‘You do doubt yourself… but when you sign up, you know there’s going to be highs and lows’

September 21, 2021 0 By HearthstoneYarns

A NEW DAWN, a new day.

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2018 is in the past, 2019 is a new year. A blank canvas, a fresh slate, an empty cabinet.

Dublin star Sinéad Goldrick.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“You haven’t won anything, you haven’t earned anything and that’s the mindset that we have,” Sinéad Goldrick tells The42, excitement shining through her infectious smile as back-to-back All-Ireland champions Dublin prepare to defend their Division 1 league title. “You can’t sit on your laurels because that was last year.”

Goldrick is one of the faces of ladies football at this stage, a household name by now. She’s hands down one of the best defenders — make that players — in the country and has proven that time and time again. 

She’s the go-to when there’s a fire to be put out, rock-solid, evergreen, a work horse, a real harrier in the tackle; everything that exemplifies a top-class defender. Her athleticism, speed, work-rate and pure grit on the pitch is nothing short of admirable as she averts and creates scores, getting forward and chipping in herself from time to time.

Not only this, but her efforts off the pitch are second to none in bringing the game and ladies football, as a brand, to new heights. Just like between throw-in and the final whistle, no job is too big and she’s a real team player, humble and modest as can be.

Unfortunately, we won’t have the privilege of watching ‘Goldie’ do her thing in Croke Park this evening as the Dubs face Donegal to get their year up and running. She’s had a long season between county and club and reoccurring hamstring injuries have ruled her out of contention.

It’s nothing to worry about though; rest, rehab and building up strength through her own gym work will have her back in no time. She’s found what works best for her at this stage, and sitting out the first few rounds of the league pays dividends in the long run.

“I’m just trying to get my body right and mentally, you want a little break,” she smiles.

It’s very easy to just think of the third Sunday in September when you think of Goldrick’s 2018, or the first Sunday in May, but one must not forget the not so good days, namely the second Saturday in December.

Celebrating September’s win with Sinéad Finnegan.

Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Foxrock-Cabinteely suffered another heartbreaking All-Ireland club final loss at the hands of Mourneabbey, this one hitting Goldrick particularly hard.

Subsequently, the six-time All-Star is coming into 2019 on a bit of a low despite September’s historic back-to-back Brendan Martin Cup lifts with Mick Bohan’s side.

“Tasting an All-Ireland win with county has been one of the best experiences ever so I’d be hoping to have that experience with my club players,” she reflects.

“The fact that we didn’t do it and we were beaten by a far better team, you are on a low but I suppose you just need to see how you can improve your game because you weren’t good enough.

“Over the years when we’ve lost club and not had the taste of winning, it’s been really tough but you just have to look at yourself and your team and see where you can improve.

“That’s probably the mindset that I’ve been taking: just to try and improve yourself. We weren’t good enough on the day so that’s what I’m focusing on now, and getting the body right for it.”

She’s more than used to bouncing back from adversity at this stage. There have been good years and bad years, good days and bad days with club and county, and in life in general.

When asked how long she’s been involved with the Sky Blues, Goldrick’s not 100 per cent certain of the correct answer. She reckons she’s played league since 2008 but then chose travel over football for one or two summers in college.

“Since 2011 fully fledged,” she grins. And fully fledged she is, all in. 

“It’s great. When you’re more experienced, you only have a certain amount of time that you can be playing for your county and stuff like that. It’s a choice. I love it.

“When I stop enjoying it, that’s when I’ll stop playing. That might come next year, two years; but once I stop enjoying it, I will stop playing.”

Dejection after the 2016 final.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

That’s a while away yet though, she assures, enthusiasm and enjoyment written all over her face.

“I love it, I love the buzz, I love our team and I just really, really…. love football,” Goldrick giggles, almost taking the piss out of herself at this stage, “You know what I mean….

“There are hard times, especially with club. You do doubt yourself but when you sign up for Dublin and you sign up for your club you know there’s going to be highs and lows throughout the year. That’s what you sign up for. 

“When you get a taste for success it’s brilliant but when you get a taste for loss, you wouldn’t have it any other way in terms of the year. You’d still give that commitment towards it.”

Bohan again has assembled a really strong panel for the year ahead, with 14 new, fresh faces included, Goldrick — who works in sports sponsorship and marketing at Wilson Hartnell — says. The continuity at management level is nice along with older, more seasoned campaigners throwing their lot at the cause once again.

The blend of youth and experience, intertwined with a sense of freshness makes for a nice buzz within the camp. There is that bit of looking over one’s shoulder, she admits, and there’s the challenge ahead of earning her place all over again.

“Younger, better, faster, stronger coming through,” she continues. “It’s great because you can’t be resting, you want to be on your toes, you want that competition. It’s a senior county team so you want it to be as competitive in camp as possible. 

“It’s exciting times, especially how we’re starting off, playing in Croke Park. You just want to see where you’re at in terms of the benchmark of other teams at this time now.

“I think Saturday will tell a tale in terms of where we’re at.”

She’ll be watching on at HQ this evening, more than likely slightly envious, but she knows the break will do her the world of good. She’s happy too to pass the baton on and to let others have their chance, and their day in the sun.

A double-header in Croke Park, a clash with a really strong Donegal side with television cameras following the action under Saturday Night Lights. What’s not to love?

Lining out with Fox-Cab.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It’s really good. As you know, it’s not often that ladies footballers get an opportunity to play in Croke Park, especially for players who might not have started in the All-Ireland final.

“People have been training really hard. There’s going to be a lot of new faces on Saturday and it’s brilliant because it’s a great opportunity for people to experience playing in Croke Park. What a way to start.

“Donegal last year were tough in the league, we scraped a win. They’re very fit, very ferocious, their forward line are fantastic. It’s winter football though too so it’s trying to do less kicking the ball away and trying to maintain it. Hopefully it’ll be a good match.”

The double-headers are all positive.”This is what we’ve been asking for and we’ve got it,” she pipes up, adding that the chance to showcase the rising standards of the ladies’ game to a new audience is a huge plus.

Looping back though, 2019 is a new year. 2018 has been and gone. That first-ever Division 1 title, Leinster trophy and All-Ireland crown; they count for nothing now.

It’s over and done. They go again.

“You hear it but if you want to be an athlete, you have to forget about it, you have to improve yourself,” she stresses. “It’s a blank canvas.

“There’s people coming in, standards need to be set, the culture needs to be built up again. You haven’t won anything, it’s 2019, you need to make sure that you’re getting the best and that new players coming in are the same as we had before.That that culture and that atmosphere that we’ve built up over the few years is the same.

“At the start, it’s a transition in terms of the league games. It’s winter football too so you have to have some leeway at the start just to see how things unfold. We want to make the culture that we’ve had and try to improve it year on year.”

At Tuesday’s league launch.

She won’t hear much talk of silverware to defend — even in the league — and God forbid three in-a-row is mentioned. But that’s what makes Sinéad Goldrick, Sinéad Goldrick.

There’s opportunities there to be taken, minutes to be played and a team to gel together all over again.

Bit by bit, game by game, play by play.

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