The Essex Shillelaghs Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) announces the formation of a Ladies Gaelic Football league, with its home base in West Orange. This follows the successful launch of its Youth Gaelic Football League this past year, along with nationwide enthusiasm for women’s athletics.

Gaelic football, a beloved sport deeply rooted in Irish culture, blends the physicality of soccer, the skill of basketball, and the high-scoring nature of Australian rules football. While the sport may be unfamiliar to many, its fast-paced gameplay offers an exciting alternative to traditional soccer.

The Ladies Gaelic Football practices will be hosted on West Orange’s Stagg Field on Wednesday nights this summer, with games beginning in September. The matches will be in the “B” division and first-time players will find themselves very welcome. Most of the game travel will
be to venues within 40 miles of West Orange, including Queens, the Bronx, Yonkers and Orangeburg, NY.

At the helm of the new ladies’ league—nicknamed the “Shi-Ladies”—are head coaches Ciara O’Donoghue and Mairead Tamayne.

“GAA is a passion of mine,” said O’Donoghue. “After moving to the U.S. from Ireland in 2022, it is a comfort to be able to compete in a familiar sport. Equally important is being part of something bigger than myself and sharing the culture and joy of the game with others.”

O’Donoghue, originally from Manor Kilbride in County Wicklow, started playing Gaelic Football at age 9, winning numerous championships during her teens and being named player of the match on a few occasions. She also played for the Blessington Lakeside Girls U15 soccer team, which was crowned All-Ireland Community Games champion. She earned a degree in nursing
from University College Dublin, as well as a master’s degree in biomedical sciences from Aberdeen University in Scotland. She currently works as a senior outsourcing manager at Regeneron.

A native of Maywood, NJ, Tamayne played co-ed Gaelic football with Saint Joseph’s GAA from U8-U14 then with Rockland GAA girl’s league, as well as with Gaelic4Girls from U10-U16 and on their Jr and Sr Level Women’s teams. She competed in Ireland with NY Feile where the U14 team won a Division II All Ireland Medal. At 16, she was the youngest woman to ever represent the NY Ladies GAA in Ireland County at the Jr Level for an All- Ireland Championship as starting goalkeeper. Tamayne holds a Level l coaching certificate from the NY Minor Board and also referees for Gaelic4Girls. A top athlete in soccer and lacrosse at Paramus Catholic High School, she currently attends New Jersey Institute of Technology majoring in Mechanical and Construction Engineering Technology.

“The rising popularity of women’s sports is not just a trend; it speaks to years of hard work and dedication from female athletes worldwide,” said Tamayne. “Being a part of this Ladies Gaelic Football league is our way of contributing to this incredible movement, especially since most girls after the age of 12 stop playing sports. Fostering these opportunities from a young age keeps women’s sports alive and the Essex Shillelaghs is providing an incredible way to tie sport and culture together for women of all ages.”

Deloitte forecasts that in 2024 the revenue for women’s sports will exceed $1 billion for the first time. Record numbers of viewers are tuning in for women’s college basketball games, thanks in part to the performances of stars like Caitlin Clark. Meanwhile, the Professional Women’s Hockey League is kicking off its first season, and the National Women’s Soccer League is embarking on its 12th season with expansion on the horizon.

Added O’Donoghue, “It’s more than a game; it’s about creating opportunities, inspiring the next generation, and showing that the sky’s the limit for women in sports.”

For those interested in joining the Ladies Gaelic Football league (ages 21 and up), visit or email

About the Essex Shillelaghs Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)
In association with the Town of West Orange Recreation Department, the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh of Essex County, and the New York GAA Minor Board, the Essex Shillelaghs GAA program aims to increased awareness and involvement within the community, as well as building a regional network within the Irish community across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. To learn more, visit or email

Contact:     Lorraine Joyce, Public Relations Officer   
     Mobile: 973-865-7570         Email: