In 2017, Sinead Aherne captained the Dublin football team that claimed all Ireland Victory. In November she picked up her 6th All Star award, making her the most decorated Dublin All-Star recipient in history. In short, shes a badass.
At Shona, we are passionate about girls getting and staying involved in sport (sorry to keep harping on about it but y’know, we care) so we asked Sinead for a chat to find out what helped her to become the legend she is……
So Sinead, we see lots of girls dropping out of sport during the teenage years, what was different for you?
Well, my parents were always very supportive and I also grew up with other kids in my area who played so they were all like minded and driven to build a strong team. When that happens you also build a bond which you come to rely on as a support system.
Was there ever a time when you might have considered dropping out, when it became a challenge?
I think that the time where most people would start to drop out or when it might become a challenge is around Leaving Cert time. The management that I had at that time were really good in looking out for us. They made sure that we were focused on our studies but still gave us opportunities to play. I found it a great balancing factor to get out and about, and do exercise. Its was really good for the mind and I was also seeing my friends three or four times a week so it was fun for me.
You’re a qualified accountant, did you ever feel that being a girl, that sport was less of a career option for you?
Certainly men have more opportunities from a career point of view in terms of having a profile and that edge, but I think that its changing for women. GAA is unlikely to ever provide you with a career as such and while it can get open some doors for you, you need to have a plan for your own future.
Who were your heroes growing up?
Unfortunately, there weren’t too many household names when I was growing up. I admired Martina Farrell for sure, and also Katie Taylor and Derval O’Rourke. Again, I hope that is starting to change now, and interest in womens GAA is growing slowly but surely.
What advice would you give a young girl who loves to play any sport, but is facing into teenage life and all that that entails?
Firstly, don’t feel pressure to conform. Playing sport is good for you physically, but its also a great network and your team becomes your support system.
Be strong enough to be your own person, you won’t enjoy yourself if you’re not being authentic.
Great advice indeed, thanks for the chat Aisling, and all the best for the 2018 season.