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Former Derry U20 star signs NFL contract with New York Giants

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FROM the humble beginnings of Swatagh, Co Derry, to the lofty heights of the New York Football Giants, Jude McAtamney has had one hell of a journey.

McAtamney took the step into professional sport on Monday when he signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent.

The NFL Draft drew to a close on Sunday but McAtamney did not declare for the draft so could not be selected, which left him open to field offers from any team.

Even if he had declared for the draft, it is usually unlikely for special teams players to be selected in the 257 picks of the draft, with teams preferring to wait until free agency to snap up the ‘legs’.

McAtamaney will now join Brian Daboll’s New York Giants, who are actually based in East Rutherford in the state of New Jersey.

The Giants already have an international specialist in the shape of Scotsman Jamie Gillan who has a six-year head start of the Derry man.

McAtamney was a promising prospect for the Oak Leafers, as a young free-taker for Derry U20s when they won the Ulster title in 2018.

Jude McAtamney’s family is steeped in football. One of his six elder brothers, Conor, played for Derry, retiring in 2021.

He took inspiration from David Shanahan from Kerry, who moved to Georgia Tech to play as a punter for the Yellow Jackets.

McAtamney went to play for Rutgers University, which is also based in New Jersey, where he played a total of 25 games before going through the free-agent process.

At Rutgers, he was a dab hand at placekicking, which is proving to be a desirable transferable skill from Gaelic Football to American Football, with the former Michael Davitt’s player recording a 63 per cent success rate from field goals and averaging 60.5 yards from kick-offs for the Scarlet Knights.

The Swatragh will join Charlie Smyth, who the New Orleans Saints signed on March 29, and Daniel Whelan, who signed for the Green Bay Packers last year as the Irish contingent in the NFL goes from none to three in 12 months.

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