Dubs skipper Lyndsey Davey: 'I try to lead by example'
DUBLIN ladies' captain Lyndsey Davey is "something else", according to the team officials behind the Jackies - and it's easy to see how they came to that conclusion.
A trainee fire-fighter, with more than a decade of experience in the blue jersey, the 26-year-old certainly seems like the woman who can lead the team to All-Ireland victory on Sunday.
With a significantly more youthful team under Gregory McGonigle this year, her experience will be needed to see the season through to a successful conclusion.
"We've a very young and up-and-coming squad this year - last year we lost a lot of experienced girls," she says. "There's going to be a good mix of youth and experience on the day."
This year she will wear the captain's armband, but it is no less than her fifth All-Ireland with the team. Assuming the captaincy was a natural step for the Skerries Harps player.
"Playing with Dublin for so long, you kind of naturally fall into that leadership role. You're always looking out for the younger players on the team and making sure everything is going well for them," she says.
"Apart from being captain, I think that's something that just naturally came upon me.
"I try to lead by example and work as hard as I can out on the pitch. I try to set the tempo for everyone else."
The ladies in blue have something to prove after losing out to Cork last year, but their captain is filled with confidence.
"Cork are a fantastic side. They are going to be a tough team to beat, but I've total faith in the girls.
"They've put in so much hard work throughout the year and I've no doubt that we'll give it a good go," she says.
"It's going to come down to our work rate on the day. We need a strong 60 minutes and last year I think we performed for maybe 45 or 50 minutes - against a strong Cork side that's simply not good enough.
"That's something we are going to have to knuckle down and work hard at.
"We've done a lot of work this year and I think with every game we're improving."
As if an All-Ireland bid wasn't enough to worry about. Lyndsey is in the middle of 14-weeks of intensive training to become a fire officer at Dublin Airport.
"It's something I've always wanted to do from a young age and I'm delighted," she says.
Before being recruited she was working a desk job in the finance department in Croke Park. Her new venture is definitely a significant departure - and she was the only woman among the 16 recruits taken on this year.
"It's just like getting 15 new brothers all of a sudden. They all look out for me," she added.
Being the only woman isn't likely to faze Lyndsey, however, as that was how her GAA career began.
While things are different now and under-age structures for women's football have become very developed, Lyndsey had no choice but to play with the boys in Skerries Harps until she was a teenager.
"I was only 15 when I started playing with the Dublin seniors and, because I had that experience with the boys, I was probably a lot stronger," says Lyndsey,
Lyndsey also thinks her experience on the pitch will pay off in her new job. "Working in the fire brigade it all comes down to team work and communication - and that's something that is reflected on the pitch," she says.
Her excitement about her new role is palpable as she talks about her training off the pitch.
"I'm really enjoying it. Last week we were doing heat training, so we were in one of the training rooms and they bumped the temperature up to 200 degrees," she says.
"We were in there with our oxygen cylinders just to get us used to that environment and to see how reliable our cylinders are - even though you are in such extreme conditions you are still protected.
"Then we did entrapment procedures, where you became trapped and you had to learn how to slow your breathing down so you learn how to get the most out of your cylinder.
"It's fun and we're all really enjoying it. When it's something you've wanted for so long, you realise how lucky you are to be there."
It's also keeping her so busy that she has no time to be nervous about the upcoming match.
"I don't really have time to think about it, but there is a great buzz at the minute in the camp.
"I definitely have the best of both worlds," she says.
"It's what you aim for at the start of the season to get to Croke Park for the final and I think this year, being captain, will be extra special."
Making it to Croke Park, however, does not happen without making some sacrifices.
"One of the things that happens when you play senior football, because of the commitment you have to make, you do miss the odd night out or party. But when you're playing well and winning games it's an absolute honour to be representing Dublin, we're very privileged," she says.
"Ladies' football is just getting bigger and bigger too, which is great for the sport."
Her family are keen supporters of her GAA success.
"My mam put all of us in the GAA nurseries when we were younger - and it kind of just grew from there," she says.
Meanwhile, her other half - Dylan - knows a thing or two about how demanding a sporting career can be.
"He is on the Ireland karate team, so we're both always really busy. We train on similar nights, but we do manage to get some chill-out time too - which is always nice," she says.
"He understands completely because he is always flat out with his training schedule too, so it's nice to have that understanding between us."
Lyndsey hopes that the football fever in the capital will continue for the ladies.
"Fingers crossed the buzz from the men's game will carry through for us," she says.