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Ardboe Defender Maggie Hagan Takes Loughtec Q And A

Friday 23.04.2021
Team Talk Mag

1.Who or what first got you into the GAA?

I first got into playing GAA playing underage with the boys team in Moortown. I’m from Moortown and I went to the Tyrone summer camp there when I was about 8 and loved it so I started playing with the boys as there was no girls team in Moortown at that time. My best friend Mairead and I played with the boys team until under 12’s. Then we moved to Ardboe for Under 14’s. My mummy sent me to Irish dancing around the age of 8 too and I was desperate at it so I knew football suited me better.

2: Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

I think all my youth managers played a big part in harnessing my love for GAA. Secondary school was when I really discovered a true love and passion for playing both ladies football and Camogie, I had great teachers and coaches in St. Pius X College who believed in me so that really helped. In your teens it can be hard to find yourself with lots of changes and going through puberty so I definitely was lucky to have GAA to focus on. I need to mention my mummy too, she drove me up and down the country going to training and matches. Most days she would have had to lift me from after school training to take me to camogie training and then lift me again to drive me up to Ardboe for football training and then come back and take me home. She did that for me for years so I owe her a lot of diesel money! If it wasn’t for her selfless commitment of taxiing me about I couldn’t have played on so many teams so she has a lot to do with my involvement in the GAA.   

3: Who has been your most difficult opponent and why?

Broadly speaking, the most difficult opponent in Ladies GAA (Football and Camogie) is the lack of respect, support and funding given to ladies GAA teams across all clubs in Ireland. As a ladies player you are always competing against a system and organisation that puts their men first. Getting equal respect, funding, accessibility to facilities and media coverage would be a great step forward in overcoming this opponent. I feel very strongly about the fact Ladies footballers and camogs are not treated with the same respect nor given the same opportunities that male GAA players get. I think in terms of media coverage this has improved slightly as they are televising more Ladies football games and Camogie games which is a great start but still it is evident when you look at the grounds some senior ladies county games are being played on that the facilities being offered are not of equal standards to the men and that needs to be addressed. I have played senior club games on community council pitches where there were no toilets available and the grass hadn’t been cut in months, I have had the flood lights turned off during trainings and games, I have had referees simply not turn up for games-these things are all too common in ladies GAA and I would safely say most ladies playing GAA have experienced similar if not worse experiences. We just put up with it for the love of the game and because we just want to play but I don’t think we should have to put up with these things. Everyone playing GAA, regardless of their gender should be treated as equals but unfortunately that isn’t the case. 

4: Apart from your home club, which club ground in Tyrone do you most enjoy playing on? 

As a Moortown woman I honestly have great memories playing on Moortown’s old pitch (even though it had one of the worst hills, whoever levelled that pitch at that time must have spent all morning in Lavery’s bar beforehand because it was brutal!)

Now, I don’t really have any preference of clubs grounds as long as the grass is cut and there is a toilet!

5: Most memorable or inspiring words of advice you have ever heard in a changing room?

My camogie coach in secondary school always said to us ‘Believe and you will achieve’, it is a cheesy one but it has always stuck with me.

6: Club volunteer of note?

 Lisa Mallaghan, she does everything in our club from fundraising to pumping up the balls, refereeing, managing youth teams, washing the jerseys (well her mum Ellenor does that, she uses lovely washing powder, our jerseys always be smelling deadly). I can honestly say if it wasn’t for Lisa we would not have a ladies team in Ardboe, so a big shout out to her.

7: How is your club currently ensuring it is playing its part in the community? 

Ardboe have organised lots of brilliant initiatives over the periods of lockdown, they delivered food hampers to the elderly in the community, they organised drive-in Bingo, weekly online zoom quizzes, organised litter picking days, sourced and distributed PPE and hand-sanitiser for local businesses and the local nursing home. They are very pro-active and played a massive part in supporting the community through these difficult times.

8: Are there other sports you enjoy playing or have a keen interest in? 

I’m also a camog for Ballinderry Shamrocks. I’ve played camogie from I was in Primary school and it was a massive part of my secondary school days in St. Pius X College. We won multiple Ulster titles and got to an All-Ireland final and I have a college All-star for Camogie. A few years ago, while living in Madrid, Spain, I started Crossfit which I fell in love with so when I came home I joined a Crossfit gym here which is a nice break from GAA and something I mainly focus on over the Winter months during pre-season.

9: Which county side, if any, look capable of defeating Dublin in the championship?

I really got behind Armagh ladies last year, I think they have great players and could have beaten Dublin in the semi-final, so I think this year with the experience from last year behind them they could go on and win an All-Ireland.

10: How would you describe your own involvement in the club?

As a senior player in Ardboe and a camog for Ballinderry, I have a hectic training schedule so I try my best when I can to support any club events and always go to support our girls youth teams. I help coach the U6 camogs in Ballinderry this year. When my playing days cease I look forward to dedicating more time to taking youth teams and giving back to the clubs that have supported my GAA career throughout the years.

  1. What rules, if any, would you like to see implemented or changed in the modern game?

As a defender I would like to see a bit more contact being allowed in the game. It would make for a better game just being allowed to get stuck in a bit more. I hate when a forward grabs your arm and pulls it in when you are tackling them to make it look like you are holding them. It is the oldest trick in the book and refs still give forwards the free for it every time, that really annoys me.

  1. If there was a transfer market in GAA, what club player in the same division as you would you like to see playing for your club and why? 

I went to University in St. Mary’s with Aoife Kelly from Loughmacrory and she was a great woman to have on a night out, loves the craic. So she would be a good addition for any club celebrations to bring along for the laughs. 

  1. Any superstitions or routines that you have or use on match days? 

Not really, when I was younger I would have had. I would have worn the same hair band in every game and wore this 1 pair of red socks under my football socks for good luck. The red socks were worn thin and had to be binned in the end! Now I just swear by my Addidas copa mundial boots, I don’t trust any other make of boots.

  1. Do you have a favourite training drill or one that you dread hearing the coach say is coming next?

My favourite part of training is the stretches in the warm up- I am obsessed with stretching! I also enjoy small conditioned games, fast paced, lots of touches, I think they are great for getting you up to match pace. As a defender, shooting wouldn’t be my greatest asset so shooting drills aren’t my favourite even though I could do with the practice.

  1. Last year’s club championships were very competitive, what are your predictions for the championship winners across all three divisions this year?

Division 3 – I hope Moortown get on well this year, they have just moved up to Division 3 and I think they will give it a run in years to come.

Division 2- US! I have a good feeling about this year.

Division 1- It is hard to look past St. Macs, however I would like to see Dungannon getting stuck in and giving them a run for their l



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