This article was published in the Independent.IE on Monday, 21st March and written by Niall Scully.
Síle Nic Coitir (extreme left) at Ballyboden St Enda’s Sports Surgery Clinic Sponsorship launch along with (l-r) Fiachra O’Connor, Fiona Roche (both from Sports Surgery Clinic), Ciarán Maguire (Chairman) , Paschal Taggart (Chairman of the Board), Dr Ray Moran, Brian Keane (CEO SSC) and Shane Durkin.
“It’s wonderful to see female athletes at the centre of things” says Ballyboden and county legend
A Big night at Boden. Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ comes on the music system.
If the great man had been in Páirc Uí Mhurchú himself, he would have sung: ‘It’s 9 o’clock on a Tuesday. The regular crowd shuffles in.’
Soon, it’s standing room only. For the big sponsorship announcement. From the Sports Surgery Clinic, Santry, the club’s new sponsors.
Earlier in the day, Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle won the hearts at Cheltenham. This club has known Gold Cup days too.
In the corner of the Boden clubhouse, the Manchester United-Atletico Madrid match is on the tele. Stephanie Roche is on the RTÉ panel.
Síle Nic Coitir finds a quieter spot and reflects on her own role models .
She was a big fan of Paul Curran. And the Antrim hurling goalkeeper, Niall Patterson. Then there was Dublin’s hurling All-Star, Brian McMahon.
“All men,” she smiles now. “Thankfully, that has changed.
“There’s so many outstanding women in sport that young people can now look up to. That has been a brilliant development,” she notes.
“The 20×20 campaign was a big success. As it says, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.
“It’s wonderful to see female athletes at the centre of things. At launches and on TV, and in the media in general. You have the likes of Katie Taylor and Kellie Harrington. It’s incredible what they have done.
“When I was growing up, it was different. Thankfully, the achievements of women in sport are being recognised, and that young people can see that, and can relate to it. Women in sport work just as hard as the fellas. So it’s only fair that they get the profile.”
She’s a pundit herself now. “I really enjoy that. You see the game from a totally different perspective. You are up on a height and you are focusing on things like tactics and all the rest of it.”
In the clubhouse, there are pictures the tell the Boden story. This is where Síle calls home.
She’s been coming here for over a quarter of a century. And she has a bagful of medals that stretch the length of the Firhouse Road.
She was born into the games. Her Dad, Don, was the Chairman of the Dublin County Board.
Síle recalls happy days at school in Scoil Naithí and Coláiste Íosagáin. And with Ballinteer St John’s and St Olaf’s. And then arriving down to Boden. Playing for the U14’s. “I felt so welcome from the first day.”
She became an acclaimed dual player, with club and county. With Boden, she won ten Dublin Senior Camogie Championships, plus one Leinster. “That Leinster win was one of my proudest days.”
In Ladies’ Football, she collected four Dublin Senior Championship crowns, three Leinster and one All-Ireland. Bill Daly lighting a spark that became a bonfire.
Then for the Dubs, there was a Leinster Senior Championship Ladies’ Football victory, and an All-Ireland Camogie Junior Championship success.
She has learned so much along the way. And one of the most important lessons of all – keep playing as long as you can.
She’s a coach herself now. Mentoring the Maynooth camogie team. “I’m really enjoying it. Coaching is such a completely different ball game. Just because you played, doesn’t mean you can coach.
“You have to listen and learn from other people. There’s so much emphasis on tactics and formations, etc. It’s fascinating. I feel fortunate that I have got the chance.”
She delights in how ladies football is prospering. Mick Bohan’s Dubs. “It’s so quick now. The play is constantly up and down. It’s a very attractive game to watch.”
She commends camogie’s journey. “The physicality has greatly added to the game. The rule changes have helped so much.”
She’d be thrilled to see the Dublin camogie team return to the big-time. “I hope things can keep progressing. It’s all about getting the grassroots and structures right. And building from there.”
Having the GAA family under one roof would be an initiative she’d welcome. A family that have been such an important part of her life.
There’s a growing hum coming from the Boden Bar now. Proceedings are about to begin. She tips her hat to the generosity of the new sponsors.
She has known the long, injury-filled days herself. A catalogue of cruciate and cartilage operations.
She overcame them all. A sharp, darting forward with big ball and small. And when the knees began to act up, she put on the goalkeeper’s cap.
It’s her composure, under pressure, that most stands out. The ability to think on those quick feet.
An attribute that will serve her well in the coaching department. And in the commentary box.