Unlike their male counterparts in recent times, Mayo Ladies have reached the top of the mountain. They were the last All-Ireland winners of the 20th Century, and the first winners of the 21st Century. They followed that brace of titles with another one in 2002 and 2003. They boast some all-time greats in their ranks, but who are the best 15 Mayo Ladies of this golden era?
We asked those that know best, Current Mayo and Collingwood Star Sarah Rowe, 3 time All-Star Denise Horan and the man who was behind all those title wins at the turn of the millennium, Finbar Egan.
“The best keeper I’ve ever seen is on this call with us” said Finbar of Denise Horan. The Tourmakeady net-minder was central to Mayo’s success and despite her modesty in saying she shouldn’t be on the team, she was over-ruled by Sarah and Finbar to take her place at number 1.
Honourable Mention: Amy Connolly.
Full Back Line:
The full back line was rich with All-Stars.Garrymore native and former Mayo Captain Sarah Tierney was the first name in the full back line, she was joined by The Neale’s Helena Lohan, the 3 time All-Star led from the defence and very few could deal with her power and strength. At number 4 was Tourmakeady defender Nuala O’Shea, her most memorable performance came in 1999 where she kept the great Aine Wall scoreless in the All-Ireland Final.
Honourable Mentions: Bernie O’Neill (Neale), Niamh Lally (Carnacon), Edel Reilly (Hollymount).
Half Back Line:
It proved difficult for our selectors to whittle it down to just 3 names in the half back line, one name they could all agree on was Marcella Heffernan, blessed with versatility, the Hollymount native excelled at half back. Anchoring the defence was her clubmate Yvonne Byrne, having also played in goals for Mayo, she was “at her best at centre back” according to Denise Horan. Completing the half back line was Claire O’Hara, the 2007 All-Star’s fitness and athleticism got her the nod ahead of the rest.
Honourable Mentions: Sharon McGing (Carnacon), Kathryn Sullivan (Castlebar Mitchels), Orla Casby (Hollymount).
Our selectors opted to choose 2 midfielders that would compliment each others talents, the tenacity of Claire Egan was essential to Mayo’s success, the Carnacon footballer picked up an impressive haul of 3 All-Stars also. She was partnered by the athletic Aileen Gilroy. The Killala native picked up an All-Star in 2017 before securing a move to the AFLW last year to play with Melbourne.
Honourable Mentions: Sinead Cafferky (Kilmovee Shamrocks), Edel Biggins (Shrule/ Glencorrib), Rita Kearney (Clonbur, Galway)
Half Forward Line:
Fiona McHale was selected at right half forward, the Carnacon footballer again could have featured in several positions such was her versatility, but was most prominent at wing forward. On the 40 was Christina Heffernan, the Hollymount playmaker has a collection of 6 All-Stars over the course of her illustrious career. Moy Davitts’ flyer Niamh Kelly was chosen on the left wing, the ex- Mayo captains ability earned her a ticket to the AFLW to play with the West Coast Eagles.
Honourable Mentions: Michelle McGing (Carnacon), Sinead Costello, Ciara McDermott (Moy Davitts).
Full Forward Line:
At number 13 was Diane O’Hora, another who could have featured anywhere on the field, the Ballina footballer was at her most dangerous on the inside. Unsurprisingly, 11 time All-Star Cora Staunton was selected at full-forward. The Carnacon star is arguably the greatest Ladies footballer of all time. Completing our team was somebody who was also present on the call, no not Finbar Egan, but Kilmoremoy’s Sarah Rowe. One of the best in the country of the current generation, she is another to be poached by AFLW club Collingwood such is her ability, and was named their ‘Best First Year Player’ in her rookie season.
Honourable Mentions: Sabrina Bailey (Shrule/Glencorrib), Rachel Kearns (Deel Rovers), Grace Kelly (Moy Davitts).
The Team In Full:
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