Christina Heffernan looking forward to Ladies Football Championship
By Cian O’Connell
Former Mayo All Ireland winning captain Christina Heffernan has acknowledged the importance of the media in developing Ladies Football.
Throughout the past decade significant strides have been made, illustrated by the record breaking attendance figures at September’s showpiece fixtures at Croke Park.
While 2020 is a radically different situation, the relevance of sport remains crucial according to the highly regarded Heffernan.
“You only appreciate what is taken away from you, this year more than ever we appreciate having the football,” Heffernan says.
“Especially now, going into the next six weeks of a lockdown, it is great to have something to watch on the telly, to have something to look forward to, getting everyone through this dark spell. Definitely you appreciated it more, especially when it has been taken away.”
All 42 games in the TG4 Ladies Football Championships will be broadcast live with Heffernan stressing the value of that development.
“TG4 do great coverage every year, they are bringing more to our game,” Heffernan states. “They are doing the underdogs next year, last year they did the preview for the women's All Ireland, a bit like RTE do with 'Up for the Match'.
“They are constantly increasing the coverage they are giving by putting more games on. All of that brings Ladies Football to another level.
“If you go back over the last number of years the attendance at Croke Park has been increasing and increasing, albeit a bit slowly, but it is still getting there. I've no doubt that in a few years time Croke Park will be filled with people watching.
An increasing awareness of sporting role models is identified by many as assisting the growth of Ladies Football, but Heffernan is adamant about the work carried out by clubs throughout the country.
“The role model, yeah, but also the individual players, the amount of work and effort they put in,” Heffernan remarks. “It all boils down to the work in the clubs, who are producing players for county level. It all goes back to the clubs and effort they are putting in. I think all of that is helping.”
Heffernan, who won four All Irelands, believes that Mayo can make a bold bid for national honours again under Peter Leahy’s stewardship.
“I had the pleasure of training a few of those young ones, but they’re not that young now,” Heffernan replies. 4
“Back in 2011 when we won the All-Ireland B title, the likes of Sarah Rowe, the Kelly sisters, Aileen Gilroy, they’re all big players and they’ve been around a while now.
“I do think the likes of those girls will pull Mayo through on any given day this year. I think there will be big surprises.
"I was up at their games the last year or two in Dublin and they were there or thereabouts. I do believe, watch this space, they are on the verge of coming big again, I think.”