EVERYTHING IS ON the up, says Dublin star Carla Rowe.
Recent positive developments have ladies football in a good place, she believes.
In the past few weeks, major news has been announced with male and female inter-county players set for equal Government funding, while matchday travel expenses will be covered through the Lidl Ladies National Football League.
The recent GPA merger is another landmark move, with strides made off the pitch now starting to match those made on it.
It must be said that the standard of the game has risen a huge amount, with Mick Bohan’s Dublin front and centre to that rise, placing much more emphasis on basic skills, as ever-increasing physicality, speed and intensity make it it a much more attractive game to watch.
Media coverage and sponsorship has also increased ten-fold, resulting in higher interest and improving attendances. Everything certainly is on the up.
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“The LGFA and Lidl coming in there is kind of hand-in-hand, the development has been unbelievable,” Rowe nods. “Between just exposure alone, and the WGPA, looking to increase the support around the sport for females.
“We’re looking to constantly raise the bar and as we raise the bar obviously, we hope that everything else follows — along with other teams raising the bar — and if we keep doing that, we keep developing our game which is fantastic.”
While Dublin open their Division 1 league campaign against Waterford at Parnell Park this weekend, they will grace the turf of Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the first time on 29 May.
It’s the first time a Sky Blues ladies team will line out at the Leeside venue, and it’s an opportunity Rowe is relishing as they face arch-rivals Cork. — along with, pivotally, another step in the right direction.
“It’s brilliant. I suppose levelling the playing field probably jumps into my mind, the fact that we haven’t been there before, you’d scratch your head and wonder why, it’s so many years we’ve been around but for us to be here, it’s all about development and looking forward and taking positives.
“Very excited, can’t wait to get down and see it and I know it is a fantastic stadium so looking forward to playing there and, again, a closer step to having a level playing field.”
“That’s what we want,” she adds. “As ladies footballers, footballers, in those big stadiums, we want as many big games as we can in the Croke Parks, in the Páirc Uí Chaoimhs, Semple Stadium and to be starting the year in big venues is a standard bearer and that’s where we want to be.”
2020 Footballer of the Year nominee Rowe also offered an update on Sinéad Goldrick’s injury, as the seven-time All-Star currently rehabilitates in Australia.
The Melbourne FC Aussie Rules star underwent surgery on a hamstring injury in late March and missed the close of the AFLW season, but Dublin are “hopeful” of having her back in the fold at some stage soon.
Goldrick in action for Melbourne.
Source: AAP/PA Images
“A bit of an update that she’s doing her rehab so working away strongly at that and obviously 100% committed to it so not too much but that’s positive for now,” Rowe said.
“We’re not sure of a date, I’m not sure of a date myself of when she’s coming home because for now I’m just personally focusing on getting myself ready but for now, I think it’s positive enough that she’s rehabbing away and hopefully that gives her enough time.
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“It is a tight timeframe but we’d be hopeful,” she added, with their other AFLW players Lauren Magee and Niamh McEvoy — who recently called time on her Melbourne stint — back in harness:
“We had Lauren and Niamh in there at the weekend so that’s two in which is brilliant and a huge addition to the team so, yeah, we’re looking forward to getting back training with them.”
Looking at the set-up elsewhere, Rowe hailed their “phenomenal” captain fantastic Sinéad Aherne, and also had some kind words for new vice-skipper Niamh Collins.
Foxrock-Cabinteely ace Collins is one of the best — but under-rated — defenders in the game, Rowe agrees.
“Yeah, 100%. Mick even said it this week, she brings that doggedness, that willingness to get down into the dirt and do the dirty work which you need in your team and if you have a leader that’s doing that then everyone else will follow.
“So fantastic for Niamh, I’m delighted for her because she’s put in an incredible number of years with Dublin and has always contributed so well to the team and her leadership is brilliant so definitely one that is completely underrated.
“But we know what she brings to us as a team and as a panel member so looking forward to hearing and being led by her and Sinéad.”