Although only three months on Australian soil Dromod girl Lisa McGowan is already making history in the land Down Under. On Sunday July 22 last, the young Cloonturk lady donned the Padraig Pearse GAC (Gaelic Athletic Club) colours and took to the pitch at Keysborough, Melbourne, in the club’s first ever League Final win.
“I played football at home for Bornacoola. I also played county one year with Leitrim and other years with NUI Galway where I studied engineering,” said Lisa speaking to the Leader from her new home in the Victorian State capital, Melbourne.
She added: “I play wing half-back and that’s what I’m usually playing over here. Padraig Pearse is a great club and there’s a great team spirit. It’s really a ready-made group of friends when you arrive over here.”
Eliza Geelan, a 27-year-old native of Cloonturk, Dromod, agreed with Lisa.
“I joined Pearse’s in February 2011 so this is my second season with the club. I never played football for a club at home as I went to school in England so I was really nervous about joining Pearses. However my boyfriend (Padraig O’Grady) encouraged me and it has been unbelievable,” said Elisa, who studied Environmental Planning at Queen’s University, Belfast.
She continued: “Winning the League Final was fantastic. We were beaten by a point in the league final last year which was obviously very disappointing but to come back this year and take it one step further and win (against Sinn Fein), was just brilliant.”
Eliza left Irish shores in April 2009 and spent time travelling in New Zealand before moving to Melbourne. Asked if she could see herself returning to Ireland in the near future, the daughter of JJ and Liz replied: “Yes, definitely one day. We love Melbourne and we both (Eliza and Padraig) have great jobs in our field and we would only return if we could get jobs in our field – which may not be for a very long time.”
She added: “I emigrated because I could not get work planning. I remember going to the Dole Office in Galway and signing on. I was so upset. It was not that I had to sign on, but more the frustration of not being able to get work after studying so hard for four years.”
Lisa, a daughter of Michael and Margaret, did not feel the same pressure to emigrate.
“The fact that I couldn’t get any work at home made my decision easier – but I love to travel. I’m hoping to get work in Melbourne but if not, I’ll try Perth where there is more work in the mining industry. I like it here and yes, I would see myself living here for the next three to four years. But when I go to settle, I’ll probably come home,” she said.
Both girls agreed that if you are looking to make friends in Australia, the ideal way is to join a local Gaelic Athletic Club.
“Pearse’s has only been established five years but we have thirty plus girls to choose from already,” said Lisa.
Eliza added: “Joining a GAA club was the best thing I did. There are so many people in the same boat as you and so many people are willing to help you out. You actually struggle to have a free weekend to do nothing!”