughness helped win the day. “She’s outstanding. I mean, everybody was outstanding, but she’s an American girl who learned the game and is very good in the net. She’s your typical soccer player who is not afraid to dive.”

Mohan says she was thinking about retiring, but she is so excited by the possibility of a hat trick that she’s going to hang around. And next year’s North American games will be fought here in Philadelphia, which would make a three-peat especially sweet.

And who knows, Mohan says. The Maireads might even go on to beat another record–that of Philadelphia’s celebrated Emerald Eagles, who won four senior titles in a row. “I played for the Emerald Eagles back then in the ’90s, and that record has never been broken,” she says. “My goal is to beat my own record. We’ll see what happens. One year at a time.”

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