“I just loved testing myself against others”

FORMER Tyrone and Carrickmore ace looks back at some of the memorable games playing and watching football down the years…

Name: Eilish Gormley

Teams played for: An Charraig Mhór, Tyrone, Ulster, St. Mary’s, UUJ, Combined Ulster Colleges, Combined Irish Colleges, Roscommon Ladies in Boston, Connacht Ladies in Boston, Armagh Ladies Rugby.

Current involvement:

I help out with u-14 girls in the club.

Which club game, that you played in, will you never forget and why?

The 1992 Ulster Club final stands out as it was the first ever Ulster Club final. The team and management were just brilliant – a real joyous and skilful bunch. We were so lucky to have Jarlath Kerr, RIP, as one of our managers. Jarlath had been in hospital very poorly and signed himself out for that game.

I will never forget the scenes in the dressing room when he burst through the door. Even better, we were lucky to win by one point, having been nine points down with ten minutes to go. Two Teresa Kelly specials and an Edel Loughran goal brought us level, and I scored a free at the death to nip the win. I was only 14 at the time and didn’t have the wit to realise the enormity of the whole occasion. Great times.

Which club game, that you watched, will you never forget and why?

I generally have a good memory of matches so there’s plenty I don’t forget. I remember the u-14 girls Grade Two final of 2009 v Glenelly, u-16 girls Grade Two final of 2011 v Errigal and the u-18 Grade One final of 2013 v Sperrin Óg.

That same team developed so much and played so many epic games – I was one of their managers and they were just a great bunch of girls.

The 2014 treble winning u-14 team were also unbelievable. So skilful and committed.

Some of the football they played was just a joy to behold. I’d also list any of our men’s championship wins, particularly the 1992 u-21 final and the 1995 senior v Moortown. The tension was unbelievable in those battles.

Which county game, that you played in, will you never forget and why?

Probably the 2000 All-Ireland senior semi-final v Mayo in Croke Park. The game was played before the Armagh v Kerry men’s semi final replay.

Just to be at that the stage of the senior competition with my two club friends Lynette and Connie lined out with me alongsde a serious bunch of team mates and friends. Then add in the unbelievable crowd that watched our game – there had to be 70,000 people in the closing 20 minutes anyway. Unreal.

Which county game, that you watched, will you never forget and why?

I’d probably go for the 1986 All-Ireland senior final Tyrone v Kerry. Purely as I got taken to the match by my parents and was lifted over the turn style.

It wasn’t my first game in Croke Park but to be there on All Ireland final day with Tyrone playing as a child was really special.

What was the funniest thing you ever saw in a game?

I’m going to go for the first year I took our Gaelic for Mothers & Others team to the national blitz in Dublin. Everything about that group of women was just inspiring.

They were the best fun. One of our Nuala’s (there were three of them) hit the most unbelievable goal except it was an own goal! Likewise, I remember our own Keeva Diggin scoring a cracker of a goal against us in the first minute of the first game of the Tyrone u-14 Féile finals in 2014. With seven and a half- minute halves, it wasn’t funny at the time! But we clawed back to win that game and ended up winning the Féile.

What was the strangest thing you ever saw in a game?

It didn’t feel strange at the time, but certainly looking back now, my team mates smoking away at training or at half time was definitely strange. I mind one game, where the midgies were so bad, our goalie and the umpire smoked away during the match. Things are very different now!

What was the most memorable performance from a player in a game that you watched?

I’d probably go for Sorcha Gormley and Aine Grimes performances in the 2019 u-14 Féile final in Tyrone. The two girls just refused to lose that day. Their skill, workrate and intelligence were just a class apart. Two of many great young players coming through our club.

What was the most memorable performance from a player in a game that you played?

I’d go for Gemma Begley’s performance in the 2007 All-Ireland quarter final v Armagh. Gemma scored 3-6 that day. Just everything the team had planned came off to a tee! Gemma was on fire.

I also remember in one Ulster Club campaign, I had dreamt that Connie Fox scored four points.

Connie usually never ventured too far up the field so when I told the girls of this in the changing room pre match, they all had a giggle.

Connie went on to have a unbelievable performance and scored three deadly points. It was some premonition! It’s very hard to isolate moments as so many of the teams I was part off were all about the collective.

What did you love about the games you played in?

I just loved testing myself against others. Could I beat my opponent in training? Could I win the battle in matches. I especially loved getting to play Colleges football and playing with girls I’d have normally been against.

I loved the training and the craic. I loved passing the ball. Finding that defence splitting pass (they didn’t always work mind!!) and I really liked trying out things too, like lobs, dummies etc and I always got great enjoyment if they worked.

What did you hate about the games you played in?

I can’t think of anything I hated. Of course, I got frustrated like most players do when decisions go against you, or you feel you didn’t get the free you should have gotten.

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