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Blog: Suffragettes FC

Suffragettes FC: Iconic Finglas-based women's soccer club

  • Club was a family affair with links to Bohemian FC and the Dublin junior soccer circuit
  • It retains a mythical status in Irish women's soccer

RECORDS indicate Suffragettes FC were formed in 1970 in Finglas, Dublin.

Early newspaper reports listed the team name as "Suffering Jets", implying they were formed as a giggle then got serious later on.

The Doran soccer dynasty of Dublin's Northside 

Godfather of Dublin junior soccer Andy Doran sadly died in December 1973, leaving his wife May, four daughters and three sons.

Andy was a former All-Ireland junior Gaelic handball player and had been been an official of the Leinster Junior Soccer League for 10 years.

His son John played soccer for Bohemian FC and daughters Dolores and Carol both played for Suffragettes.

When an organic women's soccer boom engulfed Dublin, the Leinster Junior Soccer League had set up a women's section to cater for local teams playing outside the rival Civil Service League.

John Doran coached the Suffragettes team, who trained twice a week: "He really made sure we were properly fit," said star player Bernie Cassidy.

Bohemian FC 

Famously, Bohs are Ireland's hipster club. Quaffing craft beers and cultivating trendy beards, fans tend to seek out alliances with other right-on lefties at clubs like Celtic, Wrexham and St. Pauli.

Their Dalymount Park ground ("Dalyer") is the spiritual home of Irish soccer. But for some reason - like St. Pauli - they've been curiously slow to run a women's team themselves.

Back then David Parkes, John Doran's Bohemians team-mate and - like John - a steady full-back, also coached Suffragettes.

Glory years

Placed in Leinster Ladies League Division Two for the inaugural 1971 season, Suffragettes duly carried off the trophy.

In September 1971 they reached the first final of the Leinster Cup but lost out to Division One Julian Vards, 5-0 at Richmond Park.

Suffragettes also scooped the national Cup, beating Fit Remoulds (named for a Kilkenny tyre factory) in the final in Kilkenny.

This "historic soccer game" took place in January 1972 at St John's Park, Kilkenny. Controversially, it was reported as the first ever soccer game at a GAA ground.

The Kilkenny GAA secretary Paddy Grace had a couple of daughters - Ursula and Mary - playing in the Fit Remoulds squad.

Breda Hanlon's 12th-minute strike settled the game in Suffragettes' favour and won the Cup.

The match had been slated for Tolka Park on Boxing Day, but was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

"Goal hungry forwards Barbara Hughes, Stella Clarke and Breda Hanlon" fired newly-promoted Suffragettes to Leinster League Division One glory in 1972, although rivals Dublin All-Stars ejected them from the national Cup.

Stella Clarke was a pioneering black footballer, nicknamed Eus├ębio in homage to the Benfica and Portugal great.

Clarke had been Suffragettes' tormentor-in-chief while playing for Vards, before making a high-profile cross-Liffey transfer.

Carol Doran of Suffragettes was named as a substitute in Ireland's 3-3 draw with Wales at Limerick, 26 May 1974, as was club team-mate Catherine Cooley.

In their heyday Suffragettes fielded a string of international players who appear in our A-Z: Eileen Brennan, Marie Brown, Bernie Cassidy, Jan Mooney and Margaret O'Connell.

They carried off the 1977 Ladies' League of Ireland without conceding a goal then beat Dublin Avengers in the LFAI Cup final to secure a Double.

When Cork Celtic were swept aside 5-0 in a League fixture at Flower Lodge, the Cork Evening Echo branded Suffragettes one of the finest women's teams in Europe.

Later years

In January 1979 Bernie Cassidy penned a letter published in the Evening Herald, begging for new recruits: "preferably girls who have played soccer before".

If that was the first distress signal out of the club, things were not yet at tipping point, as their rampant success continued unabated.

Back-to-back LFAI Cup triumphs followed in 1980 and 1981.

In December 1981 they faced Limerick factory team Analog Devices in the final of the President's Cup.

Around this time there was also a short-lived Suffragettes club in Belfast, formed and player-managed by NIWFA chief Mary McVeigh (pronounced "Meery").

Dublin Suffragettes contested the Leinster Ladies' League Cup final v Glade Celtic at Harold's Cross, 17 October 1982, as curtain raiser to a men's Shels v Shams LOI derby.

For some reason their stars were out of favour with Ireland manager of the day Tony Kelly, all being described at that stage as an ex-national team players.

It appears the club disbanded shortly afterwards.

Several of the big name players pitched up en masse at Belevedere, who reached the LFAI Cup final in the first year of their existence (1985).


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