My Dream Team
By Paula Powell
DENISE HAGAN (now Jordan) (Clan Eireann) – Denise is my No 1 between the posts. She was so vocal throughout both her club and county days as goalkeeper. She kept the defence in check at all times and I never met a keeper in Armagh who had as great a hoof of the ball as she did.
Denise had great hands and was very confident under the bar; she was great at placing the ball. We go way back to the nineties in our early playing days and the friendship is still as strong today.
SINEAD REEL (Killeavy) – What can I say about Sinead that you don’t already know? A solid defender, indeed some would say a very vocal defender, though mind you she ended her playing days in the nose-bleed section of the forward line.
Myself and Sinead would be the dying breed of the nineties. We started our playing days around the same time in 1993 and have had a long playing career together with plenty of ups and downs both on and off the pitch but we didn’t take anything personally.
Sinead was the Armagh team’s Calamity Jane back in the day, always the entertainer. The craic would have been ninety on all those bus trips to county games with the sing-songs, supplemented by carry-outs! Her commitment to club and county was second to none and that is reflected 25 years later by the fact she’s the leading lady for Armagh LGFA today.
CAOIMHE MARLEY (now Morgan) (Lissummon) – the one and only Captain Fantastic, Caoimhe is one of the top defenders of the game. She is very consistent and reliable and a really solid defender who has an All Star to her name, but has also proven herself to be more than comfortable when the opportunity to break forward presents itself.
Caoimhe is the voice of reason behind you. Mind you, she is the last person you want on a sideline when she’s out injured for she is practically on the pitch directing players and there is no hiding on the pitch with Caoimhe.
She is great at motivating and keeping everyone on their toes. Caoimhe is a true inspiration for all players young and old both on and off the pitch and another close friend of mine over the years.
ELAINE MALLON (now Duffy) (Killeavy) – the quiet one in her day, Elaine was a tenacious and consistent back and anyone who didn’t know her underestimated her on the pitch. She was a good tight defender whose quick step won her a lot of dirty ball and she loved to be in the thick of things.
Elaine was best known as a ball-stopper; this player could block a ball and no challenge was too big for Elaine. A great player and a great team player. Whilst quiet in nature, she always spoke wisely, with an experienced head. Quality defender in her day!
DERVLA TOAL (now Mallon) (Grange) – my long-term bestie and twice All Star nominee is up next. We have encountered some battles and tussles over the years, neck and neck in the middle of the park and still to this day Harps and Grange have a healthy rivalry on the pitch.
However, experience allows us to keep our friendship separate. On the pitch, the minute the referee blows that whistle it’s game heads on but regardless of the result there is always a smile and a handshake after every game.
Dervla is a shining example of what ladies football represents. A very modest player, both on and off the pitch, she has an experienced head on her shoulders and oozes with experience and talent to share with her team mates.
A player with strength and determination who can drive out of her own defence and start an attack and rip through opposing defences and finish with a score. A dream to watch on the pitch.
BRONAGH O’DONNELL (Crossmaglen) – a formidable defender and All Star footballer who retired way before her time. An exceptional player who kept the back line in check at all times, Bronagh was always softly spoken and never seemed under pressure.
A very calming player, which is great when the defence is under pressure, because she always reassured you that we have got this. Another player like Dervla who knew how to read a game and drive out of defence to start attacks, Bronagh was always there to support midfield.
LOUISE QUINN (now Fearon) (Mullaghbawn) – Louise held her own in the half back line, a humble player who could read any game. A strong defender and a great supportive player for the rest of her team when creating an attack from defence. She was always committed to winning the ball with great pace, a committed player who always led by example.
ALMA O’DONNELL (Crossmaglen) – Alma was a great player who covered every blade of grass on the pitch during a game, on and off the ball. She had an engine that never stopped and was always off the shoulder if you needed her.
Great fielder of the ball in the middle of the park and combined a tireless work ethic with defensive awareness and an eye for a score. A fantastic captain and leader who could motivate a team even when things weren’t going our way.
CAROLINE O’HANLON (Carrickcruppen) – Caroline is a professional and an athlete who gets the job done. She is an extremely versatile player that is equally comfortable in defence and attack with an ever-purring engine and is a great ball carrier.
Caroline has a big influence on both her club and county team and her presence is always evident on the pitch. An excellent fielder of the ball and a professional when it comes to the dummy. Three-time All Star.
MAEVE MORIARTY (Clann Eireann) – Maeve to me was just a lady by all accounts and a leader on and off the pitch. A great team-mate and a friend to anyone that came into her company.
She treated everyone the same whether you wore the number 1 jersey or number 32, with the utmost of respect, and had a genuine interest in everyone she played with and was a very humble player herself.
Maeve was like the Road Runner cartoon character, she was off the blocks on the attack like a March Hare. Very strong, fast and skilful, Maeve can play well in any line, she isn’t afraid to get stuck in on a tackle and is great at putting herself behind a ball to block. An all-rounder and excellent player.
SHAUNA O’HAGAN (now McGuinness) (Clann Eireann) – what can I say, the life and soul of the party; she is the only one that can wear that hat! Shauna really was something else.
She had a skill level that enabled her to beat any defender that she came across and unmarkable. The direct line to the goals was her trademark and Shauna could pick a ball out of the sky; a great fielder of the ball.
Shauna is an absolute speed demon attacking who could pop up anywhere to inflict all sorts of damage to the opposition. A loveable player both on and off the pitch but a defender’s worst nightmare.
ORLA MURTAGH (now Connolly) (Lissummon) – Orla has been around from the early 1990s with Lissummon, we have played with and against each other for so many years and she’s also part of the dying breed of the nineties girls.
She is an all-round player, adaptable to any position, great at reading the game and creating ideal positioning to support team mates. You never get an inch off Orla, she is jersey-tight at all times, a great man-marker and has a non-stop work-rate, from tracking back and tackling to great score-taking.
SHARON DUNCAN (now Devlin) (Crossmaglen) – Sharon was a human wrecking ball in front of the posts, possessing great feet and being great at making space and good runs. One of the most dynamic forwards and, on her day, unstoppable.
She was a constant presence in the forward line and knew when to make her runs. A very unselfish player who always put the team before glory, Sharon was hugely skilful and a relentless scorer from play.
PATRICIA McAVOY (Crossmaglen) – Patricia was a powerhouse on the edge of the box and there was no one stopping this player in front of the sticks. Patricia just ran and ran at the defence and used her strength to her advantage. No mercy was shown as the target was the back of the net regardless of who got in her way.
A player who had a wealth of experience and knowledge. Was the friendliest of players in the Armagh team and was like a mother to us all on and off the pitch. A lady is all I can describe Patricia as and a true leader in the forward line.
MAGS McALINDEN (now Carville) (Clann Eireann) – Mags was small in stature but had electrifying pace, brilliant skills, was good on the placed balls and a great finisher.
It was rare you’d see Mags be outdone by her marker in a one on one battle and she was incredible at choosing her moments to go forward and get her name on the scoreboard. Mags’ quick feet allowed her to zip in and out and rip through defences. She made it look easy.