Marion McStay: Face of Armagh camogie led and inspired from the front
GRADAM Síghle Nic an Ultaigh is awarded annually by camogie at national level to acknowledge distinguished administrators of the association.
Armagh’s Marion McStay was a popular recipient in 2016. Several years prior to that, Mary McAleese also presented her with a President’s Award for services to sport.
Few have been more worthy recipients of either reward than the Lurgan native who has been the face of Armagh camogie for many years, meeting and greeting teams and supporters to venues all over the county and representing Armagh at national level.
Marion McCrory was introduced to the game by her aunt Cissie McCluskey, who had played for St Enda’s Derrymacash, one of the first clubs in the Lurgan area.
Marion and her sister Pauline joined the Clan na Gael club in the town and played with the St Michael’s school team that brought Corn Uan Uladh to the county for the first time.
Within a short time she was representing her county and province with distinction.
Marion then met and married Andy McStay and the couple were blessed with six children, four daughters and two sons.
Their births may have interrupted her playing career, but Marion quickly turned her hand to administration, initially with her club and then with her county.
She served as Armagh chairperson from 1989–92 and then continued as Armagh’s Ulster delegate from 1993-99, the county’s most successful decade on the fields of Ireland.
For the past two decades Marion has been Armagh Board president and she always carried out these roles with great pride and total commitment, leading and inspiring from the front, her enthusiasm never less than infectious.
A new player on any of the Armagh panels was always at ease after being met by the Lurgan woman who could mix easily with people of all ages, from nine to 90.
She was a formidable presence at meetings, whether club, county, province or at camogie’s annual convention where she made sure glór na nGael ó thuaidh was heard loud and clear.
For expressing those forthright points of view, the Lurgan native was respected the length and breadth of the island it was little surprise that Marion picked up those precious national awards for her commitment to camogie.
Despite her recent illness she insisted on attending the Armagh county finals in the Athletic Grounds in September.
That was the kind of person, player and administrator she was, committed and determined to play right up until the final whistle.
That final whistle was blown on October 22 and, despite the restrictions placed on her funeral by Covid, thousands turned out along the route to acknowledge the passing of a legend in the Armagh community.
She has joined her beloved Andy and daughter Róisín in a higher Field of Dreams.
To her daughters Mary, Úna and Sinéad, sons Dermot and Andy and her grandchildren, we offer our condolences.
Ní bheidh a leithéid arís again.