Former Waterford footballer Michelle Ryan feels as though this year's Lidl Ladies National Football League will be “one of the most important league campaigns" there has been.
The action gets under this week with Cork hosting Tipperary in the opening round at 7:30 pm on Friday, May 21st. The manner in which the league is being held this year means there is little time between the conclusion of the League and the beginning of the Championship and so managers nationwide will be hoping their squad can hit the ground running and carry some momentum from the League right into the first round of the TG4 Championship which is pencilled in for the weekend of July 10th/11th.
Speaking to Her Sport’s Gavin Dalton, Michelle Ryan expressed her feelings towards the highly anticipated return to action for all Ladies Football players, coaches and fans.
“It’s such a condensed league campaign first of all, I mean the first three rounds will be within the first three weekends so two weeks in effect.
“You have your semi finals the week after and then two weeks after that you have your finals, so within a five-ish week period you have your entire league campaign finished, and then two weeks after that you’re leading into Championship.. I expect it to be a fairly intense competition to be honest and I think that’s one thing that struck me from covering the games last winter was the fact that when the games were so condensed everyone just goes for it.
"Because there’s so much on the line and you can’t afford to hang back and you can’t afford to slip up and there was a ferocity to some of the games and I expect and I hope to see that again in the next few weeks because it made it exciting, it made it made it great as a spectacle, there was some great displays of football.”
Watch the full interview where Michelle Ryan discusses Dublin's winning mentality, her predictions for the year including Dublin, Waterford, Galway, Donegal and Cork! Also how Dublin and Cork will fair without Noelle Healy and Saoirse Noonan!
Ryan, who will continue her work as an analyst with TG4 for this campaign, retired in 2020 from the intercounty game after 19 admirable years of service. In the recent interview attached above, Michelle also speaks of the great news this week which will see female intercounty GAA players set to earn parity of State Funding with their male counterparts. Coinciding with this news is the announcement of TG4’s plans to broadcast 150% more games in the forthcoming league campaign.
Michelle alluded to the fact that developments like these seen this week are signs of a “mindset change”, with the 20X20 campaign much to thank for the increased visibility for female athletes and teams in Ireland. She said: ”I think that there’s no doubting obviously the impact of the (20X20) Can’t See, Can’t Be campaign.
“There is absolutely a huge change. There’s been a huge change even in comparison to seven or eight years ago. But like I said there’s still more to go and there still will probably be a bit of a battle every now and again to ensure these things are done and to ensure these things are covered.
“To use an analogy a friend of mine gave to me a while ago and it was absolutely perfect; we’re probably on a pendulum swing and we’re moving very extreme to the pushing of Ladies’ Football and women’s sports and promotion and so on and it is out there and we’re pushing it, and it’s being pushed in so many directions, it’s great and I’m looking forward to when we settle back to that middle balance, that like I said, it’s sport, it’s players, it’s football and so on, and that it's just a general, whether it’s male or female, treat it the same, same resources, same level of respect, same level of coverage and that's the area I can’t wait for us to get to.”
To combine with these opinions, the interview attached above, also involves the secondary school teacher’s expectations for the Division 1 League, Dublin’s winning mentality, the year of ladies’ football ahead which will go forth without stars of the calibre of Saoirse Noonan and Noelle Healy and much more!