The Leeside Legends series: Marie Costine was the camogie queen of Cloyne

The Leeside Legends series: Marie Costine was the camogie queen of Cloyne
Cork's Marie Costine, right, in action in the 1973 All-Ireland camogie final. 

THE East Cork village of Cloyne has produced two of the greatest sportspeople ever to hold a hurley.

It is the birthplace of the late Christy Ring as well as camogie star Marie Costine, whose stirring displays at full-back made her a star in the 1960s and 1970s.

Marie was born in Cloyne in 1947 and attended Cloyne National School, but amazingly started playing camogie much later than some of her peers.

Costine began playing at the age of 17 when she was part of the Oil Refinery club that landed a junior championship.

Two years after her camogie debut,Marie joined Youghal where she remained until 1971.

Honours were hard to come by with the Seasiders, and it wasn’t until Cloyne set up their own camogie club that things changed for Marie.

It was the start of anillustrious career for the Cloyne and two years later she helped them win the 1973 Cork County Junior Championship title and the Intermediate championship followed two years later.

She was also part of the Imokilly divisional team that won five-in-a-row in the senior ranks between 1972-76.

The 1973 Cork team featuring Marie Costine, third from left in the front.
The 1973 Cork team featuring Marie Costine, third from left in the front.

Incredibly, she went on to win another four senior championships, this time with Killeagh, as she played a leading role in their county wins of 1980, ’81, ’82, and ’84 that brought her Cork Senior County championships medal tally to nine.

Killeagh also had a memorable win in the 1980 All-Ireland Club Championship when they defeated Buffer’s Alley of Wexford in a pulsating final.

Costine began playing with Cork in 1967 and she had to wait only four years for her first All-Ireland when she won a senior medal, the Rebels defeating Kilkenny in the final.

The brilliance of Cork at the time was epitomised as they managed four in a row from 1970 to 1973. Marie was full-back on all four.

Marie was nominated as captain of the 1973 Cork team, and she proudly led the Rebels to a one-point win over Antrim in a pulsating decider.

“It was a day I will never forget, as I was always very proud to wear the jersey of Cork, but to captain the All-Ireland winning team was the proudest moment of my camogie career.

“The game itself was nail-biting from start to finish, but we just about held out for that memorable win.”

Back then, camogie was only 12-a-side, but the Costine family were not far from fielding a full family team! In the 1973 final of the Cork Intermediate Championship, when Cloyne were victorious, Marie and her six sisters were all part of the team on that day.

“It was unreal and unusual, but my six sisters, Bunnie, Bernie, Kathleen, Rita, Geraldine and Ashlyn, all played on the day and that meant a lot to all of us playing together with our beloved club.”

Indeed, the family is steeped in sporting tradition as her sister Bernie is the mother of the former Cork senior hurling goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack.

Marie looks back on her career with pride but believes more support at games is still needed.

“The present-day players are a lot fitter but to me, attendances at games have not improved that much from my time as all young people want to do is watch TV and play on their laptops and phones and a lot of outdoor sports have suffered in a big way.”

In 1979, Marie married Edmond O’Donovan and they had two children, Edmond Jnr and Joanne.

After what was an illustrious career Marie retired in 1987 at the age of 40 after playing at the top level for 20 years.

Sandie Fitzgibbon, Marie Costine O'Donovan, Pat Moloney Lenihan and Linda Mellerick who were named on the Camogie team of the Century. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE
Sandie Fitzgibbon, Marie Costine O'Donovan, Pat Moloney Lenihan and Linda Mellerick who were named on the Camogie team of the Century. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

As she recalled those memorable times, Marie says that an abiding memories is playing at the Cloyne GAA pitch as a young girl with the legendary Christy Ring.

“Every Saturday I would go up for a puck-about at our pitch and nine times out of 10 Christy would be up there,” she said.

“Christy would always send me into goal and at first his shots would be tame but when he gathered momentum his shots would pass me like bullets always advising me that wrist work was crucial.”

If Christy Ring is classed as the King of Cloyne, then surely Marie Costine would have to be classed as Queen.

Her sporting honours in camogie are another great chapter in Cloyne’s history.

FACTFILE:

Marie Costine is the holder of nine Cork senior championship medals.

Marie is the aunt of the former Cork Senior hurling goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack.

Costine captained Cloyne to win the Cork Intermediate camogie championship of 1973 where her six sisters also played in the same team.

In 2004 Marie Costine was named on the camogie team of the century at a presentation before 1,000 guests at the City West Dublin.

Marie retired from camogie in 1987 at the age of 40.

More in this section

Sponsored Content