Magic Magill reflects on unlikely double with the Saffrons
“IT HAS been a hectic few weeks but the past seven days have been the best of my life. I never set out at the start of the year thinking I would win two All-Ireland titles with Antrim and one of them in Croke Park. Better than all the dreams.”
On Sunday, Áine Magill completed an All-Ireland double that wasn’t on the cards even at the start of July. Back in June she had just joined the Antrim minor team and was looking to see how far they would go over the summer.
Then early in July she was called into the Antrim senior squad as they prepared for the Ulster championship.
“To be honest I didn’t know what to expect with the seniors. I knew they were expected to do well and maybe get back into the final in Croke Park, but I didn’t think that I would figure too much in the overall plans,” says the teenager who starts a nursing degree in Magee College this week.
“They put me on for the last 10 minutes of the Ulster final against Down and then I started against Kilkenny in the first group game [of the All-Ireland intermediate championship] probably because we were missing three or four players because of Covid. It was still far more than I expected.”
The Dunloy youngster impressed with two points in each half and retained the No 10 jersey for the rest of the campaign, scoring in every game including the final in Croke Park.
Meanwhile she picked up Player of the Match in the Ulster minor final in July with a tally of 1-7 from midfield and the Saffron teenagers also went on to reach the All-Ireland minor B final.
A fortnight ago they stumbled to a 2-7 to 0-13 draw with Offaly.
“I think that we were lucky enough to get the draw. We felt that we hadn’t played well in the first game and that we needed to open up more space in the forward line. We tried to leave space in front of Cassie (McArthur) and get her on to the ball in the open where she could run at them.
“It worked well on Sunday and we created a lot of chances during the game.”
Although Antrim scored three goals in Sunday's replay win over the Faithful county, they could have doubled that in a match that became very open with McArthur, a cousin of Magill, top-scoring with 1-4. Magill herself was involved in a couple of the goals as well adding four points.
“I think Antrim taking the goal opportunities at the start put pressure on Offaly and they had to come at us. I enjoyed the game. You had to work hard, but the first game was a lot more frustrating because there was so little space,” she said.
Magill was joined in the team by her sisters, twins Bríd and Brónach, and it was Bríd who emerged as Player of the Match with an exhilarating performance from full-back.
Orlagh Laverty scored the second Antrim goal just before the interval and she was bringing a third All-Ireland medal to her house following older sisters Christine and Ciara with the seniors in Croke Park the previous week, while minor captain Fionnuala Kelly also followed older sister Maeve to national honours at the end of a brilliant week for Antrim camogie.
This Antrim team is also one of the youngest to take the All-Ireland minor crown with no fewer than 11 of the starting 15 underage once again next season.
The four in their last minor campaign are Orla Laverty, Fionnuala Kelly, Áine Magill and goalie Orla Donnelly who pulled off some incredible saves in both the drawn final and Sunday’s replay.
The rest, including two sets of twins, the Magills and McIntoshs, and quite a few of the substitute bench will be back again next year when the county is expected to declare for the A grade after three titles at B level over the past five seasons.
With such talent coming through the underage ranks, Antrim’s move to the senior championship next season opens up huge possibilities for the county over the next few seasons.