29 Jun 2022

Longford Ladies Football: Shauna Murphy all set for action again with Mullinalaghta

longford ladies football

Mullinalaghta ladies football player Shauna Murphy

This week we get opinions, advice and views from Shauna Murphy, Mullinalaghta ladies Junior club player on the ladies football game and on how she spent her time during lockdown.

How did you keep busy during lockdown?

At the start of lockdown, I was busy preparing for the Leaving Cert, trying to keep my normal school schedule going, but as soon as predicted grades were announced I found different ways to keep occupied. Mam had me painting the house during the week and I went to work with Dad at the weekend. There were also a lot of random walks to get out of the house as well as watching a lot of Netflix.

What way did your own lifestyle change during COVID-19?

As a very social person it took me some time to adjust to not being able to see my friends as often as I would like. There have been many zoom calls with the girls lasting hours and countless walks with my dog Toby.  As well as trying to keep match fit which was a challenge in itself.

What training programme/routine did you go through during lockdown and how often did you train?

At the start I didn't necessarily have a training routine and I tried a few different things but I didn't stick to the at home workouts for long. I found the best thing for me was going for a few runs during the week and having my sister working from home provided some friendly competition. A couple of weeks ago our coaches started to send us weekly challenges to do in our own time before our return to training in recent weeks. Seeing the girls better themselves every week and motivating each other got me back into the team mindset. One of our challenges as a club involved covering over 1000km and raising over €565 for Pieta House.

Following recent changes to the "Return to Activity Guidelines" which were endorsed by the LGFA, ladies club fixtures can now officially take place. What are your thoughts on getting back to playing full contact football?

I’m delighted to be back and training with my team again. At the start I was a bit reluctant considering how serious the virus is but with all the guidelines and regulations I feel comfortable returning. If everyone keeps to the rules enforced then I don’t see any problem and as for matches I feel once the ball is thrown in it will be like nothing has changed, except my fitness level maybe!

What was it that sparked your interest in the sport from a young age?

My family is a very sporty family so GAA has always been something I have taken a great interest in. I used to attempt to play with my brothers in the garden and Dad signed me to play with the boys team from the age of four! Once I started to play I became more and more interested in improving and learning new skills. I played a few different sports but football is the one I’ve played the longest and am the most interested in, with basketball being a close second.

How have you found your experience of playing ladies football?

Overall, my experience playing ladies football has been positive as it has given me the opportunity to meet loads of new people and socialise with my friends. As someone who has played with the boys teams when I was younger as well as the girls teams, I find that there are some key differences in how the two are treated. Women’s football is continuing to be treated more seriously but still does not get the same respect as men’s.

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

The best thing for me is definitely the friends you make and the people you meet. I have made friends with not only my teammates but the girls I play against which provides me with great social life in Longford and an extra level of comfort going to college knowing I’ll always have friends with football. Football also makes it very easy for me to get fit without feeling a lot of pressure to do so. I find myself wanting to be match ready gives me enough motivation to push myself at training.

From a club players point of view what are the main challenges you have found in your playing career so far?

As a student I found it hard balancing training and studying and figuring out a timetable that worked with both. My newest challenge is trying to make week day training while maintaining a job outside the county. Travelling home can take a lot of energy so if I do make it to training I find it more difficult to concentrate and be motivated.

Having won minor championship and league honours with your club Mullinalaghta and having moved up to play junior grade football with your club, what advice would you give to young players hoping to achieve similar honours with their clubs?

I have always played a year or two ahead and I think that has made all the difference in the way I play football. Before I was given my place on the team I would go to the odd senior training and sit on the bench at games seeing how the older girls played and learned like that. After getting my position I would listen to the directions of the older girls and the coaches and followed the game that way until I learned my own style of football. Although we have been unlucky in the last couple of years with the outcome in finals, we continue to grow and develop as a team and have a few younger players joining us this year willing to learn in the same way I did. In Mullinalaghta we are always encouraged to take the chances when we get them and not being afraid of making mistakes and because of that advice it gives me more confidence when playing.

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

Ladies football can often be treated as a second class sport compared to the men’s game. I feel this has to change and the ladies game has to be promoted more amongst society. Last year the ladies finals were played at a club pitch venue and not in Pearse Park. By not having the finals in our county grounds it took away from the atmosphere of the event and showed the difference between how the LGFA is treated in comparison to GAA. As for the game itself, when playing I often find our games lack the same fluidity as men’s football does as fouls are more regularly called instead of utilising advantage and this can really affect the intensity of the game as you are constantly stopping and starting. By allowing more contact in the sport I think the game would develop more and become more interesting to watch and play.

This brings an end to our Longford Ladies Football interview column. Over the past three months it was interesting to read about the thoughts and views on ladies football and about the life of a club/county player during lockdown from the girls themselves. All interviews made very interesting reading. Well done to each girl from the various county teams and club teams in Longford for taking the time out to do each interview.

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