IC14 Vignettes – Una McKay (Irish Banshees)
Monday, August 11 2014 @ 09:40 pm ACST
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
The dominance of the Irish Banshees women’s teams has been profound for a number of years, and it is women like Una McKay and her team mates that uphold the standards of those who went before them. Una is in Melbourne with the Banshees and has shared her own journey.
“I came to Australia for six months work experience and it had been mentioned to me that women play AFL, so I was keen to try it out. I was introduced to Limerick Camogie and AFL player Marie Keating (twice all Australian). She invited me to a new team’s training – [they were] called the Shamrocks.”
“I learnt the base skills and game play and managed to try out and make the NSW 2009 state team after a few months of training. We travelled to Perth and reached the Division 2 finals (runners up to SA). Playing for a great bunch of girls in the Shamrocks and the NSW squad made me want to stay longer and play for a few years.” “I was lucky enough to get the NSW Player’s Player [award] at Perth nationals and the “Rookie of the Year” for NSW on top of really enjoying the challenge of the new game.” “I gave Australian Rules a go as I always enjoy a new sporting challenge and had watched it on television back in Ireland. It is also a great way to settle and get into a work/sport life balance.” I remember travelling to All Ireland [Gaelic Football] finals with a range of 20-40,000 in attendance just to see the women play and their high skill levels.”
“It would be excellent to see this replicated here in Australia. Well over 100,000 women play Gaelic football alone. It's a strong traditional sport ingrained in society. It’s a sport for all the family as it was built on parish rule which means you had to play for your village or town. This instils healthy club/ school links, rivalry and a string sense if pride and culture therefore fuelling a good participation coaching and volunteering base. “
“The standard [of the International Cup] has evidently improved over the past 3 years but I'd say Ireland in both genders will still be tough to beat with their constant support plays and hand-balling skills brought over from Gaelic games.”
Results on the first day of competition certainly support Una’s prediction, and we wish Una and the Irish teams the very best of luck for IC14.