• Louise Toal

Garda weekdays and GAA commentator weekends

Updated: 2 days ago

Frontline worker Aoife Donnelly and now GAA Sports Commentator for Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo shares her journey in broadcasting online during Covid to the community for both home and abroad.

Credit: Aoife Donnelly

Her sports commentating role began over a phone call, “I got a phone call from one of the pillars of Ballinrobe GAA, Liam Horan who was looking for commentators. He pointed out that it would be a collective effort and that I would be covering both the men’s and women’s matches”.

She modestly says, “I thought I was being asked on who would be good for the role. I didn’t think I would be asked. I said yes, let’s give it a go”.

Aoife goes on to say she started out at one of the junior matches to see how the commenting worked and before she knew it, it was half time, and a mic was put in front of her and she started talking.

“It’s such a great idea. More clubs should look into it, because it’s so easy to do. I’m delighted I got involved. It’s been a real honor to be thought of and to be respected”.

She says whilst broadcasting on Facebook Live, “There’s such a buzz about it, it’s nearly as good as being on the sidelines or pitch itself. So, thrilling! You’re trying not to get caught up in the match but at the same time let everyone know at home what’s happening”.

She mentions, “There’s been huge praise for the commentating for the club with parents contacting the club saying their children have listened back to the matches on the clubs Facebook page and were delighted to hear their names being mentioned. You start to get to know everyone and it really is what makes a club a club”.

Credit: Aoife Donnelly

When asked if she would be interested in commentating for an All-Ireland Final, she politely says, “I’d love to hear and see a female for an All-Ireland Final. I would 100% commentate. Any game is a privilege to do. If there’s an All-Ireland going sign me up!”

She adds, “It would be great to see more women involved. Women should consider commentating in their club, you don’t have to win an All-Ireland to be able to commentate. Commentating is knowing the basics and adding the excitement. If anyone is thinking about doing it, do it! You won’t regret it. If anything, it’s a bit of craic”,

She reminisces a time where she commentated at an U14 A Final, “I honestly thought we’d just been through an All-Ireland Final in Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Some of the lads on one of the teams, I would have babysat”, she says jokingly.

“We’re lucky we’ve got our foot in most of the matches with the semi and county finals. We’re lucky to have seen those days and I was lucky to bring those matches to people’s homes. I couldn’t believe the Facebook stats of people engaging and listening in”, she says.

When asked if she had a ritual before going live Aoife replied, “Having the GAA President of South Mayo, Padraic Costello by my side as my co-commentator. The calmest man in Co. Mayo. He’s been there since day one. We went to cover a match in Westport. My brother was in goals on the day and we were on the sidelines. I told him I was absolutely bricking it”.

She adds, “The club has been nothing but supportive to me and very encouraging. I’ve never one-bit doubted myself because they were always there to give me a hand or push me into the deep end when I needed it”.

With Covid playing havoc on sporting events Aoife says, “It’s been a strange time to get involved but there has been much praise. I didn’t realize the amount of people who listen into the games, who weren't able to attend because of the regulations or people from Ballinrobe now live abroad”.

She says, “It’s a tough time for people, the club is the social scene, but we’ll have brighter days ahead. I look forward to the day we’re back in action”.

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