'The past year has been tough - both mentally and physically' - My LGFA Life with Antrim's Saoirse Tennyson

My LGFA Life with Saoirse Tennyson – Antrim Footballer

Age: 23
Club: Naomh Pól, Belfast
Occupation: Retail worker
County debut: 2015 vs Wexford
Notable achievements:
Ulster Junior championship winner 2016 & 2019.
2019 Lidl National League Division 4 team of the League.
Ulster intermediate championship winner 2019
9 in a row Antrim senior championship winner 2012-2020
3 x Club senior player of the year 2016-2018

Q: Saoirse, thanks for chatting to us. How have you found your experience of playing Ladies Football?

A: No problem, thank you for having me. My experience of playing Ladies Football has been quite good. Although it has came with its fair share of challenges, overall I love playing the game and it has without a doubt made a positive impact on my life.

Q: What was it that sparked your interest in the sport from a young age?

A: As a kid, I was always running about the street with a ball playing football (soccer) with the boys. I was a bit of a tomboy. Then when I was in primary 5, my teacher suggested after school Gaelic for girls which was being run by Brian Coyle from St Paul’s, so I went along to try it out. Turns out I really enjoyed it and have been playing since.

Q: When did you pull on the Antrim jersey for the first time, and how big a thrill was that?

A: I first played for Antrim around nine years ago as part of the Under 14 development squad. Back in the goalkeeping days! It was a feeling of joy to know that I was good enough to represent both my club and county.

Q: What is the best thing for you about playing Ladies Football?

A: The positive effect playing has on my mental health is huge. I think it’s important for everyone, especially women, to have a hobby that helps them escape from the pressures of everyday life. The growth of Ladies Football in Antrim, especially in West Belfast, has been huge over the last number of years. Having the opportunity to be a role model for young girls in my area at such an exciting time is a great feeling also.

Q: Who was the biggest influence on your career?

A: Brian Coyle, Coyler, has been with me from the very start, through the highs and lows. I couldn’t be anymore grateful for this man. I wouldn’t be the player and person I am today without him! He holds a special place in my heart.

Q: What are the main challenges that you have faced in your career so far?

A: I would have to say my ACL injury in 2019, the past year has been tough both mentally and physically. I missed out on an awful lot with my club team last year, which made me more determined to get back and be the best I could be in 2020.

Q: You’re renowned as an attacking defender who likes to get forward in support of your front players. What do you consider as the biggest strengths of your game?

A: Timing off-the-shoulder runs to help break the line of defence which puts my team (hopefully) in a better position for a score.

Q: What do you do for a living/college, and how do you manage the work or college-life-sport balance?

A: I’m a retail assistant, I work just under 50 hours a week, I would be lying if I said it isn’t hard trying to balance both work and Gaelic but I suppose when you are doing something you love and enjoy, you have to sacrifice certain things to make time.

Q: You’ve had the proud experience of captaining the Antrim inter-county team? How big an honour has that been for you?

A: Incredible honour and very grateful that Sean O’Kane gave me the opportunity to captain those girls, especially at the age of 22! To lead those girls onto the pitch was a great feeling of pride and self achievement!

Q: What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your career?

A: I hope to win a senior Ulster/All-Ireland club championship, and promotion for Antrim. For my own personal aspirations and hopes, I want to keep improving every year and hopefully find myself coaching one day. It’s always been an ambition of mine to travel so hopefully if that happens, I get to play as part of the experience. Australia/Canada are top of the list.

Q: Have you played other sports?

A: Over the years I have tried many sports… soccer, Irish dancing, hip hop, boxing but never felt the same passion that I feel for Gaelic football.

Q: Do you have a favourite photograph from your career? Why does this photo mean so much to you?

A: The photo I picked is very special as it was my first game back after my ACL injury, a tough year full of ups and down, but thankful that I’m back doing what I love most!

Q: You play your club football with Naomh Pól. How have you found that experience and what is it about club football that’s so special?

A. I am very lucky to play alongside a bunch of talented girls, it’s amazing to still be playing alongside girls that I started my playing career with. Club football has given me the opportunity to show myself at county level.

Q: You’re facing down an opposition forward. How do you rate your chances of ensuring that the attacker doesn’t get through on goal?

A: First of all it’s important to slow the attacker down. Not diving in, making yourself big and then using two hands to slow the attacker’s progress gives you a chance. It’s important not to be flat-footed in this instance. If you dive in and try to dispossess the attacker with one clean tackle, you may hope it’s a good one!

Q: What’s your career highlight?

A: Many great moments over the years but a special moment for me was walking the steps in Clones and lifting the Ulster Junior cup in 2019, very proud moment!

Q: How confident are you that Antrim can make a big impact in the 2020 TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship?

A: Despite the lows of last year, I think there is a great buzz this year, new management, new young fresh players and also some old faces. A lot of changes have been made this year and I’m very positive that Antrim will put up a great battle this year!

Q: What piece of advice would you offer to up and coming young players?

A: Enjoy and be grateful for every minute you play.

Q: And who’s given you the best piece of advice during your career?

A: My coach Aaron McAufield: “control the controllables” or “remember the hard times and remember how far you have came” (this will make you grateful for the opportunity).

Q: What hobbies do you enjoy?

A: Before my injury, I had rarely set foot in a gym. But seeing as I had no choice but to attend for my rehab, I have since developed quite an enthusiasm for it. If I’m not doing a strength session, I’m there doing mobility/stretching and I enjoy the social aspect of it as well.

Q: You’re hosting a dinner party, and you can invite 5 people. Who’s on the list and what are you rustling up for your guests to eat?

A: Have to invite the girls – Laura, Nicole, Rebekah and Áine. If I didn’t there would be murder and lastly my mother as I don’t trust my own cooking lol, She makes a tasty curry.

Q: And finally, who’s your all-time sporting idol?

A: Bríd Stack, a well rounded and exciting player to watch.


Sign up to our email newsletter


Partners & Supporters





See all LGFAClubs