herald

Saturday 21 April 2018

'We didn't realise the impact it would have on people'

Finnegan aiming to assist with homelessness plight on Saturday night

Sinéad Finnegan (top) and Denise McKenna celebrate after victory in the TG4 Ladies Football All-Ireland Senior Championship final against Mayo at Croke Park. Pic: Sportsfile
Sinéad Finnegan (top) and Denise McKenna celebrate after victory in the TG4 Ladies Football All-Ireland Senior Championship final against Mayo at Croke Park. Pic: Sportsfile

On Saturday night, under the banner Gaelic Voices for Change, hundreds of inter-county players will sleep rough in their towns as part of a concerted effort to help tackle or at least make a louder noise about the issue of homelessness.

Sineád Finnegan, Dublin's recent All-Ireland winner, will be one. And in a season when the planets finally aligned for her team, she has felt a compulsion towards this cause.

It has been a remarkable year for Finnegan, though one she looks forward to waving off, with normality restored, after completing her altruistic turn on Saturday night.

It has been the season of Dublin's All-Ireland win, the banishing of their final hoodoo. Of a record-shattering attendance in the All-Ireland final.

And more recently, the Loosehorse-produced documentary, Blues Sisters, the widely-acclaimed chronicle of the Dublin ladies' victorious 2017 season.

Dublin ladies football captain Sinéad Aherne is welcomed by the President of Ireland Michael
D Higgins and his wife Sabina during the Áras an Uachtaráin reception for the Dublin senior
men and ladies’ squads. Pic: Sportsfile
Dublin ladies football captain Sinéad Aherne is welcomed by the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina during the Áras an Uachtaráin reception for the Dublin senior men and ladies’ squads. Pic: Sportsfile

"The documentary was probably a bit of an awakening for us," Finnegan says now.

"Because we didn't realise the impact it would have on people.

"But since that came out, I've had Dads come up to me and tell me they watched it with their daughter and someone else told me their daughter was down doing press ups while she was watching the show or pretending she was scoring points in the sitting room.

More

"So for us, it showed us that we're probably doing a bit more than we think we're doing.

"We're throwing our boots in our bags to go training in the evening and you don't think you're having any great effect on other people.

"But we're a bit more conscious now that we're affecting people's lives outside of our own. Which is really nice.

"We didn't anticipate the reaction it got."

On Saturday, Finnegan attended the wedding of Paul Flynn and Fiona Hudson in Virginia, where both the Sam Maguire and Brendan Martin Cups were on display.

Yesterday, she visited her old secondary school in Malahide with fellow former pupils Niamh McEvoy, Sineád Aherne and Nicole Owens before darting off to Áras an Uachtaráin, where a reception for both the Dublin men and ladies' teams was hosted by President Michael D Higgins.

This Saturday, however, Finnegan will be one of the many inter-county players who will sleep out in the elements in Dublin city centre as part of an awareness and fundraising campaign against homelessness.

Three weeks ago, on her regular commute, Finnegan walked down O'Connell Street early on a weekday morning and saw the numbers of people without shelter, huddling by necessity in doorways in the centre of the capital.

"I was really upset by it. It was just horrific. I was giving out about the cold and I was fully wrapped up.

"It's just heart-breaking, particularly in the cold weather. Literally, on every second door step, there's someone sleeping rough."

Finnegan is the Dublin representative with the WGPA and received a text from the new players' union later that day enquiring about volunteers for the sleep-out.

Sign

"I took it as a sign. I just felt it would be wrong of me not to sign up."

The fundraising page is only up a week and already there is over €70,000 raised. Collections will be taken on the night. Pat Gilroy's Dublin hurlers are signed up. So are some of Finnegan's team-mates.

In a year when they helped push the profile of their own game to a new level, this feels important too.

"Hopefully," Finnegan adds, "we can make something significant and make some sort of difference to people who are less fortunate than us."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News