Dublin ladies star, Niamh Collins knows all too well the importance of the 20×20 movement. After all, had she not seen Dublin lose an All-Ireland final, she may never have gone on to win it.
Collins can relate to the motto ‘if she can’t see it, she can’t be it’ more than most having been inspired to play for Dublin whilst sitting in the stands 15 years ago as they lost an All-Ireland final to Mayo.
“The 20×20 movement is so important, people ask me when I was a kid did I look up to the Dublin men, and yes, of course I did, but my memories as a kid wanting to play for Dublin came from the 2003 All-Ireland ladies final where Mayo beat Dublin in the final by a last minute goal and I was heartbroken,
“I knew then that I wanted to be playing for Dublin one day, and here I am 15 years later playing for Dublin, so it affected me, because to use the tag line, you need to see it before you do it, it’s really important.”
Collins has welcomed all the work going on within the initiative which was set up to try and improve Ireland’s cultural perception of women’s sport.
She is well aware of the responsibility that comes with being part of a successful Dublin ladies side and how they can use their platform to help steer more young women into the sport.
“We try to do as much as possible with the kids, we have open sessions that they are able to come along too, as part of a fundraiser for us we do training days where we go and coach the kids and get to know them.
“You know there are groups of girls that come to all our matches and while the 50,000 is unbelievable and long may it continue (All-Ireland final attendance), there’s a certain band of supporters that come from February right up until September, so, you are doing it for those girls who absolutely love us and love the sport, so hopefully they will be stepping into the team one day.”
The half-back was in a joyous mood at the eir sport launch of this year’s Allianz League, despite the fact that only last month she lost a second All-Ireland senior final with her club, Foxrock-Cabinteely.
However long the season ended up being for Collins, and despite it ending on a sour note, upon reflection, she views 2018 as a fruitful year where plenty of memories where made.
“It was nearly a 12 month season, between coming back in with Dublin in January to a disappointing end with Fox-Cab in December.
“But it was a long season, a very fruitful season, a brilliant time, and while we didn’t get the whole way with Fox-Cab, it was still a great achievement we’ve got four Leinster’s in a row. A long year but a great year.”
For Collins, she knows all too well what the pain of losing an All-Ireland final is like having lost five of them throughout her career, however, she is adamant that losing in those big games only drives you on to get back there again.
“If you think about all the All-Ireland finals I’ve lost, it’s five.
“It’s a tough thing to roll back from, but it just makes you want it more at the end of the day, losing an All-Ireland final is very difficult and you take a lot from it but it actually does just make you want to go back and do it again, it can knock you for a bit, but at the end of the day, it drives you forward.”
Looking ahead to 2019, the announcement was made last week that Dublin ladies will play two of their league games in Croke Park this year, with both acting as curtain raisers before the men’s game.
Collins is excited at the prospect of having two big games in Croke Park early in the year admitting that there is different energy playing at the iconic venue.
“The Croke Park games are really important and they’ve only materialised in the last three years.
“They bring a different kind of energy to the league because the league can sometimes be seen as a preamble to the championship,
“But it is its own thing in itself, it’s preparation for everything, it’s getting everyone back in together, preparing for the year ahead,
“And having Croke Park games does bring a different energy to it, we as players are super excited about it, it’s a different kind of challenge.”
eir sport announced yesterday details of its Allianz Leagues coverage for 2019, while also confirming it will broadcast two games from the Lidl Ladies National Football League. In total eir sport will broadcast fifteen live games in the coming months with up to three live matches available to GAA fans some weekends. The coverage begins on January 26th on the home of live GAA on Saturday nights under lights. Pictured yesterday is Dublin’s, Niamh Collins.