From South Armagh to the Premier League – Mags Byrne scores £30 million football deal

September 5, 2016

contributed by Connor Phillips

You know the old saying – behind every great man there is (probably) an even greater woman. But it may come as a surprise to learn that one of the biggest football deals done in the English Premier League this summer was masterminded by a Dromintee woman.

The woman in question is Mags Byrne. Football Agent.

Mags, a former Dromintee GAC Camog and past pupil of the Sacred Heart Grammar School has just helped push through a deal worth somewhere in the region of £30,000,000!

Through her new ever-growing football agency ‘First for Players’, Mags represents one of the most exciting players in the Premier League in Yannick Bolasie. In the last few weeks she has helped him secure a move from Crystal Palace to Everton where he will now play under the stewardship of Dutch football legend Ronald Koeman.

But, it is a far cry from her years an avid sports woman playing week in and week out in the shadow of Slieve Gullion at Dromintee GAC under the stewardship of legendary Camogie boss Alec Killgallon.

‘I loved playing for Dromintee. I made friends for life there and it is where I fell in love with sport. I don’t think I realised just how brilliant it was to be in a team like that until the you see the hectic world of Premier League football’.

Mags started her career in football at Sunderland Football Club working closely with Irish legend Niall Quinn and she progressed through the ranks there to become CEO. Sunderland have been a club that bounce between The Premier League and The Championship division but Mags can proudly say the club has never been relegated when she was at the helm:

‘I loved my time at Sunderland and I got to work with some amazing people. Football can be tough and the margins for error are tiny but I’m very proud that Sunderland are still a Premier League club.’

So how does a young woman from rural Ireland set about helping pull off one of the biggest transfers of the summer?

‘I had been part of some big deals throughout my career but I felt that the agents I dealt with didn’t always have the footballers true interests at heart. I met Yannick through a mutual friend and we just clicked. He wanted a change of clubs and we work very well together and he liked how I did things. It is why we called the agency ‘First for Players’. It is about trying to make sure I look after everything from contracts, travel, family, home life and the unpredictable things that players can’t always account for.’

Mags’ originally from Newry Road between Dromintee and Forkhill still manages to get back to see her family regularly and her south Armagh accent remains strong despite being away for over a decade. She is married to Gavin and comes from a family of six; her late mum Sally, dad Joe, brother Malachy and sisters Ann-Marie and Rebecca have always helped her keep her feet on the ground:

‘I’m not sure I could do this job without the help of my family. If I need to switch off they are always on the end of the phone or I just jump in a plane and head home for a day or so. On the other side of things they like the football side of the business which makes it easier – plus I’m never really out of the loop – my daddy posts me over all the local papers every week which I love!’.

With Mags now the only registered Irish female agent working in the Premier League she is following the likes of West Ham Vice Chairman Karen Brady and Norwich owner Delia Smith as the females around the negotiating table. With a Law Degree behind her from BBP Law School in London via Jordanstown and with her background in football she is looking forward to the challenge. So what is next for Mags and her company that she is very proud to call an Irish company in an ever competitive market?

‘‘We are a company that is growing rapidly and we are very keen to work with more Irish players. The Euros this summer and more recently Dundalk F.C. has shown the world how good the Irish can be. I hope I can help more Irish players show the best league in the world how good they can be”.