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Heroes can inspire a new generation

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Dublin fan Yvonne Clarke from Coolock

Dublin fan Yvonne Clarke from Coolock

Dublin fan Yvonne Clarke from Coolock

The roar of "Dublin" from the voices of little girls filled Croke Park yesterday as the Girls in Blue became heroes for a new generation of supporters.

A record-breaking 50,141 fans were at GAA HQ for a display of grit and determination.

The numbers attending were even higher than last year, when the 46,286 crowd broke records to become the highest attended women's sports final in 2017.

By comparison, the figure was 34,445 in 2016, the women's game growing by the year.

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Young fans Hannah Carroll, Lauren McHugh and Nina Bradley,from Blackrock.

Young fans Hannah Carroll, Lauren McHugh and Nina Bradley,from Blackrock.

Young fans Hannah Carroll, Lauren McHugh and Nina Bradley,from Blackrock.

More fans turned out yesterday than the 49,496 at the men's All-Ireland semi-final between Tyrone and Monaghan.

Dublin and Cork put on an almighty show for the supporters attending the All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football final.

Tense

Dublin defeated the Rebelettes 3-11 to 1-12 as the crowd roared their appreciation when Dubs captain Sinead Aherne lifted the Brendan Martin Cup.

The two sides proved equal rivals in the first half, but the Jackies dominated in the second to make it two-in-a-row.

John Harrington (39) told the Herald he took his daughter Saorla (5) and son Cashel (8) along with their cousin Aoife Harrington to the game to ensure the female children in his family "know all about women's football; this is for girl power".

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Dublin fan Yvonne Clarke from Coolock

Dublin fan Yvonne Clarke from Coolock

Dublin fan Yvonne Clarke from Coolock

John, from Fairview, said: "It's important for little girls to have heroines and at a young age children are always looking for role models, so that's what the Dublin team are for little girls all over the city."

Grandmother Connie Doyle (53), from Coolock, north Dublin, got into the spirit dressing as a life-sized blue troll, to the amusement of her granddaughter Hada, almost two.

Hada's mother, Ciara Doyle (25), said: "Hada never really had a choice but to be a Dubs fan.

"This is her first match. It's in our family's blood and as you can see from my mother, she is die-hard. She brought me to games as soon as I was born.

"That's the family Hada has been born into. Mum has the house painted blue. That's how mad our family is for Dublin, but it was really important for me that my daughter's first game was Dublin women's football."

Yvonne Clarke, also from Coolock, dressed head to toe in blue, including Dubs trainers.

The grandmother-of-three is passionate over women's and men's football - and hurling.

"It's everything for Dublin to win. I travel all over the country to every match I can with a group of friends," she said.

"I'm so proud to be a Dubliner. I love my city and that's what Dublin GAA is about."

Alma Flynn, from Clonsilla, attended the game with her husband Dave and children Lucy and Thomas.

"My daughter Lucy started school last week and this is her first football match," she said.

"It was very important for me as a mother to bring my daughter to see the Dublin women's GAA team play.

"I know there's an awful lot of mothers doing the same with their little girls.

Growing

"Women's sport is growing massively in Ireland, especially after the hockey team won silver in the World Cup."

Deirdre Sheridan, from Lusk, Co Dublin, and who now lives in Kells, Co Meath, dressed her five-month-old baby daughter Dara in a half-Meath, half-Dublin shirt for her first game.

Her older children John (4) and Orlath (2) excitedly learned about the Jackies and their rise to football fame.

Deirdre, who was at the match with her sister Niamh Hurley, a former All-Ireland winner with Dublin in 2010, said: "It was really important for us to be here as a family.

"We have been involved in ladies' football for a long time and it is just great to see such a huge crowd out supporting the women."

Regardless of Dublin's glory, many agreed the real winners were women, mothers and especially little girls.

The attendance at Croke Park was bigger than all previous Senior Ladies Football finals and showed how the women's game has captured hearts and minds.


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