Friday 30 September 2016

'Dream final' can shatter attendance records - Hickey

Michael Verney

Published 23/09/2015 | 02:30

In attendence at a photocall ahead of the TG4 All-Ireland Junior, Intermediate and Senior Ladies Football Championship Finals are from left, senior finalists, Carla Rowe, Dublin, Cork captain Ciara O'Sullivan, Marie Hickey, President of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Ronan O'Coisdealbha, Head of Sport, TG4, Eimear Scally, Cork, and Sorcha Furlong, Dublin.
In attendence at a photocall ahead of the TG4 All-Ireland Junior, Intermediate and Senior Ladies Football Championship Finals are from left, senior finalists, Carla Rowe, Dublin, Cork captain Ciara O'Sullivan, Marie Hickey, President of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Ronan O'Coisdealbha, Head of Sport, TG4, Eimear Scally, Cork, and Sorcha Furlong, Dublin.
Attending the Ladies Football Finals’ photocall were team captains Michelle McMahon (Louth); Carla Rowe (Dublin); Ciara O’Sullivan (Cork); Aisling Holton (Kildare) and Linda Wall (Waterford)

This Sunday could be a record-breaking occasion at Croke Park with Ladies' Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) president Marie Hickey expecting a monster turn-out for the "dream final" pitting Cork against Dublin.

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Last year's epic decider produced a heart-stopping finish with the Rebelettes coming from ten points down with 15 minutes to play to snatch an unlikely win.

With the Sky Blues having improved immeasurably this year under manager Gregory McGonigle, Hickey hopes that over 30,000 spectators will attend the intriguing showdown between the top two teams in ladies football.

"We're hoping to surpass the largest attendance at a women's sporting event in Europe this year which was 30,710 for the women's FA Cup in England," she noted.

"It would be great to break that record. Our own record is 33,000, back in 2001; it was the largest crowd we've ever had so it would be brilliant if we got close to that.

"Last year was such a great final and if we could have a repeat of that, or something even close to it, then that would be absolutely wonderful."

An unprecedented attendance is not the only history at stake, however, as Eamonn Ryan's remarkable Cork side seek their fifth consecutive Brendan Martin Cup, and their tenth in 11 years.

In addition, the midfield pair of Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery look to etch their names further into GAA folklore as the exceptional dual players both chase their 16th senior All-Ireland medal.

With the capital also in party mode after Jim Gavin's footballers claimed Sam Maguire last Sunday, Hickey believes we are set for a blockbuster afternoon.

"The women are going for the double with the men, which would be a great achievement for Dublin and hopefully the Dublin supporters will come out and support that which would be great. Cork going for five in a row is a major milestone as well," the Laois native said.

"Two of their players, Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley, going for a double-double with the camogie for last year and this year which is an amazing achievement for those players. So there's a lot of things going for both senior counties.

"It would be great to have a big crowd to cheer them out when they run out on the pitch on All-Ireland final day. Because they have put so much into it and they deserve that at least."

Hickey, who is in her first year as LGFA president, welcomes the extra recognition for women in sport in recent times. However, she admits that women are often their own worst enemies with regards to achieving added exposure and promotion for the game.

"We have enough members to fill Croke Park twice over in this country alone. But for some reason it just doesn't always happen," the science and maths teacher said.

"We're trying to figure out why that it is and what we can do to change it but it is definitely a factor.

"We do need our own members supporting our own code and while it's improving it certainly has a long way to go."

Irish Independent

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