Friday 19 April 2019

Lyndsey lives her dreams

Dubs GAA star Lyndsey Davey talks to Ken Phelan about her twin careers on the pitch as an All-Ireland winner and as an airport firefighter

Three-times All-Star women's GAA player and Skerries native Lyndsey Davey, now just 28 years old and a veteran of the Dublin GAA team, is a woman of many talents.

Not content with being an icon in GAA, she is also a mentor, professional firefighter and a campaigner on water safety.

Joining Skerries Harps at five years old, Lyndsey has played GAA for most of her life, honing her skills both on the boys and girls teams before moving on to the seniors at just 15 years of age.

Winning her first All-Star the following year, she puts this down to having trained on the boys team from such an early age.

Thirteen years on from making her Dublin debut, Lyndsey won her third All-Ireland title earlier this year.

Though she's now considering retirement, she has, she says, not come to a decision yet, as GAA is still a 'massive' part of her life.

Lyndsey recently took part in an AIG Ireland Heroes event in Croke Park, an initiative which brought local kids in to meet their idols, build on self-confidence, practice some crucial skills and learn the importance of sport in their lives.

Speaking to The Fingal Independent from a RNLI GAA water safety event in Southampton, Lyndsey explains what happened on the AIG Ireland Heroes day: 'It was basically a corporate social responsibility event to bring in some of the local schools from the area to encourage the kids to get involved in sports.

'So we had Gaelic, hurling and camogie, and the Dublin players and All Blacks were available to answer questions and do some skills work with them as well.

'It was all about getting the kids in and showing them positive role models, getting them involved in sports and building on their self-confidence.

'After the activities on the pitch, the kids were brought up for a Q&A with all the players, so it was a great afternoon for them.'

She says: 'The kids could do 20 minutes each doing different skills, then were rotated around.

'I was involved on the Gaelic side of it. It was myself and Nicole Owens from the ladies side of things, then we had James McCarthy from then men's side, and the All Blacks as well.

'I would've done similar events like that one over the years with them."

The kids got to meet all the county players and got to learn new skills, so it was a very enjoyable day for them.

'I know from getting feedback that the kids were really excited meeting all the Dublin players and the All Blacks, so it was great.'

Coming from a GAA family herself, Lyndsey joined the nursery camp of Skerries Harps at five years old.

The sport was, she says, very much encouraged in the family, and something she took to straight away.

Because there was no girls team at the time, Lyndsey joined the boys team before a girls team was set up some years later: 'There was no girls team at the time, so I would have played with the boys up until under 12s.

'Sinead Cullen would have played alongside me as well, and we were the only two girls on the team.

'It got to the stage on the team that we couldn't play with the boys any more, so the club went and got a ladies team up and running.

'I was delighted, because if there wasn't a ladies team, I would have had to move to a different club.

'The ladies teams are actually bigger than the boys teams now, so it's really grown over the past number of years.

'We now have two new ladies teams in the club at the moment which is fantastic.

'I think it was from playing with the boys that my skill level improved, and I think it was one of the reasons why I was able to join the Dublin senior team at such a young age.


'I was 15 when I first got on to the senior team, so I think playing with the boys was a big factor in me being able to do that.'

Lyndsey, who is one of three nominees for the 2018 TG4 Senior Players' Player of the Year award, says it was 'definitely intimidating' joining the seniors, but that players such as Martina Farrell, who 'took me under her wing', were fantastic in showing encouragement and offering their support.

She says that getting 'back-to-back' All Ireland wins last year was a 'fantastic achievement', adding 'To finally get over the line against Cork in front of 50,000 people was just brilliant, and a very special occasion to be part of.'

Despite all the success, Lyndsey is now considering leaving the sport, for a number of reasons.

Work commitments, injuries and the strain of training so hard are all factors she says she'll have to weigh up this winter, before deciding on her future in the game: 'I was very happy with my performance this year.

'I think last year I had a couple of injuries that put me out for the season, and I kinda only got back just before the quarter final last year.

'Thankfully, this year has been injury-free, which has been fantastic, because obviously when you're out injured you're not able to train. But I didn't have as many issues this year.

'I haven't decided about retiring, as I need to think about it.

'There's a few things in the pipeline I have to consider, but I haven't made a decision.

'There are different things at work and stuff that I have to think about, but we'll see what happens.'

She says: 'I've been playing senior since I was fifteen, and obviously it's a big commitment with work.

'That can be tough, and also with your injuries, you get tired every year and it just makes it tougher, but we'll wait and see what happens.

'GAA has been a massive part of my life over the years so it definitely would be a difficult decision to make to just walk away.

'I'm just enjoying the off-season at the moment, then I'll decide.'

Long before she became a Dublin footballer, Lyndsey had another dream she aspired to.

Since 2015, she has worked as a firefighter with Dublin Airport Fire Service, and was the only female recruit in a class of sixteen.

Although not the only female in the service, she is the only female in her crew, but nevertheless enjoys working with 'a great bunch of lads.'

She says: 'I have to say, I love it.

'The nature of the job is that you never know what's going to happen next, which is great.

'Obviously we specialise in aviation emergencies, but with the airport being as big as it is, you'd also be looking after the terminals, parks, and other areas as well.

'I don't mind being the only girl on the crew, to be honest.

'You just kind of get on with it.

'I work with a great bunch of lads, and they're all kind of like your family.

'We all get on really well, so it definitely makes the job more enjoyable.'

The Skerries Harps player explains that without the support of her fire crew colleagues, her football career would be impossible: 'There's a lot of planning and organising in balancing the job and playing, because you have your football schedule and your work schedule, and you have to make sure they don't overlap.

'So you're organising swaps in work and things like that. A couple of the lads would cover or stay back late for me.

'If it wasn't for the lads supporting me, I wouldn't be able to play county football for as long as I have, so I'm very lucky to be working with them.'

Working with two great teams, no matter what the future holds, Lyndsey will doubtlessly go on to achieve great things.

Having made her mark on the pitch and found her dream job, she has achieved every ambition she's ever had and will have new goals to set once she makes the difficult decision to hang up the football boots, whenever that turns out to be.

Whether it's with GAA or the fire service in Dublin Airport, she will always be an All Star.

Fingal Independent