Angela Downey

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Angela Downey
Personal information
Irish name Aingeal Nic Giolla Domhnaigh-de Brún
Sport Camogie
Position Corner-forward
Born Kilkenny, Ireland
Club(s)
Years Club
St Paul's and Lisdowney
Inter-county(ies)
Years County
1970–1995 Kilkenny
Inter-county titles
All-Irelands 12

Angela Downey-Browne (born 1957, Kilkenny) is a retired Irish sportsperson. She played camogie at various times with her local clubs, St Paul's camogie club based in Kilkenny city and Lisdowney, and was a member of the Kilkenny senior inter-county team from 1970 until 1994. Downey is regarded as the greatest player in the history of the game.[1][2]

Downey's reputation as one of the all-time greats of camogie is self-evident. In a senior inter-county career that lasted for a quarter of a century she won twelve All-Ireland medals, thirteen Leinster medals and eight National League medals. With her two clubs St. Paul's and Lisdowney she collected a huge haul of twenty-two county titles and six All-Ireland club medals.[citation needed]

Downey was also presented with a number of personal awards during her career. In 1977 she was honoured with the B&I Player of the Year Award. Almost a decade later in 1986 Downey became only the third camogie player ever to be presented with a Texaco Award. In 2004 her reputation as the greatest player of all-time was further cemented when she was named on the Camogie Team of the Century.[citation needed]

Biography[edit]

Angela Downey was born in Kilkenny in 1957. From a young age camogie was a central part of her life, as well as the life of her twin sister Ann. Their father Shem Downey won an All-Ireland medal with Kilkenny in 1947. Angela started playing camogie when she was nine years-old and, in time, she would go on to become one of the best players in the history of the game.[3]

Playing career[edit]

Club[edit]

Downey played most of her club camogie with the famed St Paul’s Camogie Club, Kilkenny. When the club disbanded in the early 1990s she had already collected a huge haul of twenty county titles. During this period Downey won six All-Ireland club titles, the first of which came in 1970. She won the last of her six All-Ireland club medals nineteen years later in 1989. She later joined the Lisdowney club and enjoyed further success. Together with her twin-sister Ann she won a further two county medals.[2]

Inter-county[edit]

Downey was a mere thirteen years-old when she first played senior camogie with Kilkenny in 1970. Two years later in 1972 she was a key member of the team and she lined out in her first championship decider. Cork provided the opposition and it was 'the Rebel' ladies who captured a 2–5 to 1–4 victory. Two years later in 1974 Kilkenny were back in the All-Ireland final and, once again, Cork were the opponents. After an exciting game both sides ended level with Kilkenny scoring 3–8 and Cork scoring 4–5. The replay took place a few weeks later and another tense game ensued. Kilkenny sneaked the victory by 3–3 to 1–5 and Downey captured her first All-Ireland medal.

Kilkenny surrendered their All-Ireland crown in 1975, however, Downey lined out in a third All-Ireland final in 1976. On that occasion Kilkenny took on Dublin. A close game followed with neither side taking a definite lead. At the full-time whistle Kilkenny were the winners by 0–6 to 1–2. It was Downey's second All-Ireland medal.

In 1977 Downey had the honour of captaining Kilkenny in their quest for back-to-back All-Ireland titles. That year she guided her county to the All-Ireland final once again. It was an exciting occasion as Wexford, the winners of the championship two years earlier, provided the opposition. Kilkenny, however, had a relatively easy victory on a score line of 3–4 to 1–3. Not only was it Downey's third All-Ireland medal but she also had the honour of collecting the O'Duffy Cup. She was later chosen as the B&I Player of the Year.

Kilkenny went into decline for the next few years; however, Downey added a National Camogie League medal to her collection in 1980. It was Kilkenny's first title in that competition. This victory acted as a launch pad for further All-Ireland success. In 1981 Kilkenny squared up against Cork in the championship decider. After an exciting game both sides ended with 3–9 apiece. The replay was not as exciting, however, it was more conclusive, Kilkenny won that game by 1–9 to 0–7 with Downey collecting a fourth All-Ireland medal.

All-Ireland success was slow in coming over the next few years; however, Downey won a second National League medal with Kilkenny in 1982. Three years later in 1985 she collected a third winners' medal in that competition. Kilkenny later qualified for another All-Ireland final. Dublin provided the opposition on that occasion; however, they faced a Kilkenny team that was on the verge of dominating camogie for the bones of the next decade. The final ended with a 0–13 to 1–5 victory for 'the Cats', giving her a fifth All-Ireland medal.

1986 saw Kilkenny line out in a second consecutive All-Ireland final, her sixth in all. For the second year in-a-row Dublin provided the opposition, however, once again the result was the same. Kilkenny were much too strong for 'the Dubs' and won the game by 2–12 to 2–3. It was Downey's sixth All-Ireland title. She was later presented with a Texaco Award, thus becoming only the third camogie player ever to win one.

In 1987 Downey added a fourth National League medal to her collection after Kilkenny got the better of Dublin in yet another national final. Later that year Kilkenny qualified for the All-Ireland final. It was an historic occasion as Downey's side were hoping to capture a third All-Ireland title in-a-row, something that Kilkenny had never achieved. Cork stood in their way, however, Kilkenny gave a great performance in the final. The full-time score of 3–10 to 1–7 gave Kilkenny the victory and gave Downey a seventh All-Ireland medal.

