Clann Eireann spirit helped Mags get back on the pitch after cancer battle

ON August 1, the Clann Eireann ladies made the trip to Dromintee for what seemed like a normal Division One clash.

However, it would be a landmark day for former Armagh captain Mags McAlinden who came on against Dromahill to mark her first appearance since winning her battle against cancer.

The Lurgan girls may have won the match, but the result was pretty irrelevant in what was a special night.

Here, in her own words, Mags speaks about her journey….

On the day where I felt so low about receiving the devastating news, my door never stopped and my phone never quit from my Clann Eireann teammates and best friends. I then decided in my head ‘I’m going to get through this’.

The team of girls named themselves ‘Maggie’s Army’, and they were there for me every step of the way.

Of course, you get bad days going through chemotherapy, but the girls didn’t give me much time to think about it. We had lunch dates, walks and lots of tears along the way, but they always made me smile by the end of it.

Going to watch training and attend matches was such a help to me as feeling part of a team and watching such talented players in action lifted my spirits.

During my appointments, the girls took turns and always were so positive for me and made me feel safe.

My treatment finished last year on August 6 when, again, my friends played a part in helping me ring the bell. Seeing them in their Clann Eireann gear meant the world to me.

I had no intentions of getting back on the pitch again. But I built myself back up, took up running during lockdown and went to a few sessions in Clann Eireann, more so for the social aspect to train with my friends.

My Granda, who was a big supporter and a much-loved fan of mine, sadly passed away in June. I decided I was going to train a bit harder to get back on the pitch for Granda.

He attended a lot of my matches and was always very proud, and thankfully on Saturday night I got back on the pitch.

The power of the GAA can help you through the tough times and I will be forever grateful to my Clann Eireann family who were simply immense.

I then decided in my head ‘I’m going to get through this’

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