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Marie Crowe, soc­cer player, Re­pub­lic of Ire­land cor­re­spon­dent for UEFA, and award-win­ning sports jour­nal­ist and broad­caster with RTÉ and the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent, shares her pitch-side ex­pe­ri­ences.

IN PRI­MARY SCHOOL, I WAS A HUGE WRESTLING FAN. I used to watch the Royal Rum­ble, and other WWF matches, with my dad and write down the re­sults in a note­book. At school the next day, I’d tell ev­ery­one what hap­pened. I PL AYED LOTS OF SPORTS GROW­ING UP BE­FORE FO­CUS­ING ON SOC­CER. I cur­rently play for St Pa­trick’s Ath­letic in Dublin. I joined them when I moved up to Dublin in 2008, and I’m still go­ing strong, just about. I SE­CURED MY FIRST TWO PAGES OF GAA COV­ER­AGE while on a col­lege work ex­pe­ri­ence stint with the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent. Clare were play­ing Tip­per­ary in the Mun­ster hurl­ing cham­pi­onship, and I se­cured an in­ter­view with Tip­per­ary hurler Shane McGrath and also for­mer Clare hurl­ing man­ager Ger Lough­nane. Af­ter that, they asked me to stay for the sum­mer, and I ended up stay­ing for six years. I learned the value of good con­tacts on that first work ex­pe­ri­ence week, as Shane had been a class­mate of my brother and Ger was a class­mate of my father.

THE EX­CITE­MENT OF LIVE SPORT IS UN­BEAT­ABLE and that’s why I pos­si­bly love re­port­ing from matches the most, but I also re­ally en­joy fea­ture writ­ing be­cause I get an in­sight into some of the most fas­ci­nat­ing, driven peo­ple in the coun­try. Spend­ing hours tran­scrib­ing the notes, how­ever...

LOOK­ING BACK, I WISH I WENT TO AMER­ICA ON A SOC­CER SCHOL­AR­SHIP; a few of my team­mates went and then ended up com­ing home and play­ing for Ar­se­nal, but I was a home bird. There are more op­por­tu­ni­ties now for women to turn pro­fes­sional and earn a liv­ing with the Women’s Su­per League in Eng­land do­ing well.

MY FIRST LIVE SPORTS BROAD­CAST WAS FOR CLARE FM. I cov­ered a Gaelic foot­ball match be­tween Clare and Kerry about 12 years ago. It was cold and windy, but I was de­lighted to be there. It was a much more re­laxed scene back then in terms of ac­cess to play­ers. I sat on a bench be­side the subs, up close to the ac­tion, and ev­ery­one was happy to talk af­ter the game. It’s not as easy to get in­ter­views any more.

PRO­FES­SION­ALLY, CLIONA FO­LEY IS SOME­ONE I ’ VE AL­WAYS AD­MIRED. When it comes to trail­blaz­ers in sports jour­nal­ism, she is at the fore­front. When I first started out on the beat as a jour­nal­ist, she was a huge sup­port; it was al­ways great to see her name on sto­ries and her by­line pic­ture – as the say­ing goes, “if you can’t see, you can’t be”. I’M ONE OF SEVEN CHIL­DREN, SO MY MAM AND DAD ARE HUGELY IN­SPIR­ING TOO; they spent their lives driv­ing us around to train­ing and matches. It’s only now, with kids of my own, that I re­alise how much time that takes up. They al­ways put us first and in­stilled a love of sport in us, with­out which I wouldn’t be do­ing the job I am to­day.

THERE IS NO GLAM­OUR IN SPORTS JOUR­NAL­ISM. We’ve all sol­diered to­gether on cold, wet win­ter nights re­port­ing on games. Ev­ery­one is treated the same – male and fe­male. How­ever, I find peo­ple ask me ques­tions they would never di­rect at my male col­leagues, such as, do I like sport? That’s just ab­surd.

THERE ARE DAYS WHEN I’LL LOOK AROUND THE PRESS ROOM AF­TER A GAME, AND I AM THE ONLY FE­MALE FACE. That said, there are lots of bril­liant women fronting the most watched sports shows in the coun­try and re­port­ing on the big events, but the bal­ance is still not there in print. Things are im­prov­ing, but we’ve a way to go yet.

I HAVE THREE BOYS, SO IT’S AL­WAYS A JUG­GLE. The el­dest is six and the youngest is two, so it’s hec­tic. But I’m lucky that my hus­band is a teacher, so he is off at week­ends and dur­ing the sum­mer months, when my job is busiest. Plus, he’s a sports fa­natic too, so the boys spend most of their time at matches. THE AD­VICE I WOULD GIVE TO ANY YOUNG WOMAN LOOK­ING TO BREAK INTO SPORTS RE­PORT­ING is the same ad­vice I would give any­one, re­gard­less of gen­der. Work hard, be ver­sa­tile, and don’t wait for an edi­tor to give you some­thing to do – pitch your own sto­ries and ideas.

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