Friday, October 2, 2015

Review and giveaway of "Six Nations, Two Stories"

Niamh Briggs and Paul O' Connell with their 2015 6Nations Trophies at Thomond. PIC Inpho via

Irish rugby has been having a moment across the men’s and women’s codes with trophies popping up everywhere. The buzz of the 2015 6Nations wins have been captured in a new book which flips between interviews with the amateur women players and the professional men’s team, and it’s a cracker of a read.

Written by journalists Kate Rowan and Peter O’ Reilly,  "Six Nations, Two Stories" is an insightful look at the differences between the older, financially lucrative men’s game and the upstart women’s game. And the one stand-out similarity: passion.

So what did I learn?

  • Nora Stapleton on ‘alickadoos’: the men’s sport is built on an old-boys and old- school tradition. She says women’s rugby is different. “It is your community, your club, your friends and it is where you want to hang out.” 

  • Coach Tom Tierney on ‘training age’: women come to the sport at different ages and from different sports so there isn’t that uniformity of experience you have in the men’s game. 

  • Niamh Briggs on team spirit: she gets her own chapter in the book but stresses how much other players contribute, and names who else should be in there. 

  • Luke Fitzgerald on resilience: Boom! one week you’re in the team, next Monday morning you’ve had a crap game and Boom! You’re back to the start. 

You can read an extract on where Kate Tyrell talks about overcoming an eating disorder with help from her team-mates and sport.

Want to read more? Tell me in 150 words or less why you love playing or watching women’s rugby to win a paperback copy.

You can leave a comment here below, or on real girl sport Facebook or just plain old email me:
realgirlsport (at) gmail (dot) com

Lines open (so to speak) until Saturday October 10th.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Before the game All Ireland ladies football

The sound of singing drifting down the lanes around Croke Park was the first sign something different was happening yesterday. The pubs were quiet but the scarves-and-headbands men were doing well.

If you’re thinking that sounds loud, that’s because it was loud with 31,083 bums on seats for three GAA ladies football matches; the highest attendance for any women’s sporting event in Europe this year.  But it was Before the Game which interested me. It was still to play for, and anyone can dream of lifting that cup.

Lines of young girls chattering and singing streamed out of endless buses. The atmosphere was more like a giant school-tour than a serious tournament until I understood how far people had come for their teams.

One Tyrone club come every year, regardless of who is playing, their coach said. He jokingly referred to himself as a feminist but who needs a label when you’re driving the future of women’s sport around?

Waterford fans came racing in to catch their team, not the main event according to the programme but try telling them that.

Club after club arrived from Cork with red and white flags flying and the woolly headbands being twisted around their heads. Fuelled by sugar and excitement, the singing was just beginning.

Dubs came with their families and in teams- one club starting a sing-song outside the Cusack stadium. A tiny Cork boy strolling past produced an almighty roar of Up the Rebels only to be drowned out by a sea of blue shouting back. All in good fun of course ...

I came too late to meet any Scots. Yes, Scots – a team from Scotland took to the field to play against Co Louth in the Junior All-Ireland final. 

And now typing this up not too far from Croke Park, I can hear lines of girls still singing as they make their way home. The matches are over, but their memories are just beginning.

For full results and write-ups see
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