Geraldine’s legend Mairead picks her best ever team

MY ULSTER TEAM – Máiréad McAtamney/Magill

Máiréad is pictured centre with the O’Duffy Cup flanked by her nieces Jackie (left) and Siobhán who also played in that All-Ireland winning Antrim team of 1979 and who make it into Máiréad’s top 15 Players from Ulster

Máiréad McAtamney made her debut for Antrim seniors when she was just 14 and was a permanent fixture at midfield for the Saffrons for more than two decades.

During her playing career Antrim dominated Ulster and reached seven All-Ireland senior finals winning the O’Duffy Cup on two occasions, 1967 and 1979. Máiréad was the 1979 captain. She also won a Gael Linn senior inter-provincial title with Ulster in 1967.

She was the only Ulster player selected on the Camogie Team of the Century in 2004, and she picked up a plethora of individual awards over the years including the Gaelic Games All-star (1965) and the B and I Player of the Year in 1979.

While still a student in Dominican Convent Portstewart, she coached and captained the school team to the only three Ulster senior finals they played in, collecting Corn Uan Uladh in 1961 and 1962.

Her club Portglenone didn’t win their first Antrim title until 1971, but between then and 1982 she helped them win seven Ulster club titles and she finished her club career in 1988 with her tenth Antrim club title.

Máiréad continues her involvement in camogie right up to the present day in her adopted club Tír na nÓg in Randalstown where she was coaching the under 14s last year.

She played all her camogie on 12-a-side teams and was able to dominate the game from midfield.  She was asked to select a team of players from Ulster that she had played with or against in her career and therefore every one of the players she has chosen were from the 12-a-side era.

“This is a 15-a-side team, but I have no problem with that. Most of the players I have selected were very adaptable and had they all been available at the peak of their careers, I am confident that we could have taken on anyone.”

“Having played for Antrim for 25 years and for Portglenone for 30, I could select 3 teams. I am forced to omit a number of excellent players I would love to have kept.

“During my playing career Antrim were Ulster senior champions and other counties played in the junior championship. The majority of players on my Ulster team are from Antrim but, having played on successful Portglenone senior club teams outside the county, I faced many excellent club players from the other counties.

Goal-keeper. Theresa Kearns/Cassidy (Dunloy and Antrim) and Carol Blaney/McAllister (Williams and Antrim).

I just cannot separate these two great goalies, so I want to play Theresa in the first half and Carol in the second.

Theresa was just 14 when she won her first All-Ireland in 1956 with a superb display against Cork in the final. She took centre stage again in 1967 where her aptitude for the role contributed to another Antrim victory. 

Carol Blaney/McAllister took over as Antrim keeper in 1979.  On her 21st birthday she gave an exhibition of goal keeping in 1979 in the final against Tipperary for which she received the AIB award. 

The Antrim team who beat Tipperary in the 1979 All Ireland final at Croke Park Back row, L-R – Josephine McClements Kathleen McGuaghey, Carol Blaney (McAllister) Philomena Gillespie (McKay), Siobhan McAtamney (Bradley), Mary McMullan (Connolly) Rita McAteer (Moran), Maeve O’Hagan Front row, L-R, , Susan McLarnon, Ann Marie O’Neill, Anne McAllister (McGlue), Mairead Donnolly Mairead McAtamney (Magill) (capt), Mairead Quinn (Diamond), Jackie McAtamney (McGuigan) Kathleen Kelly

RFB Moira Caldwell (Ballycran and Down)

Moira was small in stature but solid in defence.  She captained the victorious Down Junior team in 1968.  She played for Ulster seniors in 1967/68 and won a Gael Linn medal in 1967. She was a good reader of the game and fast off the mark which made her an excellent defender.

FB Moya Ford (Ahoghil and Antrim)

Moya played in this position for Antrim and Ulster for over 2 decades from 1950-1969 and played in 11 All-Ireland finals.  She was well-known for her long pucks but was equally effective on the ground. She won senior All Ireland medals in 1956 and 1967 and a senior Gael Linn with Ulster in 1967 and also won an Ulster club medal with Ahoghill.

LFB Patricia Crangle (Tullylish and Down)

Pat was a very strong fit player who could have played in many positions.  She won an All-Ireland junior medal with Down in 1968 and a senior Gael Linn medal with Ulster in 1967.  She was a very determined player and covered a large area of ground during a game.

RHB Mary McMullan/Connolly (Loughgiel and Antrim)

Mary came to the fore in the late 70’s.  She was an exceptional defender.  Fleet of foot and slick of stick, she took no prisoners.  She won a senior All-Ireland with Antrim in 1979 and played for many years after and won an All-Ireland Junior in 1997.

