The Minister of Sport Catherine Martin officially opened the new Republic of Ireland Ladies Snooker Association National Female Cue Sports Academy at Sharkx Newbridge recently.

Minister Martin was delighted to open Ireland’s first female cue sports academy and wished everyone involved every success for the future.  She was amazed at the immense work done by the board of RILSA and the support from the National Lottery Sports Capital Grant Programme.  Minister Martin said “that she was looking forward to opening the first female cue sports academy in Ireland for a while now and excited to eventually meet all the board and players in attendance”  Our success in many areas was acknowledged, particularly in the Special Needs and Primary Schools as she is very much in favour of grassroots and participation in sport regardless of ability.

Our recent County Winner Award for good causes by the National Lottery was on display from hundreds of entries across Ireland, is an amazing achievement for RILSA and the work we do in the Special Needs area, much praise and thanks goes to Aidan Murray, Aileen O’Brien of St Marks in Newbridge and John Hogan in St Laserians Carlow and indeed all the teachers who are doing fantastic work.

Minister Catherine Martin was met by our President Annette Newman and introduced to our Chairman Dan Carroll who welcomed the Minister and introduced her to all in attendance.

The Minister was then invited into our academy where the Chairman made a welcome speech

On behalf of the Republic of Ireland Ladies Snooker Association, I extend the warmest of welcomes to

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

Minister Catherine Martin

Senator Vincent Martin

Francis Duffy TD

Cllr Peggy O’Dwyer

President and Board members of RILSA

Our player members 

Invited Guests

This Academy would not be here without the cooperation, support and dedication of many of you here present.  Especially the funding from the National Lottery, the Sports Capital Grant Programme, in particular Anne Vaughan who was so supportive in the whole process.  A big thank you to Bernie & Paul Traynor, the proprietors of Sharkx who provided the space and decorated the facility to a very high standard.  This club is the heartbeat of the local community, which provides a social space for young and old of Newbridge and many people from neighbouring counties.  This facility must be supported by all of us and encourage everyone to visit and experience such a fantastic place, where dreams do come true for some who pursue a sporting career in cue sports.

This Female Cue Sports Academy facility is the first of its kind in Ireland and indeed the World.  We are delighted to have this space and the opportunity to develop, promote and foster female cue sports here in Ireland.

As we celebrate female sport in Ireland, especially over the past few years, with increasing interest from the media gaining momentum in promoting and showcasing our athletes in many sports such as our National Hockey Team, the Ladies GAA, Women’s Rugby, Leona McGuire ladies Golf, Kellie Harrington and Katie Taylor Boxing and Rachel Blackmore horse racing, just to mention a few.

We in female cue sports have our own Katie Taylor’s, Rachel Blackmore’s and Leona McGuire’s, here among you today are our players who have all won events at various levels and do our country proud at International, European and World events.  Showcasing our players in Snooker, Billiards and Pool to a wider audience is ongoing, with plans to live stream events, to use all media avenues available.

This academy has already played host to a number of high profile events. Two World Women’s Billiards Ranking events, the Irish Open and Masters in 2021. The World Women’s Billiards Championship will take place here at the end of August this year, the first time the World Women’s Billiards Championship will be played in Ireland since its inception in 1931

A Home Nations Snooker Challenge will take place here on 9th July against a Northern Ireland team of 5 players taking on our team of Annette, Sandra, Margaret, Claire and Cathy

I want to thank Fergal O’Brien for his support towards female cue sports. Fergal joined the coaching team recently and will be a fantastic asset in helping to improve the standard of our players.

Thanks to Aidan Murray for all he does for female billiards and the time he gives to St Marks Special School here in Newbridge and Aileen O’Brien the deputy principal, thanks Aileen and the school for all your support.

Thanks to Ger Dunphy for his great work installing the tables.

I am delighted to see a former 4 times National Snooker Champion here, Brid Brennan nee Maxwell who dominated the tour in the late 1960’s and early 70’s

Thanks to all of our media friends here in support and we really appreciate all you do for female sport

Thanks to all of you for being here and taking the time out to witness this momentous occasion

I now call on the Minister Catherine Martin to cut the ribbon and officially open our Academy here at Sharkx Newbridge.

Minister Catherine Martin then spoke about the facility that is the first of it’s kind in Ireland and that female sport is making great progress.  She indicated that participation at all levels is so important and that RILSA’s involvement at every level is what sport is all about.  Getting more young girls into sport and encouraging them to remain playing sport is the key.  It’s important to make female sports more visible to a wider audience and that funding is available to enable this in the future.

Minister Catherine Martin then cut the ribbon to a rapturous roar and applauding by all in attendance.  She then took time out for photos and a demonstration from both Annette and Fergal on how to play.  Dan then invited the Minister to see the photos that are displayed on the walls giving her an overall insight to the history, success of various players in both snooker and billiards along with the our initiatives in schools around Ireland.

The Minister was then presented with a bunch of flowers on behalf of RILSA thanking her for taking the time out of her already extremely busy schedule to officiate the opening of Ireland’s first female cue sports academy.  Thank you ever so much Catherine Martin for all your support in recognising all our efforts and hard work over many years, this day will be remembered by us all as another great advancement in female sport.

Dan then showed the minister some of the silver ware and plaques that are played for each season and those that are dedicated to great people of our organisation who have since passed away.

This visit by Minister Catherine Martin is in recognition of our success in female cue sports and that she is fully supportive of our organisation going forward.  Minister Catherine Martin thanked everyone again on departing and will be keeping an eye out for our organisation and its future development

Thanks to Bernie, Paul and Leon of Sharkx for all their support and hard work in making this day such a success along with the Board and players of RILSA, thank you one and all.  Thanks to Helen, Alanna, Jordan and Tanya of the Minister’s office for all their support and help.   Thanks the Kildare Nationalist and Leinster Leader papers for their interest and support of female sport and our faithful Mick Fitz of Clontarf Media for his continued support over many years with RILSA

Thanks to everyone for making this occasion a memorable one that will go down in the history books as a positive step in the right direction for female sport.