‘Every Day is a School Day’ for Maura McMenamin (St. Macartan’s)
Maura McMenamin (nee Kelly) is undoubtedly one of the most decorated and well know ladies footballers to have emerged form the O’Neill County.
A player who has collected five senior club championships with St. Macartan’s in addition to four Ulster senior championship medals with Tyrone plus to a wealth of other personal awards, including All-Star and Tyrone player of the year accolades, Maura continues to excel at the highest level in her chosen sport. Maura married another Tyrone footballing legend, Ryan McMenamin, in 2013.
In addition to her playing background, Maura is also well known for her immense contribution to community development through her role as an Officer with Ulster GAA and what many people may not know is that she is a ‘dab hand’ at surfing too!
Tyrone Life caught up this week with Maura ahead of this Sunday’s County Senior Club Championship Final meeting with Carrickmore (Sunday 7th September, Killyclogher, 5.15m) to get her thoughts in our latest ‘People Focus’ feature…
Your football achievements…
When did you start playing football:
Playing with my primary school, St Patricks Eskra, I played underage with Eskra Emmett’s and then started playing with St Macartan Ladies when they had an underage set-up from 1994 onwards.
Ladies Football honours:
5 County Senior Championships, 2 County Minor Championships, 7 County Senior Leagues, 1 Minor County League
1 Junior All-Ireland, I Division 2 National League, 4 Ulster Senior Championships
2 U-19 Grade A Ulster Schools
1 O’Connor Cup, 1 All-Ireland Colleges, 3 Dowd Cups
Interests & Hobbies:
I love a bit of surfing, and generally just socialising when football allows
GAA – My thoughts on…
…GAA memories with your club or county that really stand out?
My memories are probably similar to most people’s… as children kicking about behind the goals at Club games; knowing where somewhere was because you knew their pitch; knowing Mum was a bit peeved-off when Sunday dinners were non-existent because Eskra were playing.
In terms of GAA playing with St Macartans has had the greatest impact on my life. Playing alongside my four sisters, and closest friends has provided so many memories, and allowed us to have experiences you just wouldn’t get if not playing sport, and I’d go as far to say GAA.
I’m fortunate enough to work for Ulster GAA in community and club development so I see everyday, the very positive impact the GAA has on communities and the investment of good that people put into their Clubs. Without getting into my work lingo, it is a credit to GAA clubs how much they contribute to community life.
…the St. Macartan’s ladies team and your playing colleagues:
Where to start… I’ll keep it clean! Basically St Macartans has been around since 1993, and thankfully has been going from strength-to-strength in this time, and the same can be said for the one current player who was there in 1993!
We’re very grateful to the Augher, Eskra and Clogher clubs for their support, and enjoy a very close relationship with them. We’re a very hands-on Club in that the senior players are very actively involved in the running of the Club through the Committee, coaching, fundraising and so on. We’ve enjoyed many successes over the years, and have a very strong sense of allegiance to St Macartans’ members past and present.
The current senior panel is made-up of a good mixture of experience and youth; older girls who have plenty of County Final experience and girls from the Minor panel who have won the County Championship earlier this year.
…looking ahead to the county final?
It is something to look forward to. Both teams are very familiar with each other, and it should be a closely contested game.
…how Tyrone stand at inter-county level and what needs to be done to win an elusive first All Ireland title?
Although there haven’t been many great headlines in the past few years, Tyrone remain a legitimate Division 1 team and I think it’s very important that Tyrone remain there.
This year’s management have brought in quite a few younger players which is great to see. There is a real step-up from county underage to the senior level, and it takes a lot of getting used to, a lot of players don’t make it, but it was heartening to see a few new girls putting in the effort to make an impact this year.
On the other hand Tyrone have some of their best players coming into their late 20s. They’ve plenty to give, and are still the “go-to” girls, but it’ll take a serious, no-BS attitude by the entire panel to get Tyrone back in contention.
There probably aren’t as many stand-out teams in the Championship at the minute: inevitably Cork’s age-profile has started to work against them; Monaghan have had a poor year and are probably a bit dishevelled from not having won an All-Ireland in the past 3-4 years of serious effort; Dublin are an emerging team and possibly the team to watch moving forward; while Kerry are possibly in the same boat as Monaghan. Galway are an excellent side but haven’t been consistent enough in the past few years and Armagh have got themselves well organised to be in an All-Ireland semi-final this year.
Tyrone are probably within the top eight teams, with very little in it on any given day; but I’d imagine it’ll take a sustained committed effort over a couple of years to bring an All-Ireland to fruition.
Life – My thoughts on…
…favourite memories of growing up?
Probably playing about on the lawn with the family and friends. Still have plenty of growing-up to do!
…your role with Ulster GAA?
I work within club and community development which basically involves me rolling-out programmes and initiatives which promote a more practical and efficient way of conducting club business. I deal a lot with club volunteers so I get a good feel for the many issues facing clubs.
In terms of community development, my role is to support clubs in thinking about how they can best outreach to other groups, promoting their Club and the GAA to the wider community.
…what places you have travelled to – and best memories?
Through my own football, that of the better-half, and through work with Ulster GAA I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled to many parts… and Ladies National League venues have probably been the most obscure!
In 2001 myself and partner-in-crime Lynda Donnelly played football for a summer in New York for Mayo ladies… Lynda has been hung-up on Mayo ever since! It was a great experience, and one that opened my eyes to the far-flung impact of the GAA. I was lucky enough to travel to Dubai on an All-Star trip in 2008, which isn’t something I’d have ever expected.
The Tyrone Men’s unbelievable noughties and Ryan’s involvement meant that I tagged along to places such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Florida, and Kuala Lumpar – simply an unreal time.
Through work with Ulster GAA, I’ve travelled to Edmonton, Canada, and Boston. Boston again yes please; Edmonton, no thanks!… flights were a nightmare!
All-in-all the lasting impression is of the tangible positive impact the GAA is having on communities all across the globe; many of them through Irish ex-pats, short-term migrants, or through people with no Irish heritage at all, but who simply love the Games and the sense of belonging that a GAA club brings.
…the influential figures in your life:
My parents, brother and sisters have probably had the most influence on me, although I’m sure there were times when Mum wished she could’ve had more of an influence on me! Growing-up in a full house was sometimes a pain but it meant there was always someone to kick-about with, and plenty to keep us occupied.
I’ll blame Dad for my lack of soloing ability, as he wasn’t in the way of promoting “glory-hunters” but overall I’d say he was the main culprit for us all being very into the GAA; Mum put-up a good fight for years but eventually she gave-in!
My closest friends within St Macartans circles have also been huge influences on me, both in terms of football and in all other areas of my life too.
Sounds cheesy but the St Macartans Crew!
Bronagh Holland was that little bit special!
I love Bon Jovi – cheesy again.
Also Garth Brooks was played on loop in our house growing-up. I do like the old country tunes!
Sweet Sixteen – The Fureys
I don’t religiously watch much telly, but I loved Love/Hate.
Come Dine With Me isn’t bad!
Chanel Chance – Eau Fraiche
Item of clothing:
I got a pair of gloves on sale in Liverpool and they were the best buy ever!…so cosy!
Place (apart from home):
Rossnowlagh – great waves
Bridge Tavern, Eskra
The Pleasure Dome AKA The Boe Inn
Achica online – showing my age
Facebook or Twitter? Why?
Facebook for photos
I haven’t got onto Twitter
Best thing on the internet?
Google maps… as Ricey knows!
Would have to be one of Catriona McGahan’s but they can’t be shared here!