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Friday 19 July 2019

Magee: Game keeps on getting better

Popularity of football has helped tip back gender balance

Lauren Magee of Dublin and Kilmacud Crokes was at the launch of the Beko Club Bua programme 2019. For more information visit leinstergaa.ie/club-bua/
Lauren Magee of Dublin and Kilmacud Crokes was at the launch of the Beko Club Bua programme 2019. For more information visit leinstergaa.ie/club-bua/

Given her lineage, Lauren's Magee's sporting path was probably inevitable yet she possesses an acute realisation that she was born at the perfect time to be a Dublin senior footballer.

She is just three years a senior yet possesses two All-Ireland medals and a League crown.

Her two All-Ireland final appearances came in front of crowds totalling nearly 100,000, on record-breaking succesive Septembers.

Twice, both this year and last, she played in League games for Dublin in Croke Park and tomorrow, Magee will tog out in Nowlan Park for the first time after the LGFA switched venue from John Lockes GAA, Callan last week following a mini public outcry that the teams who shared the last 14 All-Irelands between them would play in comparitavely unglamorous surrounds.

"And," as Magee more immediately points out, "the standard of football for the ladies is just going up and up.

This point is particularly pertinent.

Media coverage for ladies football and camogie has never been so prominent.

Thus sponsorship levels have increased which, in turn, has brought about a higher level of expertise.

That spike in coaching combined with increased player numbers buoyed by heightened public awareness has resulted in an accelerated improvement in the quality of the game.

Vicious circle

So the vicious circle of public neglect that kept women's sport in the shadows for so long has quickly eroded in the short time since Magee became a Dublin player.

"People are appreciating it more," she observes,

"And it's just to come and see it because it's women's sport.

"People are coming to see it because it's really entertaining and the standard is going up and up all the time."

"The girls as skilful. The pace of the game is going up. It's a good game to watch."

"But when we played Cork in 2016 and we lost, that was my first year properly involved.

"But the dial went up on all the skills. Even the way you kick the ball," Magee explains.

"A lot of the time with ladies football, especially at underage, you never do your weak foot.

"You're punt kicking - you're not using your instep.

"So even from that. It's just the simple things. It's not magic passes or magic skills, it's just getting the basics right and improving on them that is bringing the game on to another level."

The effects of that are obvious to Magee.

She played football because her father, Johnny did and because he played for Dublin, she attended and watched their matches.

The first women's football match she was at was the 2010 All-Ireland final whereas now, girls are drawn to the game through the flagship ladies team.

"I'd have never watched the Dublin ladies because there was no real publicity or attention about them," she recalls.

Amazing

"It's so different now. There's young girls from our club who go to all the matches all over Ireland. So it's an amazing time to be a part of that."

"Even the difference of going into schools. Usually we'd be asked to go into girls schools with the cup but last year, I went into a couple of boys schools in Stillorgan.

"And you have boys asking you questions about equality and even they appreciate that. You have boys coming up to looking for autographs and that never happened before.

"You'd never have got that before. A little boy looking for a girl's autograph! It's pushing on each year."

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