Entertainment Television

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Sports presenter Will Dalton has just joined Virgin Media Television - but his little sister Sinead was there first


Sinead and Will Dalton both work at Virgin Media Television. Photo: Tony Gavin
Sinead and Will Dalton both work at Virgin Media Television. Photo: Tony Gavin

Andrea Smith

The news that he had a new baby sister had a profound effect on Will Dalton. The six-year-old promptly burst into tears as he already had an older sister, Ciara, and was hoping to have a brother to play football with. Happily, new arrival Sinead was also sports-mad, so it wasn't a complete disaster. "Sinead used to follow me everywhere," he recalls, "but we always got on very well. She was good fun to be around."

Will (36) and Sinead (30) grew up in Greystones and say that their mum Breda and late dad Joe were fantastic parents."Family always came first for them," says Will. "I played Gaelic football and soccer and was on four teams, and they always came to matches to support me."

Sinead says that she and Will have a competitive streak, while their older sister Ciara is more laid-back. They both currently work for Virgin Media Television, Will as a sports presenter and Sinead as assistant producer on the Elaine show.

Even at school, they were the only siblings to be head boy and head girl at St David's in Greystones, albeit six years apart. They are also both godparents to their beloved 11-month-old nephew Joseph, born to their sister Ciara and her partner Ross.

"While Will gives off an air of, 'Ah she's just my little sister', he has always been there for me and has given me good advice on my career," says Sinead. "If I was freaking out about something, I'd always go to him."

When it comes to dating, Sinead says that recently single Will never listens to her own great advice, while he jokes that he has to vet her boyfriends. She has been dating teacher Darren for the past seven months so he has obviously passed the test.

"When I went to my first disco, Mum sent Will down to keep an eye on me and I kissed a boy just to annoy him," laughs Sinead. "His girlfriend at the time nearly had to pull him off the dance floor and he didn't speak to me in the car going home."

A huge sadness for the close siblings was the loss of their dad Joe, who passed away in 2004 aged 56 from a sudden heart attack, and who had a great, adventurous spirit. An executive salesman who had just retired the week before, he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer the previous year but he had received the all-clear. "He dropped me to my part-time job and Sinead to school, and when Mum came home, she found him collapsed in the garden," says Will. "It was very shocking and something like that makes you grow up very fast."

Their mum, they say, is wonderful and can't do enough for the family.

Will followed his degree with a postgrad in journalism and media communications. With a bit of work experience at various stations under his belt, he successfully got a job with ITN working for Setanta Sports News. Breda and Sinead accompanied him to London for the interview -mainly so they could go shopping - and Sinead cheekily asked him to inquire if they had any part-time jobs for her? "Well if you don't ask…" she laughs.

Will got the job and moved to London, but the station went under after a year and a half. He has enjoyed continuous freelance work with Chelsea TV since 2010 and has reported live from matches for Premier League Productions since 2010, working there a couple of days per week. Working for both ITV News and Reuters has allowed him to report on other sports, and he was thrilled to begin working with Virgin Media Sport in Ireland back in September, presenting its Champions League, Europa League and Nations League coverage. "It's been a joy to work on and it's lovely to do something back in Ireland," he says.

Going back and forth between Ireland and the UK every week doesn't faze him, and he has interviewed top names in sport like Pele, Andy Murray, Jose Mourinho and Steven Gerrard. He has also reported from the past three Olympic Games.

After a degree in theology and English at All Hallows, Sinead went to Australia for two years. She taught children there and also wrote for a paper in St Kilda. She then completed a master's in journalism and media communications, and her TV career began when she worked as a runner on Ireland AM, while also reading news on Spin and 98fm.

Having gained experience on news and Xpose, Sinead progressed to Midday, which evolved into the lively 3pm daily weekday panel show, Elaine, two years ago. Presented and produced by Elaine Crowley, Sinead and Kelly Edmonds are assistant producers.

"It's a fantastic team and Elaine is great to work for," says Sinead. "The panellists and guests are fab, and while it's great fun, I feel we've made a real impact with the subjects we cover."

"Sinead is really thoughtful and is excellent at what she does, although she lacks confidence in herself at times," says Will. "She's really well respected and has a great work ethic and doesn't know how good she is. She's really into supernatural stuff and horror, and is even on the team of Paranormal Researchers Ireland. I don't know where that came from as she was really squeamish as a child."

The talented siblings enjoy working on the same channel, although Sinead loves that she was there first. "It has always been, 'Oh you're Will's little sister' so it's great that people are now going. 'Oh you're Sinead's brother?," she says. "Will is very caring and I adore his confidence and assertiveness. I still try to annoy him as much as possible, of course."


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