Sarah McIlvenna (née O’Neill) RIP

The death has occurred of Sarah McIlvenna (née O’Neill)

On Sunday 14th May 1944 the first ever Geraldine’s Portglenone team took to the camogie pitch. They played a challenge game against neighbours Greenlough from across the Bann river in Derry and in goals that day was Sarah O’Neill. 

Sarah went on to represent Portglenone for many years although seldom confined to being between the posts.

She was a member of the Antrim teams that won the All-Ireland finals in 1946 and 1947 following on from the Saffrons’ initial success in the O’Duffy Cup in 1945.

She continued to represent Antrim and appeared in the forward line in the 1950, 1951 and 1952 all of which Antrim lost to Dublin.

The Antrim team in the pre-match parade before before winning the 1946 All Ireland final at the expense of Galway in Corrigan Park.

A few years ago, Sarah recalled her Antrim playing days mentioning how she cycled from her home in Lisnahuncheon to Ballymena to get the train to Belfast to training and the return journey was more than likely made in pitch darkness.

At club level Sarah also represented neighbouring club Ahoghill when there were not enough numbers to play in Portglenone and she won an Antrim championship title with her adopted club in 1949.

Once the Geraldine’s were up and running again Sarah was back with them and even after her playing days she remained a firm club and Antrim supporter, leaving on all the buses that departed Porglenone to go to finals in Croke Park and other venues.

Her daughters Brenda and Bronagh also played for the Geraldine’s and Bronagh was a member of the Antrim Under 16 team that lost narrowly to Galway in the 1981 All-Ireland final. 

Bean uasal atá anois ar shlí na fírinne. Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh sí.

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