In 1988 Downey had the honour of captaining Kilkenny once again. It would turn out to be a hugely successful year for Kilkenny once again. She began the year by winning a fifth National League medal before later guiding her county to the All-Ireland final once again, against Cork. The game was a high scoring affair, however, Kilkenny won relatively easily in the end by 4–11 to 3–8. It was Downey's eighth All-Ireland medal while she also joined an exclusive club of player that had captained their county to more than one All-Ireland victory.

In 1989 no county was able to match Kilkenny's hunger and desire for camogie success. Cork fell in the National League final to give Kilkenny and Downey a sixth title in that competition. The subsequent All-Ireland final was a repeat of the championship deciders of the previous two years. Cork were out to avenge those defeats and avoid losing a third All-Ireland final in-a-row, while Kilkenny were hoping to add another consecutive title to their huge collection. The result was a decisive one with Kilkenny winning the day by 3–10 to 2–6, giving Downey a ninth All-Ireland medal.

1990 saw Downey and Kilkenny continue their winning ways. At the start of the year the county annexed a fourth consecutive National League title. It was Downey's seventh medal in that competition. The subsequent All-Ireland final saw Kilkenny take on Wexford for the first time since 1977. Kilkenny dominated the game from start to finish and completely overwhelmed their near neighbours and rivals. The final score of 1–14 to 0–7 gave Downey her tenth All-Ireland medal on the field of play, a victory which made her joint third with Kay Ryder on the all-time list of leading All-Ireland medal holders.

In 1991 Downey was captain of her native-county once again. The year started badly when Kilkenny's great run of success in the National League came to an abrupt end. Cork defeated 'the Cats' in the final of that competition, denying the county a fifth league title in-a-row. In spite of this defeat Downey's side later qualified for the All-Ireland final. Cork provided the opposition once again and an intriguing contest took place. Kilkenny won the day by 3–8 to 0–10. Once again it was Kilkenny's success in getting goals at vital times that gave them a seventh All-Ireland title in-a-row. It was Downey's eleventh All-Ireland medal overall. She lifted the O'Duffy Cup for the third time. The team bounced back in 1993 after a decline, with Downey winning her eighth National League medal. It was 1994, however, before Downey lined out in her next All-Ireland final. Wexford, Kilkenny's nearest neighbours, provided the opposition on that occasion. The game had a familiar ring to it as 'the Cats' were on top for pretty much all of the game. A final score of 2–11 to 0–8 gave Downey her twelfth All-Ireland medal on the field of play. On the same day her sister Ann collected her eleventh medal on the field of play. Downey's camogie prowess was subsequently acknowledged when she was named Camogie Player of the Year.

In 1995 Downey lined out in her final championship season with Kilkenny. It was a remarkable twenty-five years since she made her debut as a thirteen-year-old. For the final time she lined out to play on All-Ireland final day as Cork provided the opposition. Kilkenny, however, were not the force that they once were. After an exciting game Cork emerged victorious by 4–8 to 2–10, thus, denying Downey a thirteenth All-Ireland medal. There was remarkable symmetry associated with the game. Her first All-Ireland final saw Kilkenny defeated by Cork while her final All-Ireland final appearance saw Cork claim the victory once again. Downey retired from inter-county camogie following this defeat.

Provincial[edit]

Downey also lined out with Leinster in the Gael Linn sponsored inter-provincial camogie championship. In all she won ten inter-provincial titles with her province.[citation needed]

Retirement[edit]

In retirement Downey's reputation as one of the greatest players of all-time has grown. Her haul of twelve All-Ireland medals is surpassed by only two other all-time greats, Úna O'Connor and Kathleen Mills. In 2004 Downey was named in the left corner-forward position on a special team picked to celebrate the centenary of the Camogie Association of Ireland. Downey boycotted the presentation in protest at the absence of her sister Ann from the team. Angela is a teacher at Grennan College in Thomastown, County Kilkenny[4]

Achievements
Preceded by
Mary Fennelly
(Kilkenny)
All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final
winning captain

1977
Succeeded by
Nancy O'Driscoll
(Cork)
Preceded by
Bridie McGarry
(Kilkenny)
All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final
winning captain

1988
Succeeded by
Ann Downey
(Kilkenny)
Preceded by
Breda Holmes
(Kilkenny)
All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final
winning captain

1991
Succeeded by
Sandy Fitzgibbon
(Cork)

Teams[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Moran, Mary (2011). A Game of Our Own: The History of Camogie. Dublin, Ireland: Cumann Camógaíochta. p. 460. 
  2. ^ a b "The Camogie Team of the Century". Camogie Association of Ireland. 28 February 2004. Retrieved 16 September 2008. 
  3. ^ Foley, Michael (2 January 2005). "The top 10 Irish sporting families". The Times. London, UK. Retrieved 24 May 2009. By the end of her career, Angela was commonly recognised as the greatest player the game has seen 
  4. ^ "Downey boycotts camogie award ceremony". RTÉ Sport. 1 March 2004. Archived from the original on 15 September 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2008. 

Sources[edit]

  • Corry, Eoghan, The GAA Book of Lists (Hodder Headline Ireland, 2005).
  • Donegan, Des, The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games (DBA Publications Limited, 2005).
  • Fullam, Brendan, Captains of the Ash, (Wolfhound Press, 2002).