Sinéad Burke (30) All Star

Galway and Ballyboden St Enda’s Ladies Football

At what age did you start playing? I think I was about 7 when I started with the club in Oughterard. I played with the underage boys team until I was about 12.

Do you remember your first game? I remember my first game with the Galway Seniors. I was 17 and it was in a league final against Mayo in Hyde Park. I came on at some stage in the second half.

Ideal position and why? I don’t really have an ideal position I have kind of played everywhere on the pitch, started off in the forwards and when they discovered I couldn’t score I got promoted (or demoted ) to the backs and have loved playing there since.

Did you also aspire to play at the top level? Yes, I always enjoyed the competitive aspects involved with playing for your county and enjoyed the challenge of it. Over the years I have seen the game make huge strides in terms of coverage and professionalism and I can only feel excited for all the younger girls involved in the sport and what is yet to come for the next generation of ladies footballers in Galway.

What do you particularly like about your sport? I enjoy being around girls that have the same interests as myself. Being involved with a group that shares the same goal is special and every individual has a role and part to play.

Greatest influence/role model? When I was in school I looked up to Niamh Fahey. She was playing with the Galway Senior ladies and won an All Ireland in 2004, and of course the girls who won the All Ireland that year were a huge reason I had such an interest in the sport. I would have loved to experience the success that they had. Niamh had a great attitude to sport, always encouraging and bringing the best out of her teammates, and she has gone on to be an excellent Irish female role model for young girls in sport.

Biggest challenge to date? Balancing work, life, and football. It takes a little bit of practice trying to juggle everything, but once you get a handle on it and things are going well with football, it makes it all worthwhile.

Favourite memory? The most recent memory I have was the feeling after winning against Mayo in the semi-final in 2019 and the thought of competing in an All Ireland final. It was a great day because of the result and because it would be our first time playing in Croke Park.

Fiercest opponent/s? We always found Cork a tough opposition and found it difficult to get a win over them in the past. It’s always a good battle between Mayo and ourselves come Connacht final time. The toughest individuals I have come up against would have been Dublin’s Sinead Aherne or Mayo’s Cora Staunton.

Strengths/weaknesses? I guess I am very competitive and really dislike losing. I can be physical and this can sometimes be a weakness too because I can get carried away and concede frees.

If you were not playing your sport, what sport would you want to play? I used to love basketball when I was younger so that would have probably been the sport I would be playing if I wasn’t playing GAA, but being 5’5" didn’t help!!

What do you do to relax? At the minute I have being doing a bit of running and have been enjoying that. Having the time to do classes at home like yoga and Pilates has kept me busy too, and it’s been great to get the chance to try different classes or forms of exercise.

Favourite sports person? I have recently been watching The Last Dance, the documentary on Michael Jordan’s career. I loved watching him while I was growing up, but only appreciate now what an incredible athlete he was. He is a very likeable sportsperson and it was interesting to get an insight into his life, his determination to win, and how hard working he was throughout his career was amazing to see. There are lots of amazing female sports people too, the likes of Sonia O’Sullivan and Katie Taylor have been huge influences on my sporting career.

Best/worst aspect of lockdown? Best thing about lockdown is slowing down the pace of our hectic lives and just having the time to concentrate on the important things. The worst aspect of lockdown is not being is not being able to get to Galway to see my family and friends.


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