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Irish NFL Invasion Continues As Derry U20 All-Ireland Winner Joins Giants | Balls.ie

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Former Derry underage footballer Jude McAtamney has become the latest Irishman to join the NFL after he signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent on Monday.

These are truly special days for Irish NFL fans – between Irish-born punter Daniel Whelan with the Green Bay Packers, Charlie Smyth of Co. Down joining the New Orleans Saints and now McAtamney’s move, Ireland is now well-represented in ‘America’s Game’.

And that’s not to mention the players in the International Player Programme like Mark Jackson and Rory Beggan, who are awaiting a phonecall from an NFL team.

SEE ALSO: Kerry Star Paudie Clifford Makes Unexpected Appearance During NFL Draft

Who is Jude McAtamney?

McAtamney won an Ulster title with the Derry U20s in 2018 before following his NFL dream, first heading to Chowan College in North Carolina and transferring to Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Rutgers have a decent reputation in the NCAA’s Big Ten Conference, and McAtamney gained plenty of exposure as a talented kicker, playing 25 games in two seasons with the Division I Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

He’ll stay in New Jersey to play with the Giants.

Raised in the Derry village of Swatragh, McAtamney looks set to compete with 37-year-old Graham Gano for a place on the Giants roster.

His own club in Derry have said he’s signed a three-year contract.

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McAtamney has previous spoken of gaining inspiration to take on the sport during the covid lockdown from Kerry’s David Shanahan, who moved across the Atlantic to play with Georgia Tech.

“As soon as David put up that he had signed for Georgia Tech I literally just got the interest there and then,” McAtamney told RTÉ back in 2021.

“I had a good kick and I always dreamed of playing professional sport and something just clicked in my head that day. This is the possibility to fulfil that dream.

“I had the whole of lockdown to train and experiment to see how good I was and eventually I contacted David. He looked at my kicks, said they were good enough and told me to forward them to a recruitment programme in Australia (Prokick), the same one he had worked with.”

Unlike Smyth, Beggan and Jackson, McAtmney was not a goalkeeper. He played mostly as a midfielder back in Swatragh.

Now the Derryman will face huge competition to win a place on the Giants final roster. While kicker Graham Gano had major knee surgery last year, it’s unclear exactly where McAtamney will fit in. He was used by Rutgers primarily on kickoffs and only attempted one field goal. He was their main placekicker in 2022.

However, the NFL’s kickoff rules are changing and perhaps the Giants are exploring a different options at the position.

Either way, it’s pretty great achievement by a member of the star-studded Derry U20 All-Ireland champions of 2018.

 

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