(Kathleen) "Kay" Mills-Hill (1923–1996) was an Irish sportsperson who played senior camogie with Dublin from 1941 until 1961. She is regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time, winning a record 15 All Ireland Senior Medals "that no other player in Camogie, hurling or football has equalled."
Early & private life
Katherine Rosaleen Mills was born in 31 South Square, Inchicore, Dublin, on October 8, 1923, of a Dublin mother and a Cork father. When she was just eighteen months old her mother died, leaving her to be raised by her maternal grandmother. From a young age Mills showed a great interest in a wide range of sport. She was educated in the local Convent School at Goldenbridge. She played table tennis and soccer as well as doing gymnastics, however, camogie was her first love in terms of sport. Kathleen’s father worked in the Inchicore works and therefore Kathleen was able to participate in and avail of the sporting activities in the GSR Athletic Union. Two pence per week were deducted from the worker’s wages to go towards the financing of the sports activities in the Railway. In 1947 Mills married George Hill.
Mills made her camogie debut with the Great Southern Railways club in Dublin in 1938 at the age of 14, and was promoted to the senior team for her second match. Three years later in 1941 she made her debut for Dublin while still 16 and played in Dublin's unsuccessful All-Ireland final against Cork, winning her first All-Ireland medal after a replay against Cork a year later.
In 1943 the same counties met in the All-Ireland final for the third year in-a-row. Once again Mills ended up claiming an All-Ireland medal, her goal from fifty yards range being described as the highlight of the match. The following year, 1944, brought a third All-Ireland medal. In 1945 and 1946 a dispute in the camogie association kept Dublin out of the All-Ireland championship in spite of being Leinster champions in both years. In 1948 Dublin were back on form and Mills captured a fourth All-Ireland medal. She took no part in the 1949 championship, however, the 1950s would bring much success to Mills.
Between 1950 and 1955 inclusive Mills captured six All-Ireland titles in-a-row. In 1956 “the Dubs” surrendered their crown to Anrtim, however, it was quickly reclaimed in 1957. In 1958 Mills was appointed captain of the Dublin camogie team. Led by her, Dublin defeated Tipperary to capture yet another All-Ireland title. The success didn’t end there as she captured three more All-Ireland medals in 1959, 1960 and 1961. The occasion of the 1961 final was special as it was Mills’s 38th birthday and her last outing in a Dublin jersey.
In her playing days Mills was regarded as one of the all-time greats. In retirement this opinion of her grew. As camogie’s first superstar she has often been described as the Christy Ring, Mick Mackey, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher of the camogie world. With a record haul of 15 senior All-Ireland medals Mills is the most decorated player in the history of Gaelic games.
Kathleen Mills died on August 11, 1996.
In 2010 the camogie trophy for the annual inter-county All Ireland Championship for counties graded Junior was named in her honour.
- Brendan Fullam, Captains of the Ash, (Wolfhound Press, 2002).
- Moran, Mary (2011). A Game of Our Own: The History of Camogie. Dublin, Ireland: Cumann Camógaíochta. p. 460.
- CIE GAA website
- ’Buses, Trains and Gaelic Games’ by John Cassidy (Original Writing, 2009) ISBN 978-1-907179-11-2. See also references on CIE GAA website and summary of book on publisher's website
- Obituary Irish Independent August 12, 1996
|All-Ireland Camogie Final
|Camogie Team of the Century (2004)|
1 Eileen Duffy-O'Mahoney | 2 Liz Neary | 3 Marie Costine-O'Donovan | 4 Mary Sinnott-Dinan | 5 Sandie Fitzgibbon | 6 Bridie Martin-McGarry | 7 Margaret O'Leary-Leacy | 8 Mairéad McAtanmey-Magill | 9 Kathleen Mills-Hill | 10 Linda Mellerick | 11 Pat Moloney-Lenihan | 12 Úna O'Connor | 13 Sophie Brack | 14 Deirdre Hughes | 15 Angela Downey-Browne |