Memorial tourney for Marie and Caitiona

Caitriona McKeag. INLM1812-223con
Caitriona McKeag. INLM1812-223con

THE Marie Hoye and Caitriona McKeag Memorial seven-a-side tournament will take place on Saturday.

This is the third annual tournament and is the highlight of the year within the ladies section of Clann Eireann.

Marie Hoye. INLM1812-224con

Marie Hoye. INLM1812-224con

People come from far and wide to support this event and the club hopes to have 16 teams involved. Currently local clubs Sarsfields, Eire Og and Ballyhagan are all taking part.

Other teams include Donaghmoyne, Emyvale, Dromintee, Killeavy, St Galls, Creggan, Dungannon, Foxrock Cabiterry, Lisnaskea and Silverbridge.

Marie is fondly remembered both within Clann Eireann ladies football circles and in the wider Armagh ladies football family as a true legend, a unique person who passes but once in a lifetime.

Marie was the driving force behind the establishment of what was to become one of the most successful ladies football clubs in the county and further afield.

Clann Eireann was one of the first clubs in Armagh to embrace ladies football and indeed Marie herself was one of the first players to wear a club shirt.

She drove forward with unsurpassed determination, passion and dedication, taking a team from infancy through to an All-Ireland final. She did this despite her long battle with cancer which finally took her from those who loved her, on June 28, 2006, after an 11 year battle.

Marie’s influence was also clearly visible at county level when Armagh Ladies defeated Sligo in the All-Ireland Final in the autumn of 2005.

Six of her club mates wore the orange jersey that day and never did Marie more clearly demonstrate her courage than on that glorious occasion. Having just completed a course of treatment, she defied her body’s weakness to join her girls in celebration on the Croke Park turf.

At the time of her death, the Ladies County Board described Marie as ‘simply irreplaceable, a one-off and an inspiration to all’. The BBC also recognised the quality of Marie’s work and commitment when she was named as their ‘Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero’ for 2004.

Just nine months after Marie’s death and with Clann Eireann still openly hurting, tragedy again befell the ladies football family.

In March 2007, Caitriona McKeag, 16 years old and a hugely promising talent, sadly and very suddenly died after suffering from meningitis.

Caitriona was a beautiful outgoing girl and her death at such a young age left the club in disbelief. Her family’s grief was and remains unimaginable and her absence is still keenly felt among her Clann Eireann team mates.

Caitriona played with Clann Eireann through the underage levels and at the time of her death she was playing under 16, minor, and was introduced onto the senior panel.

Such were her talents, totally committed on the pitch, she never fell below 100 per cent and great was her pride in captaining the Armagh U16 ladies football team.

Caitriona loved her family, friends and her club. She possessed a near permanent smile and was the life and soul wherever she went.

It seems Marie needed assistance in heaven, and in Caitriona McKeag she will get all the help she needs.

The Memorial Trophy begins at 10.30am and will be run throughout the day at the club, with cup and shield finals in the afternoon.

Clann Eireann has asked everyone to come and support the fantastic display of ladies football at its finest. The club will also be hosting a disco and entertainment from ‘Twice Daily’ in the social club that night.