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A quick 18 with Sinéad Aherne: ‘The level of physicality has gone up’

Right now, I am frustrated with the charging rule in the women’s game”

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Sinead Aherne

Sinead Aherne

Sinead Aherne

Sinéad Aherne is one of the most decorated Gaelic footballers of her generation.

A five-time All Ireland winner, she rates Dublin’s 2010 win as one the most memorable moments of her storied career.

But as a chartered accountant with KPMG, she knows all about the numbers game too and having taken up the game alongside her father when she was a child, she rates the feeling of getting out to play a few holes in the fresh air as a close second to the elation she feels the morning after winning an All Ireland title.

1. How was your golf? Recently it’s been alright. I need to get out more than I can, but my training schedule dictates how much I play. I was out playing Corballis a few times recently, and it’s a lovely course.

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Sinead Aherne Angela Walsh

Sinead Aherne Angela Walsh

Sinead Aherne Angela Walsh

2. How did you get started in the game? My Dad, Redmond, is a keen golfer. So I used to play a lot with him in Beaverstown or at Malahide on the par-three course. That’s where I took my first steps in the game. I would have gotten my first set of clubs when I was 10 or 11.

3. Choose your weapon. Driver or putter? And why? The putter. My driving could use a bit of work. I am not very long and you can lose a lot of shots on the greens, so I’d be happy to be a more proficient putter than a great driver of the ball.

4. Links or parkland? Why? Parkland because I tend to lose fewer golf balls.

5. When were you happiest on the golf course? Going out with my Mum or Dad when I was a kid in Malahide. I’ve always loved the freedom of being able to get out in the fresh air, and it’s a great game to play with people of all ages. That’s the beauty of golf.

6. Who’s your sporting hero? At the moment, we are fortunate to have such great female athletes such as Katie Taylor. And we have the women’s rugby team doing well the last few years. With Rachel Blackmore and Leona Maguire up there as well, it’s fantastic. It was great to see Leona get her first win and she was unbelievable in the Solheim Cup last year. The whole country was tuned in to that.

7. Name an opponent or rival you especially admire and why. We played Cork for so many years when I came into the scene and they were the team to beat. I think I had a good few tussles with the likes of Angela Walsh over the years. She was a pretty tough competitor, and her positional awareness and the physicality she brought to the game made her extremely competitive.

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8. What’s your golfing ambition? Do you have one? I’d like to be able to get better at driving the ball.

9. Name your dream fourball (they don’t have to be golfers). And name the venue. The Masters is fantastic, and I’d probably butcher the course, but could you imagine going around Augusta with Leona Maguire, Kellie Harrington and Niamh McEvoy from the Dubs. Niamh’s a good golfer and she’s a good friend of mine and she’s recently retired.

10. If you could change something about GAA, what would it be? Right now, I am frustrated with the charging rule in the women’s game. I honestly can’t figure out how it is being refereed from game to game. It has just become a feature of the game that teams are now playing for. The level of physicality has gone up but officiating is still very much catching up, I feel.

11 If I gave you a mulligan in your GAA career, what would it be? The big miss? In 2014 we were about 10 points up in an All Ireland final against Cork and conspired to lose that one. That was the first of three losses in finals in a row. We just didn’t continue to play our game but fell into playing on their terms. We didn’t manage to stay calm and get ourselves out of trouble. But we came back and won four in a row after that.

12 If you had just one more round to play, where would it be? The K Club.

13 What’s your favourite club in your bag? My four hybrid.

14 If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Doesn’t have to be about golf. I wish I was a better golfer (laughs).

15 What’s your most treasured possession (golfing or otherwise)? If there was a fire, I have a few photo collages of my football career I’d save. And my All Ireland medals, of course. The first one in 2010 was special and 2017, after losing three finals in a row, also means a lot.

16 If you could change something about your golf, what would it be? I’d change my strong left-hand grip. I tend to pull it or hook it. But I guess I’d just like to be a bit more consistent.

17 Who’s your favourite golfer of all time? Why? I really enjoy watching Shane Lowry. I love his carefree attitude. He’s fun to watch. I really enjoy watching matchplay and he was great in the Ryder Cup.

18 What’s your idea of perfect happiness? Monday morning after winning the All Ireland. It’s terrible to wake up after losing it, but when you’ve won and you wake up, those first few seconds of realising what you have done are special. It’s the first time you get a moment to yourself to reflect on what you have done. It’s a great feeling.


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