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A Quick 18 with Cork GAA legend Valerie Mulcahy - 'I swore I wouldn’t put pressure on myself when I took up golf'

Cork GAA legend Valerie Mulcahy on her love of the game

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Golfing fun: Valerie (left) with Jacqui Hurley and Cliodhna O’Connor

Golfing fun: Valerie (left) with Jacqui Hurley and Cliodhna O’Connor

Valerie Mulcahy

Valerie Mulcahy

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Golfing fun: Valerie (left) with Jacqui Hurley and Cliodhna O’Connor

Cork’s Valerie Mulcahy will be remembered as one of the greatest Gaelic footballers of her generation. Not only did she win ten all Ireland titles and nine Ladies’ National Football Leagues, she was a six-time All Star and a true pioneer for women’s Gaelic games as one of the founding members of the Women’s Gaelic Players’ Association.

She’s now retired from GAA but her love of sport and camaraderie has not gone away and this week she was at Galgorm Castle and Massereene to tee it up in the pro-am for the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics and make a date with Leona Maguire for a friendly game this summer.

Looking back, she has few sporting regrets but she does look at the great support offered to the new generation and wishes she was starting her career all over again.

1. How’s your golf?

I’m a novice. Consistency is so important in golf and I don’t have that yet. I could do something amazing and then I could have eight shots  on the very next hole. I love it though.

2. How did you get started in the game?

A friend of mine, Elaine Burke used to play and I went out with her and then my Mam started playing. I always loved golf but it only came on my radar seriously when I retired from playing GAA.

3. Choose your weapon. Driver or putter?

Oh driver at the moment. I have decent length and I can hit it down the middle. My decent shots aren’t bad.

4. Links or parkland?

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Maybe links. I love Ceann Sibeal and I played Waterville ten years ago, before I really started playing golf. But I played the Cashen Course at Ballybunion recently and I must have lost a dozen balls. I love the look of links but I find it quite challenging at the moment. Maybe my golf is not quite ready yet.

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Valerie Mulcahy

Valerie Mulcahy

Valerie Mulcahy

5. When where you happiest on the golf course?

There is a group of us and we call ourselves the Gloryholes Golf Society (laughs) so we have a bit of craic. Myself, Jacqui Hurley, Emma O’Driscoll and my partner Nicci Daly try to get out and play a bit for fun. For International Women’s Day, Jacqui organised a big group of us to have an outing at Druids Glen and Golf Ireland helped out. So we are going to make that a yearly thing. I love the social element of it all.

6. Who was your sporting hero growing up?

Sonia O’Sullivan because she was from Cork and she was probably the only female sportsperson around who had any visibility. So it was probably Sonia and a few years ago we were on a panel together and I got to hang out and chat with her, which was lovely.

7. What did you admire about her?

It was just that she was from Cork and for her to achieve so much on the world stage and in the Olympic Games was just amazing and an inspiration to me as a little girl. Not that I was into running! Then when I met her, she was just such a lovely person.

8. What’s your golfing
ambition?

When I took up golf, I swore to myself I wouldn’t put the pressure on myself that I did when I was playing football. It is just so demanding to play at a high level and you put a lot of pressure on yourself. I’d just like to get better and maybe enter a few competitions. I’ve already had a lesson from Fred Twomey, who is the head pro in Muskerry and hopefully I can develop a bit more consistency and just have fun.

9. Name your dream fourball.

I was going to say Graham Norton, just for the craic. But he mightn’t be that great for the golf. So I’d choose Rachel Blackmore, Serena Williams and Leona Maguire. And if we are allowed caddies, I’d take Nicci Daly, Leah Williamson, Jacqui Hurley and Emma O’Driscoll and that would be a great day out.

10. If you could change
something about women’s GAA, what would it be?

If there was a lot of persistent team fouling, after five team fouls I’d introduce a black card. I know there’s a black card already but this might sort out the team fouling anyway. 

11. If I gave you a mulligan in life, what would it be?

In sport, I can’t really complain but if I could start again now, when there are so many more opportunities for women in sport, that would be my mulligan. I’d relish starting my career now when players have more support on and off the pitch.

Twenty years ago it was different. But then again I was part of the women’s GPA as a founding member so it was nice to be part of helping things to change too.

12. If you had just one more round to play, where would it be? Don’t say Augusta National unless you absolutely must.

I’d stick with Cork and head for the Old Head of Kinsale. It must be one of the most spectacular courses in the world.

13. What’s your favourite par-three?

I love a few of the par threes in Edmondstown, where Nicci is an honorary member. But if I had to choose one, I’d go with the 15th at Muskerry. It’s short but it’s challenging so that’s the one.

14. If you could change something about yourself what would it be?

To be more comfortable about who I was when I was younger and accept my uniqueness. or maybe that should be my mulligan. But look, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I guess I just wish I were younger. If I’d taken up golf earlier, I could be a pro by now (laughs).

15. What’s your most
treasured possession?

There are so many photographs I have that I treasure. And then there are the All Ireland medals. I’d hate to lose those. Oh, and I also have my football boot collection. I have eight pairs. Most of them are from All Irelands but I have some I kept from childhood too.

16. If you could change something about your game, what would it be?

Just my consistency. I wish I had more consistency. My chipping needs a lot of work.

17. Who is your favourite golfer of all time?

I love Shane Lowry. He’s a nice guy and he has kept his character. He hasn’t changed. And he’s good for the GAA as well. He keeps in contact with his community.

18. What’s your idea of perfect happiness?

Being content in yourself, positivity, kindness and having good company.


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