Longford Ladies Football: Sarah Smyth set to shine for Ballymore

longford ladies football

Ballymore ladies football player Sarah Smyth

This week we get the opinions, advice and views from Sarah Smyth Ballymore Ladies Intermediate club player on how she spends her time during this lockdown.

How did you keep yourself busy during lockdown?

I was in my final year of my degree in St Pat’s DCU so keeping busy wasn’t overly difficult for me. I had lots of assignments and exams to occupy myself with, so the time during lockdown really flew for me. We were also kept busy with training sessions online, we made a big effort to try and keep the fitness levels up with the hope that football would return and we would be back in action mid-summer.

 What did you miss most during lockdown? 

I really missed being able to see friends during lockdown like most people. Zoom quizzes just weren’t the same. I also really missed being able to meet the girls at training, you get so used to seeing each other a couple of times a week, it was very strange training on your own.

From a club footballer prospective since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in what way has your own lifestyle changed? 

My own lifestyle definitely has changed during lockdown. It gave me a lot more spare time. As a student I’m normally trying to balance studying, working part time and trying to facilitate being off for football so life is normally hectic. It was nice to have more free time to do other things, it did make me realise that it is important to have time to yourself. But I’m definitely happy to get back to some normality now!

What training programme/routine did you go through during lockdown and how often would you have trained? 

Our training programme altered from week to week which was really good. It kept us motivated and interested in training. We did a mix of long runs, sprint sessions, home workouts and some ball work. Our training programme normally consisted of 3-4 sessions per week. Every week we were trying to up the intensity to make returning to training and matches a bit easier.

How did you keep up a healthy lifestyle with so many restrictions in place during COVID-19?

I would like to think I did lead a healthy lifestyle during COVID. I probably ended up exercising more than I normally would because we had more spare time and there wasn’t a whole lot of other things to do during lockdown. I found it easier to get into a routine of going for a run or a cycle most days. I also made an effort to try and eat healthily during that time.

The latest changes by the LGFA to the return to activity guidelines states that official club fixtures are allowed from the 17th July next. What are your thoughts from a club players perspective on returning to play football with your club Ballymore from this date?

I’m happy to be returning to fixtures from the 17th of July, we won’t find it coming but it does give us a few weeks to get back training as a group. We are all eager to get back sooner rather than later, we would prefer to avoid fixtures running into the winter months. It is good to have games coming up soon in order to give us a focus and a date to work towards. Naturally our fitness levels and performance levels won’t be what they normally would be for championship season but it will be good for us to get back playing competitive matches.

 What is the best thing for you about playing ladies football? 

I really enjoy the social aspect of playing ladies football and the comradery of being part of a team. All of the girls on our team get on really well together and there is a good mixture of ages. Being part of a club is like its own little community in a sense. As a group you become very bonded as you go through a lot of highs and lows together.

Having won Longford Minor “A” and Senior “B” championship titles as well as League and Gold Cup titles with your club Ballymore what advice can you give to young Longford lady club footballers hoping to achieve similar honours with their clubs? 

We are very lucky in Ballymore, we have lots of really talented young players coming through and they have made a big impact on the senior team. I suppose for us we have been in the intermediate county final for the last two years but unfortunately we came up short on both occasions, so it has been disappointing for the younger girls, but the only advice I would give to them is to stick with it, our day will come. We will learn from our mistakes and our experience will stand to us going forward. We are so aware that we need to grab the opportunity and perform to our best on final days and hopefully we can move forward this year and get back up to playing at senior grade.

 From a personal point of view what would you change to make the LGFA more appealing to new members/players?

I think that a shorter season would be more appealing to new members/players. Maybe a season running from March to August/September for example. The pitches would be in a better condition which would help the quality of the football. It would also give students a chance to settle back into school and college. There can be a big gap between games due to the small number of teams in the various divisions.

 What part of the ladies football game would you like to see improved and why? 

I suppose tackling is something that I would like to see improved in ladies football. Some of the rules are different in ladies compared with the men’s game. We get caught for fouling more often as we are not allowed to tackle in certain ways which can really slow down the game and can cost us when we are penalised for a foul. I think it would be better to play advantage a bit more and to let there be more physicality in ladies football. I think that it would also be good to introduce a mark into the ladies game. 

Next week we will get opinions, advice and views in relation to COVID-19 and the “Safe Return to Play Guidelines” from Colmcille Intermediate club player Patricia Hourican.

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