1963 final against Dublin. L-R, 1 Maeve Gilroy, Maeve Laverty, Mary Phillips Jamison, Marian Kearns McFetridge, Leontia Carabine, Betty Smyth, Mairead McAtamney Magill, Chris Hughes OBoyle, Margo Kane, Moya Forde, Theresa Kearns Cassidy, Sue Ward Cashman

CHB Sue Ward/Cashman (Deirdre and Antrim)

Sue was a very strong aggressive player.  She was a tireless player who had remarkable stick and ball control.  She captained Antrim in 1967 and won a Gael Linn with Ulster in the same year.  She won the Texaco award in 1967. A great leader she captained Deirdre to the first five Ulster club titles. Unfortunately for Antrim she retired after the 1967 final. 

LHB Jackie McAtamney/McGuigan (Portglenone and Antrim)

My niece Jackie was a player of outstanding ability who could control a game from the backline.  I played with her and coached her at club level for a number of years.  At the age of 16, she won three club championship on the same day at Glenariff with Portglenone (senior, junior and under 16). In the same year (1979) she won an All-Ireland senior medal with Antrim and an Octupus award.  Unfortunately, she emigrated to USA at the age of 20 and never realised her full potential.

Midfield : Siobhan McAtamney/Bradley (Portglenone/Antrim)

Jackie’s sister and another niece, Siobhan was a formidable and very stylish player who could compete with the best in midfield or forwards. She won several senior club championship medals with Portglenone and an All-Ireland senior with Antrim  in 1979. She could cut a ball over the bar as good as Joe Canning.

Midfield : Mairead McAtamney Magill (Portglenone/Antrim)

RHF Marian Kearns/McFetridge (St Malachy’s and Antrim)

Marian possessed a particularly quick turn of speed.  Her striking was fast and accurate.  A very stylish player she won All-Ireland medals with Antrim in 1956 and 1967 and represented Ulster for many years until she retired in 1967.

Mairead Quinn/Diamond (Creggan and Antrim)

Mairead was a stalwart for Creggan for many years winning two Ulster club medals.  A very versatile player having played in defence and in forwards she was strong and forceful and pulled the ball out of the sky on many occasions with her hand.  She played for Antrim and Ulster for a number of years and won 2 All Ireland senior medals in 1967 and 1979 and a Gael Linn with Ulster in 1967.

RHF Maeve Gilroy (St Malachy’s and Antrim)

Maeve was also a very versatile player and represented Antrim and Ulster for many years in a variety of positions.  Maeve was a player who encouraged everyone around her.  She won All-Ireland medals with Antrim in 1956 and 1967 and a Gael Linn with Ulster in 1967.  She was honoured with both a Cuchulainn and an Gaelic Games All-Star award.

RCF Sarah Anne Quinn/McNicholl (Swatragh and Derry)

I played against Sarah on many occasions in Ulster club matches.  She was a very athletic player who glided around the field with ease.  She was a good reader of the game and used the hand-pass to great effect bringing many other players into the game.  She won an All-Ireland junior medal with Derry in 1978 and an AIB award in that same year.  She played on the victorious junior Gael Linn teams in 1989 and 1991.

Goalkeeper Teresa Kearns was only 14 years old when she won her first All Ireland medal in 1956

FF Lily Scullion (Ahoghill and Antrim)

Lily always played in full forward and used her hand with telling effect.  She caught the sliotar, turned and hand-passed to the net in one movement.  She was very difficult to mark.  She won a senior Ulster club title with Ahoghill in 1969 and an All-Ireland senior medal with Antrim in 1967.  She also won a Gael Linn with Ulster in 1967. She became a nun in the mid-70s. 

LCF  Ursula Daly/Jordan (Eglish and Tyrone)

A very competitive player who never gave up.  She was a very fit and fast player and broke many a defender’s heart.  I played against Eglish on many occasions and Ursula was the player to look-out for.  She won many senior championship medals with her club in Tyrone and four Ulster club medals.  She could take her place on any team in Ulster.

Subs: All of these players have represented county and province in their playing careers but unfortunately, I could only select 15. I would love to have included these as well

Antrim players : Kathleen Kelly, Rita McAteer/Moran, Josephine McClements, Eileen Collins, Ann McAllister/McGlue and Philomena Gillespie

Down’s Veronica McGreevy and Stephanie Kelly

Armagh’s Angela Toal

Carol Blaney (McAllister) with O’Duffy Cup back in 1979

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