Almost nine years ago, my youngest daughter Mia was born. I remember well a conversation I had with a nurse in the hospital who enquired as to how many children I now had. “3” I replied, “all girls.” “Oh”, she said, wondering if I was sad I did not have a son. “I always just wanted girls, “ I explained, “probably something to do with growing up with 3 brothers.” I was truly delighted with myself and remember remarking to her that at least I would not have to stand on the side lines of football matches and deal with mucky boots and kit. Boy – how wrong can you be. Middle daughter, Roisin is a member of her local GAA football team. Up till about 2 years ago, I knew nothing about GAA. Growing up in suburban Dublin, I assumed that GAA was something that people from the country got involved in! Sure wasn’t Croke Park full of culchies, was my attitude. Mmmm. Well I can now say that I am a total convert to GAA even though I still have only the most tenuous of grips on the rules of the game and still can’t work out the scoring system.
But every week during the season I am at Roisin’s match. In the beginning it was just another chore. Now, I hate not going. I stand on the side line and do a great ‘embarrassing mom’ routine, shouting instructions and encouragement to all and sundry. And it’s fine.
There is great excitement at these matches – I really can’t imagine an All Ireland Final being any more thrilling. But beyond that, there is a great sense of camaraderie among the families involved. There is a sense of belonging and of pride in our local community. And I am sure a lot of this comes from the amazing people who train and organise the kids in local clubs all over the country.
So as they celebrate their 125th anniversary, I am proud to say that I am a keen supporter of our local girls GAA team. I think that makes me a GAA Ma. And I love it!