Men like Jason Sherlock were my football heroes but it's time now to create female role models
Published 26/08/2016 | 14:43
SINEAD Goldrick looks a little bashful when asked what it is feels like to have her face plastered, giant-sized, on billboards across the nation.
Despite being a four-time All-star, the Dublin defender admits she had reservations, especially about sharing a stage with one of the other three players chosen to front this year’s powerful Lidl #serioussupport ladies football campaign.
“What Briege Corkery has done in her career, she is already a role model above anybody else,” Goldrick insists.“She should have been put on a pedestal years ago for everything she’s achieved.”
Her own involvement in the high-profile publicity campaign has yielded some funny double-takes and regular queries of ‘are you the girl from that ad?’
“I tried not to think about it but it was everywhere, it was certainly visible!” she laughs. But the 25-year-old Foxrock Cabinteely star feels the occasional slagging was worth it for the long-term cause.
“I just thought about when I was younger and the fact that all my role models were men like Jason Sherlock!” she reveals. “I felt if any young players saw a sponsorship or advertisement like that, it could give them female athletes as role models. I thought that was very important.
“In terms of the landscape of women in sport the Lidl sponsorship has given ladies football a great avenue to promote their game. You’d hope other companies will see the benefit of it now, and that other women’s sports get similar sponsors.”
That is a subject close to her heart, both as a player and a PR executive with Vodafone. Goldrick did social science in UCD followed by a Masters in marketing in DIT, and she spent a year working for PSG, one of Ireland’s leading sports PR agencies. Her work with Vodaphone includes working on their corporate responsibility and social innovation and charity programmes. As part of the latter she has already personally created an app called ‘Game Day’.
It is designed to help people find and hook up with their closest sports’ clubs (not just GAA) and the Federation of Irish Sport, which represents 26 different sports, is now taking it to production level. Goldrick actually believes promotion of women’s sport has improved substantially recently.
“I do think there’s huge progress in terms of participation, awareness and appreciation, from local to national,” she says. “The commercial side and attendance at games, these are the things that still need to be improved. But ladies gaelic football is only developing for 40 years or more, the GAA is 100 years old!” she stresses.
“I think parents can play a huge role too,” she adds. “There are small things they can do, like bringing their daughters to women’s games, not just men’s. There’s an onus on society to support female athletes, to get out and look at their games.
“The skill-set between men and women’s gaelic games are the same but they are very different type of games,” she acknowledges. “I hate to see people who go and see one bad game - men’s or women’s - and then judge everything on that. You need to give it a chance.
“That’s why TG4, by televising ladies’ football, are also doing a great job. People might not travel to games but, if they see it on the TV and enjoy it, that might encourage them to go and watch it in person the next time.”
Gaelic fans have exactly that opportunity when her side take on Mayo in a mouth-watering All-Ireland semi-final double-header in Cavan tomorrow (Sat). Having Goldrick back fully fit after she missed most of their league campaign is vital to Dublin’s hopes of making their third All-Ireland SFC in-a-row. She struggled with repetitive hamstring injuries until it was solved by the Irishman who has treated the fastest man on the planet.
“Our club physio Nuala Mohan works with Anthony ‘Star’ Geoghegan in Carlow and referred me to him,” Goldrick explains.
“He’s given me this slanted stretching box that he’s used with people like Usain Bolt so I stretch on it every morning and evening and it’s really helped. Once I heard that Bolt had used it I was converted!”
Show your #SeriousSupport at the TG4 Ladies All-Ireland Football Championship Final on September 25th in Croke Park.