1923 – 1996
Kay Mills holds the record for winning an incredible 15 All Ireland Senior Medals - a feat that no other player in camogie, hurling or football has ever equaled.
Kay is a true camogie legend and merits a special place in the history of the game. Born in 1923 of a Dublin mother and a Cork father, she was a natural athlete. Tall, slight, and fair-haired, Kay possessed a devastating turn of speed that never seemed to diminish as years went by. She had a competitive spirit that was roused to its greatest when defeat threatened.
Raised in South Square, Inchicore, Kay was educated at Goldenbridge Convent. She played her club camogie with GSR (Great South Western – later renamed CIE). Her father was employed at the company’s Inchicore Works and, in his free time, helped out at the company’s sports club which was set up for the workers and their families. Kay made her debut for Dublin in 1941 and owned the left-wing midfield position until her retirement in 1961.
She had a particularly neat style of play. Frequently, she sprinted forward, rose and struck the ball in one movement sending it marginally under the opposing crossbar. A left-handed player, she scored more long-range goals than any other player in camogie.
Always pleasing to watch, Kay struck up a great partnership with her GSR and Dublin colleague, Kathleen Coady. Excellent at distributing the ball, Kay instructed Una O’ Connor, when she joined the Dublin team, to “sprint towards the goal when you see me getting the ball.” Invariably, the ball was waiting at Una’s feet as she arrived on the edge of the square.
Kay played in the golden era of Dublin camogie. She was surrounded by a galaxy of stars including Ide O’ Kiely, Peg Griffin, Doreen Rogers, Kathleen Cody, Sophie Brack, Eileen Duffy and Una O’ Connor. Moulded and guided by Nell McCarthy, the greatest coach in the history of the game, Dublin reigned supreme.
Kay was an automatic choice for Team of the Century and was inducted into the Cuchulainn Hall of Fame. On her retirement in 1961, she was presented with a replica of the O’ Duffy Cup by Dublin County Board. Kay married George Hill but, in camogie circles, was always known as Kay Mills and in all match reports she retains the title ‘Miss Mills’. Kay died in 1996. In 2014 she was short-listed to have Dublin’s newest bridge named in her honour but she lost out to Rosie Hackett by sixteen votes. Kay remains the most decorated player in the history of Gaelic Games and her memory lives on through the Kay Mills Cup, trophy of the All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship.
Thanks to Mary Moran, camogie herstorian and former President of the Camogie Association for this week’s Herstory.