Official Website of the Camogie Association


By Niamh Archibald


Grainne McGoldrick picked up the first ever Irish News Camogie Merit Award at their annual GAA All-Star Awards on Thursday.


McGoldrick who will captain her club team Eoghan Rua, Coleraine in their first ever appearance at the Killmacud Seven’s this weekend was delighted to recieve the award saying: “”It is a great honour to receive this award, with the season ending on a disappointing note it is nice to receive some recognition. It is really nice to see female athletes getting recognition, with the ladies footballers picking up an award for the first time as well, as we train equally as hard and put in the same level of dedication. It was a privilege to be at the award ceremony and to be in the presence of so many successful athletes.””


The eldest member of one of Ulster‘s most prestigious GAA families, Grainne has very much lead the way both on and off the pitch. Currently, her brothers Barry and Sean Leo are key figures in the Derry Football squad, while another brother Colm is also making his mark at underage level. Barry and Sean Leo, along another with brother Ciaran, have all represented Derry Hurlers and Footballers at some level. As well as this, her younger sister Meabh plays alongside Grainne in the current Derry senior camogie team.


Grainne acknowledges the influence of her family stating that it was her mother and father who played a vital role in her development as a player: “”When I was 11 years old my dad took me to hurling training with him down at Domincan College hockey pitches. There were a few other girls that came and we all played along side the boys until we reached Under-14, then the club set up a camogie team in 1995-1996 and things just went from there. My mum and dad definitely played a huge role in not only in my development but also the development of a lot of players within the Eoghan Rua club.””


Since then Grainne has gone on to become one of Ulster’s finest players operating either in midfield or in the half-forward line she has the ability to strike fear into opposition defenses. She has been a key figure in all the teams she has played for helping Jordanstown to two Purcell Cups, picking up a university combined in process and staring for Derry in the Ulster Championship, as well as on the biggest stage of all – at Croke Park in 2006 earning her second All-Star nomination. In 2007 she once again proved to be Derry‘s shining light picking up her third All-Star nomination. 


Yet for all her achievements and accolades Grainne remains an unassuming and quiet character leading by example through her skill and work rate on the field. It is not surprising that she is often singled out for special treatment from opposing teams but she simply puts her head down determined to guide her team to victory.


She is one of the finest players in Ireland at the minute yet she remains humble through it all declaring that “”being nominated for an All-Star is a tremendous privilege and to be picked out three times alongside some of camogie’s biggest names is a huge honour. It is nice to be recognised on a personal level.”” 


Speaking about special moments Grainne states that “”there is something about winning alongside your team that’s special.””  She was an instrumental figure in historic victories for Derry and her home club, Eoghan Rua Coleraine. 


“”I remember winning my first club championship in 2005; we came from 11 points down to win by one and the feeling I had after that game was something else. It definitely makes it one of the proudest moments in my camogie career.  Obviously winning the All-Ireland with Derry is up there as well because we had to work so hard for it and when Ashling Diamond scored that goal in the fifth minute of injury timeàit was unreal,”” she said.


Despite losing out to Cork in the All-Ireland Intermediate Semi-Final Grainne firmly believes that Derry have what it takes to go all the way next year and move up to Senior level: “”We’ve been knocking on the door for the past two years, last year we didn’t play well and this year honestly I’ve never seen a team that deserved to win a game more, in the end I think we beat ourselves. Although we lost on Saturday the girls are coming away with confidence because we know that we’re not that far away and we’ll be in with a big shout next year. There is a lot of underage talent in Derry it’s just a matter of getting the players who should be playing for the county to come out.  It’s back to the drawing board but we’ll be back determined to reach the All-Ireland Intermediate Final and move up to Senior level.””


With the County season drawing to a close Grainne’s focus has switched. 


“”Club is my priority now, we have a chance of winning some silverware with both the Derry and Ulster Leagues up for grabs. We’ve also entered the Kilmacud 7s so it would be nice to come away with something from that, having won the Dubai Seven’s.””


A fantastically classy player who is blessed with speed, skill and an ability to both take her scores and create them for others, she urges young players to get out with a hurl in their hand everyday and practice striking.


“”Striking is a major skill in camogie but it is often underestimated, people think if they get fit and work at lifting the ball they’ll get better and while that helps for me it’s those who can strike a ball really well that stand out,”” said Grainne.


Mc Goldrick is a name which stands out in Derry and beyond, certainly Grainne could take her place in any team in Ireland.  With her attitude and determination it is easy to understand why.



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