Mary Black: My Ulster Camogie Best 15
Armagh have won just three Ulster senior camogie titles (1992-4).
Mary Black captained two of those and starred in the other in 1993 when the Orchard county went on to win the All-Ireland Junior championship in a replay against Galway.
In 1994 she captained Armagh to the All-Ireland Intermediate crown, the first Ulster county to take the title with a 7-11 to 3-11 win over Kildare.
They completed the double that year by winning the national Junior league, Black’s third league medal.
Moved to senior grade, Armagh became the first, and so far only, Ulster county to contest the National Senior league final where they lost to Cork in 1995.
That strong Armagh squad grew out of under-age success during the 1980s and indeed two Armagh schools, St Catherine’s with Mary Black at midfield and St Patrick’s Keady, contested Corn Uan Uladh final for the only time in 1989.
At Queen’s a couple of years later Mary was a star midfielder in the team that took the Ashbourne Cup north for the first time after 75 years of domination by the southern big three of UCD, UCC and UCG with two years of a hiatus when Maynooth captured back to back titles.
A regular on Ulster teams right up until 2003, Mary collected three inter-provincial medals and also captained her province on three occasions.
She began her club career with Tullysaran, but most of her adult camogie was with Derrynoose who reached just two county senior finals during that period.
“We tried hard during my playing career, but Derrynoose didn’t figure too prominently on the Armagh club scene which was dominated by Ballymacnab, Keady and An Port Mór,'' she said.
“My focus was on the inter-county scene and, with Tom Monaghan as manager, we made huge progress during the mid 1990s. Tom was an excellent coach but we also had a very talented group of players who gave a lot to the county team.
“Some of them had been around for a long time, but there was a group who won Ulster underage medals with me in the late 1980s and who pushed on with clear progress at schools’ and university level and brought Armagh success that they never had before nor has the county managed to repeat it.
“There was a good standard of camogie in Ulster at that time as well and Down, Antrim and Derry as well as Armagh all won All-Ireland titles during my career and you had strong club teams as well.
“That competition was good for everyone but it means that there are a lot of excellent players that don’t make my best 15.
“I have had to draw a line somewhere and the following are the girls that I would love to be playing alongside once more.”
Maggie McKee (Derrynoose and Armagh)
I played club, county and provincial camogie with Maggie.
She was a brilliant shot stopper and wasn’t afraid to put her hand up to catch the ball.
She had a great puck out and as her club mate we had a great understanding; Maggie could always find me with her puck out. Maggie was also very vocal and organised her defence superbly.
Donna Greeran (Liatroim and Down)
I played on many Ulster sides with Donna. Not much got past Donna.
A very tight marker, she was one of the main players for Down and her club Liatroim.
She was an excellent team player, always encouraging and kept the players in front of her right.
Margaret Moriarty (St Edna’s Derrymacash and Armagh)
When I was under-age, Maggie Mo was someone I aspired to be.
She was a natural camogie player, had fantastic skill level and was very determined. I was of course delighted to play alongside her in the All-Ireland winning teams.
She was so calm in defence, never seemed to be under pressure and could deliver long clearances on both sides. A fantastic role model for all players both on and off the field.
Maureen Barry (Rossa and Antrim)
Maureen was a terrific defender, a great reader of the game.
Not many defenders were as comfortable in possession as she was. She didn’t rush her clearances and was able to set up attacks from defence.
Edel Mason (Portaferry and Down)
Edel was a strong, powerful defender and was able to score from defence.
She was a brilliant long-range free taker, usually chipping in with three or four scores every game. A brilliant player to have playing alongside you for Ulster.
Nuala McCartan (Liatroim and Down)
I played against Nuala on numerous occasions when Armagh and Down met during the early 1990s, and she was never easy to get past.
She commanded Down’s defence superbly and always brought her A game to the pitch.
Nuala was a major influence for her club Liatroim and contributed immensely to Ulster’s successes at provincial level.
Mary Rose McGready (Eglish and Tyrone)
Mary Rose was a very stylish player. I played against her often at club level when Eglish joined the Armagh Senior League.
Mary Rose was an excellent reader of the game; she always seemed to have a lot of time on the ball, was brilliant at defending as well as setting up attacks.
Mary Black (Tullysaran/Derrynoose and Armagh)
Olive Leonard (St Brenda’s Ballymancnab and Armagh)
I played in midfield at county level alongside Olive and at club level against her.
She was a natural athlete with great speed and determination.
She covered every blade of grass on the pitch, a complete workhorse, never seemed to have a poor game. A brilliant team-mate.
Grace McMullan (Loughgiel and Antirm)
I first encountered Grace when she played for UUJ and I was playing for Queen’s in the Ashbourne Cup.
She was hugely instrumental in UUJ’s successes at Ashbourne level.
A very skilful player, she could win her own ball, take her opponent on and take her score. She was everything you need in a half forward. It was very rare that Grace was held scoreless.
Máirín McAleenan (Liatroim and Down)
My first memory of Máirín was when we played in the Ulster under 16 final.
She played that game and then came on in the senior match afterwards.
Máirín was the complete player – naturally talented and determined, a superb free taker, she could take her point from anywhere and she also knew where the goals were! An excellent role model for younger players.
Bernie McBride (Derrynoose and Armagh)
Bernie started her inter-county career as a half forward and ended it as a half back – and she was equally superb in either position. As a half forward, no one could catch her – ‘speedy Bernie’, generally always contributed a number of points per game which were vital on Armagh’s road to success in 93 and 94.
Brenda Burke (Eglish and Tyrone)
Brenda was the youngest of the three Burke sisters that all played for Eglish and Tyrone. She was a superb fielder of the ball and very accurate from play and was very influential in Eglish’s success at club level where they won a number of Ulster titles and reached an All-Ireland club final.
Mary Donnelly (St Brenda’s Ballymacnab and Armagh)
In the early part of my inter-county career I played in the forward line with ‘wee D’. I loved it when she got the sliotar as the first thing on Mary’s mind was GOAL - and she scored plenty of them. A nightmare for any defender, she could win the ball low or high, turn her marker and score.
Jane Adams (Rossa and Antrim)
I only played with Jane for Ulster on a few occasions towards the end of my inter-county career. She was an outstanding player with enormous skill, who had the ability to win matches on her own. She could score from anywhere but also had tremendous vision to bring her teammates into play. A superb talent.
16 and 17 : Colette Byrne (Mullaghbawn and Armagh) and Leona Fay (Eglish and Tyrone) – both Colette and Leona were very versatile players, and could play defence, midfield or attack and still have a good game.
18. Claire Doherty (Slaughtneil and Derry)
19. Katie McAuley (Castledawson and Derry)
20. Brona McCorry (Deirdre, QUB and Antrim)
21. Deirdre Savage (Portaferry and Down)