FULL-BACK Clodagh McManamon
To wear the Mayo jersey is a precious honour reserved for the chosen few. The green above the red is the uniform which signifies defiance, desire and the ability to dream on the darkest of days.
The jersey, the crest of the chest, the dream, the tradition – everything good about sport and life is represented by the emerald and scarlet of the county on the edge of the world.
On Saturday evening, not only did Clodagh McManamon wear the jersey, she captained her county at the highest level of the game and it was a proud and historic occasion for the Burrishoole woman.
Clodagh is no stranger to the Mayo jersey. She has worn many different numbers over the years, but Saturday’s match was her first for some time with the number three on the back.
“It was my first time in the full-back line for a long time and it’s a new set-up for me, but I enjoyed it. I’m learning and hopefully I’ll get better as we go along,” the captain told The Mayo News outside the dressing-room complex in MacCumhall Park after the enthralling battle with the home side.
Close by was a man who knows all about full-back play.
Former Kiltane defender, the truly legendary John Sweeney had very complimentary words for McManamon.
Sweeney is a long-time Donegal resident, vice-principal in St Columba’s College Stranorlar and he enjoyed watching the battle between McManamon and his past-pupil Karen Guthrie.
“You were excellent out there,” the match-steward told the Mayo captain. “Karen is as good as there is, a top-class full-forward and it’s hard to believe that was your first game for a long time in the position,” he remarked.
McManamon and her team might have lost Saturday night’s encounter thanks in the main to a penalty won by Guthrie in the final quarter, but there was no despondency in the Mayo camp.
“We played well in the first half and lost our shape a little after half time, but it’s a learning curve for all of us,” explained Clodagh. It’s just our second game out with new management and we’re all getting used to one another.
“Donegal are a really fine team. They were flying and definitely put it up to us out there,” she added as the Mayo women ate their post-match food under sunny skies.
“I was delighted to captain such a fine group of girls today. Playing for Mayo is an honour but to captain your county is very special. You can see how everyone is buying into this. The set-up is brilliant. We’re really enjoying it and the atmosphere is great. It’s lovely to play football on an evening like this with the sun shining and the summer stretching out in front of us.”