Saturday, March 2, 2024

Dublin’s TG4 LGFA All-Ireland win is clear highlight of 2023 for Ballinamore’s Irish O’Dowd

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We are back to the time of year where we simultaneously look back at the past and look to the future. At the Observer’s sports department, we are no exception. Or maybe we’ll find out what works when we resume his popular 2023 sports reviews over the next few weeks.

The Leitrim Observer invited some of the county’s best sporting figures and journalists to reflect on 2023 and reveal its highs and lows. This is the first part of a look back at an exciting and action-packed year.

In this piece, Ballinamore native Eilish O’Dowd shares her incredible personal year of highs and the catalyst for her huge success when the Dubs won the TG4 LGFA All-Ireland Senior Championship. I am looking back on my role as a mother. Shock the Sky Blues in 2023.

Here, in Eilish’s own words, are the highs and lows of the 2023 sports year.

This year’s highlights

My highlight of the year was winning the TG4 All-Ireland final against Dublin Senior Ladies. Expectations were initially low, given the high turnover of experienced players from 2022 and the uncertainty of the league, making the occasion even more special. It has always been a dream of mine to play at Croke Park. I was dressed in blue and felt I represented Leitrim that day. It’s an occasion that I will always be reminded of.

this year’s lowlights

It was a great disappointment for the Irish men’s rugby team to be eliminated in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. They put in some impressive performances throughout the tournament and gave us pride as a country, but considering they held their place as the world’s number one team before the tournament, I see them leaving. It was a shame. Ireland put in some great performances, especially defeating eventual champions South Africa in the group stage.

this year’s personality

Dublin footballer and former Irish rugby star Hannah Tyrell is an impressive role model for young people involved in the sport in 2023. Hannah had a fantastic season with Dublin and was named player of the match in the All-Ireland final. Her second All-Star award win. Her Hannah’s efforts are all the more impressive given that she and her wife Sorcha celebrated the birth of their first child, Aoife, just before the All-Ireland final. Hannah has also been open about her struggles with mental health, and she continues to encourage young athletes to speak up if they are struggling, saying that participating in sport can help overcome these challenges. she continued to complain.

team of the year

Ballinamore SOH Ladies are my 2023 Team of the Year. After a tough start in the Championship, the Ladies showed their determination by winning their first Senior B title against St Mary’s, before taking on St Mary’s in a tough Connacht final. Eoghan Lua shows resilience. This was a historic win for the club, as no team had ever gone this far in the state series. Impressively, they didn’t stop there and made further history for the club by defeating a heavily supported side from Derry to reach the All-Ireland final. Despite losing in the final, Ballinamore Ladies represented Leitrim superbly on the day with overwhelming support from Croke Park County. Not many clubs get the chance to represent their county on a big stage. The women of Ballinamore can be proud of the history they have created for their club.

Who Will Surprise You in 2023?

I have been incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with an amazing management team in Dublin this year. The management team is approachable both professionally and personally and I felt very welcome from day one. However, there was only one person who led me to success and supported me every step of the journey, and that is my mother. Between late night phone calls after grueling training sessions to traveling across the country for every match, I couldn’t have asked for more. Thanks to her unwavering support, I believed I could play at the highest level of women’s soccer and actually aspired to a starting position on the team. Winning an All-Ireland medal would not have been possible without her mother’s encouragement.

One thing I want to do to make sports better in 2024

From my own personal experience, commuting long distances to and from training puts a huge strain on athletes from both a physical and financial standpoint. Improved financial support for athletes, especially students, would make it more viable for athletes to attend training sessions. Although current subsidies have improved in recent years, we feel that more emphasis needs to be placed on these players to encourage continued participation.

What challenges will Leitrim Sport face in 2024?

One of the biggest challenges for sport in Leitrim is funding, especially given the large number of different sports played in the county. Due to the small population, funding is an ongoing challenge. Clubs are under considerable pressure to raise funds to support their respective teams. This is an ongoing challenge for Leitrim, but it is hoped that the recent generous donation made by JP McManus will alleviate some of these funding issues.

What to watch in 2024

Roisin McHugh is definitely a player to watch in 2024 after having a phenomenal season this year, winning player of the match awards in both the county final against Ballinamore and the Connacht final. Earlier this year, Róisín suffered a setback due to injury. However, she came back stronger than ever and as a result she was named November’s Athlete of the Month by the LGFA. I can see Róisín making a huge impact on Leitrim Ladies in 2024.

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