San Diego Demonstrative of Rapid Growth

THE promotional element of TG4/Ladies Gaelic Football Allstar tours is a key factor in showcasing the game internationally at a time of remarkable growth, agrees Association President Marie Hickey who is leading the group currently visiting San Diego. “Ladies Football is huge, when you go away I’m just blown away by it,”she explains.

15 March 2016; Dublin's Carla Rowe takes a selfie with team-mates, Niamh McEvoy, Noelle Healy, Sinead Finnegan, Sinead Aherne, Sinead Goldrick, Lyndsey Davey and Sorcha Furlong, as they get ready for the TG4 Ladies Football All Star team departure to San Diego. TG4 Ladies Gaelic Football Association All Star Tour to San Diego. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

“At the Asian Games in Shanghai last year, there were teams from everywhere – 50 ladies teams, more than there were men’s teams. And, even at that we didn’t have teams from the Middle East as they were getting ready for the World Games.”

She cited the example of two teams from Japan who competed at the World Games “and not an Irish person to be seen amongst them…These girls were there the previous year and were so excited about coming back. And they were back again, with more with them. It’s great to see the game spreading like that and taking off in other countries.

“I have always said it’s a game ‘in a sport’ that will stand on its own two feet. It kind of marries the skills of basketball, the skills of soccer to an extent and hand-to-eye co-ordination – and lots of players like that. And they like the game as a game within its own right…..”

Laois’ All Star Goalkeeper, Ciamh Dollard, is currently taking part in her first TG4 All Star Tour and is having a great experience already ‘I am really enjoying this, it is great to get away and meet so many of the girls that I usually only see when we are competing against each other, it is brilliant and the atmosphere amongst the group is fantastic.’

Ciamh has made her mark already amongst the tourists as she was quick to show her safe pair of hands as she turned her skills to a bit of drumming ‘We were at Pacific Beach and there were two lads playing bongo drums so myself and Sinead Finnegan from Dublin asked could we have a try and gave it a go so the rest of the girls gathered round and did a bit of dancing and had a good laugh, it is typical of the craic that we are enjoying so far.’

*The touring group is viewed as the most exerienced – and decorated – ever to travel on an Alltars tour since the first trip to New York twelve years ago. It’s evident in the individual honours gained by the leading players, specifically in relation to the achievements of the players from Cork, who have won ten of the last eleven All-Ireland titles under the inspired management of Eamonn Ryan.

Overall, the 42-strong group (representing twelve counties) hold over a hundred medals between them, with over 90% won by the Rebelettes.

Their contingent of twelve players features six who figured on each of the ten All-Ireland

triumphs – Bríd Stack, Rena Buckley, Briege Corkery, Geraldine O’Flynn, Deirdre O’Reilly and Valerie Mulcahy, followed by Angela Walsh (9), Ciara O’Sullivan and Annie Walsh (7 each), Vera Foley (4), Roisín Phelan (3) and Marie Ambrose (2).

Cora Staunton, widely acclaimed as one of the most gifted forwards in the history of ladies football, was a member of each of Mayo’s winning teams of 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003.

The only other medals are held by Maggie Murphy, a panellist with Laois in their 2001 victory, Geraldine Conneally with Galway n 2004 and five Dublin players who were part of the winning side against Tyrone in 2010 – Lynsdey Davy, Sorcha Furlong, Niamh McEvoy, Sinéad Aherne and Noelle Healy.

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