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The game that left a huge mark on eight-year-old Lauren

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Lauren McConville. Photo: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Lauren McConville. Photo: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Lauren McConville. Photo: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Lauren McConville was in the Lower Hogan Stand cheering on her uncle as he scored 1-2 and picked up the man of the match as Armagh cap¬tured the All-Ireland football title for the first and only time in September 2002.

The game against Kerry, with Oisin McConville’s goal the decisive score, was won by Armagh by 1-12 to 0-14 and the match and its aftermath left an indelible mark on excited eight-year-old Lauren, who was determined from then on to make her own mark.

“That win was extra special. I think I was eight at the time but I still appreciated it as much as everyone else in Croke Park that day,” says Lauren.

“It was unbelievable. I have never seen so many people as happy in one place.

“I even remember the scenes in the local towns afterwards. It meant so much to everyone.

“The streets of Crossmaglen were filled when we got home that night, it was like a sea of orange.

“Oisin has been an inspiration to me growing up as well. It was just incredible when they were able to win the All-Ireland.”

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At that stage, Crossmaglen Rang¬ers had already won three All-Ireland club titles.

In March 1997, Jim McConville became the first captain to lift the Andy Merrigan Cup wearing the famous black and amber — he is Lauren’s father.

She also has a couple of cousins in the current Orchard County men’s set-up, with Rian and Oisin O’Neill flying the flag.

And with Crossmaglen blood flow¬ing through her veins, she was always likely to find her way into the Ladies football ranks.

“It was inevitable that I was going to play football,” Lauren smiles.

“I grew up watching my dad’s games. I would literally have them on replay in the video player from a young age. I always loved it.

“When I turned six, my dad took me to under-age training with the boys.

From there, I never looked back. I played since, I loved it.

“My dad was into football and my mum, Michelle, was a great camo¬gie player as well. I was growing up around the Gaelic Games.

“My granny would have been really involved in the local club as well.

“I was always around that Gaelic Games community and I loved it.

“I was kicking football in the back garden. And as soon as I was let go to training, it was probably the best day ever for me.”


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