Ireland's lacrosse scene may not be the most widely recognized, but with the sport set to make its mark at the LA 2028 Olympics, there's an increasing buzz around the country's chances at qualifying. Eimear Fitzgerald, an Irish lacrosse snsation, shared her remarkable story and offered a glimpse into the thrilling potential for lacrosse within the nation.
According to Eimear, she was one of the girls' sports dropout statistics. Around the age of 12, she lost interest in sports, choosing to pursue the theatre over sports during secondary school. That all changed when she watched a lacrosse match while visiting her aunt in the USA. On the 13th of September 2017 at the age of 17, Eimear showed up to a lacrosse training session in Dublin.
This decision had an instrumental impact on her life.
"It was nerve-wracking showing up to that training session having really not even ran for a bus in about five or six years...but it was just something about that sport and that team in particular that just drew me in."
Eimear Fitpatrick's story proves that you CAN get into a new sport even if you haven't played ANY sport 🔥
Watch or listen to the full Her Sport Show episode with the Irish lacrosse star on YouTube and Spotify 📺🔊@IrelandWLax @IrelandLacrosse pic.twitter.com/5OeKc0cLOD
— Her Sport (@HerSportDotIE) November 10, 2023
Eimear's talents and dedication began to shine very early on and she went on to captain the Irish u19 squad at the World Championships in 2019 and was a member of the senior women's team that represented Ireland at the World Championships in the USA last summer - which was also where Eimear made one of her favourite lacrosse memories.
"I am so proud to be Irish and always have been. To represent Ireland on the international stage is one thing and to be able to be the flag bearer for every game and lead the girls out was a massive honour and is definitely one of my favourite memories."
One aspect of lacrosse that has never ceased to amaze Eimear is the friendships she's formed. "I cant really explain it. It's one of those things you can only understand if you experience it yourself. The friendships and connections you make, not only with your team but also other players around the world, is so valuable and such a big part of Ireland Lacrosse. It's such a positive and friendly environment to be in."
COVID dealt a significant blow to lacrosse in Ireland, but Eimear remains optimistic that the dedication from the staff and players will see the sport increase in members in the near future. In her free time, Eimear also works as the league coordinator for Ireland Lacrosse and focuses a lot on trying to improve player interest and retention.
— Ireland Lacrosse (@IrelandLacrosse) August 20, 2023
At present, the senior women's lacrosse team is ranked 13th in the world which is an outstanding achievement considering that lacrosse is a minority sport and is largely self-funded. Given that lacrosse will be included at the 2028 Olympics - which will also be the first time ever that womens lacrosse will feature on the Olympic programme - Eimear firmly believes that Ireland has a chance to qualify.
"The 2028 Olympics is not that far away and it is definitely a massive step for the sport as a whole and hopefully we'll see Ireland lacrosse get more recognition for everything that we do and how far we've gotten with the very little resources we have and participate in more international tournaments to get that exposure."
Over the years, Eimear's passion for sport has only increased and she is devoted to encouraging other girls and women to get involved a sport, regardless of their age: "I never saw the fun in sport growing up and I think that's why I stopped playing in secondary school. I was also slightly more of a musical theatre child and I thought that I could only be one thing but that's absolutely not true at all. I really do believe that there's a sport for everyone."
Head over to Her Sport's YouTube channel to watch the full insightful interview with Eimear Fitzpatrick: