In 1994, Bill Daly made his move. He drafted a proposal to the Club Executive requesting that a Ladies Football Section be established. As always a careful planner, Bill had prepared the way by firstly airing the subject with then Chair and Vice Chair John Kirwan and Gerry O’Sullivan. He left in the knowledge that he was pushing an open door and in no time the Ladies Section was formed with Bill as its first Chair and guiding light. The operating name of the club was changed to Ballyboden St Endas GAA, Camogie and Ladies Football Club – the first of its kind in Ireland. It is interesting to note that it has taken the three National Associations nearly 20 years to agree that integrating the Gaelic games organisations is in the best interests of all parties – Ballyboden St Endas made that call two decades ago.
Bill’s association with Ladies Football was rather fortuitous. The Ladies Football Association was formed in 1974 but had made little impression on the mind-set of the club. Kathleen O’Sullivan who has played such a leading role in the development of camogie asked Bill if he would help with some football coaching in Loreto Girls National School. Bill obliged and the team made it to the Cumann na mBunscol final in Croke Park. The seeds had now been sown and as many of the girls were camogie players with the club, the natural next step was for the club to offer the game it its female members.
Bill’s prowess as a football coach pre-dated his ladies football involvement. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Bill was part and parcel of the underage football scene in the club with comrades like Padraig McManus, Greg Heraty and others. He was part of big breakthroughs in 1993 when the club won its second Minor Football championship and in 1995 when the first U21 championship was captured. Players of the calibre of his son Daire, Gary Colleran, Eric Millar, Shane Heraty, Geoffrey Haughton,Nigel Curran, Damien Bolger, Donal Griffin, Patrick Greville, Alan Ryan and more were among those to come under his tutelage.
That love for the big ball was nurtured in his native Mullagh near Bailieborough in County Cavan where Bill was born and raised. He played for Cavan in the 1956 Ulster final losing by two points to Armagh. His brother Peter had an active playing and management role in the club during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Like Peter, Bill was a proud member of An Garda Siochána. In that capacity he worked in Scotstown (Monaghan) and Callan (Kilkenny) and spent many periods in Dublin on Ministerial Detail looking after the transport and other needs of former Taoiseach Sean Lemass, former Parliamentary Secretary Noel Lemass and especially with fellow Cavan man Government Minister and Tánaiste John Wilson. John Wilson had been a famous Cavan footballer and played in the 1947 All-Ireland final in the Polo Grounds against Kerry when the Ulster side was victorious. In 1997, Bill was present in the club when the Boden honoured John and another member, the late Batt Garvey, who played for Kerry in that famous final fifty years earlier.
Whatever Bill did in the club, his able lieutenant was his wife Nuala who died in 2013 after a difficult battle with illness. Nuala shared in all the joys and celebrations associated with those days when the club began to make rapid strides forward.
There were many highlights – the first senior ladies championship in 2000, the trip to Paris in 2002 with the senior championship winning camogie team, the first Leinster Club title in the club’s history in 2001 and the crowning glory – the All-Ireland title win in St Brendan’s Park, Birr in 2004.
Bill served at Dublin County Board, Leinster Provincial Council and national levels in many capacities. He was a national figure – respected and acknowledged for the great work that he did. He managed the Leinster Ladies Football team, a Dublin Ladies Football Board Hall of Fame recipient in 2005, and lots more.
His name is commemorated in the Bill Daly Perpetual Cup which goes to the winners of the Leinster Senior Club title. But Bill Daly’s memory will last longer than any material thing. He was a man of the highest integrity, soft spoken but firm in his views. He was meticulous in the way he led the Ladies Football section but he was first and foremost a committed Boden clubman. Current Club Ladies Football Committee Chair Pat Conway puts it simply “an out and out gentleman”.
To Liam, Peter, Caitríona and Dáire and his wider circle of family and friends – Solas na bhFhlaitheas Síoraí ar a anam uasal.