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'I'm just happy to be back playing football' - Dublin star's uncertainty over Aussie Rules return

Sinéad Goldrick has been offered a second year at Melbourne – the question is whether she will go again.

STAY OR GO, that’s the big question.

And Dublin great Sinéad Goldrick is currently weighing up all her options.

Screenshot 2020-07-21 at 15.53.06 Dublin star Sinéad Goldrick was on hand as Kellog welcomed its one-millionth participant to the Kellog's Cúl Camps. Source: SPORTSFILE.

The seven-time All-Star has been offered a new contract with Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] side Melbourne after her stunning debut season exploits, but uncertainty reigns over her future.

The option to return to Australia is certainly there for Goldrick, but no concrete decision has been made yet.

She and her three-in-a-row All-Ireland winning team-mate Niamh McEvoy were sent home in a haste as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold across the world. They missed the AFLW Finals Series before the season was ultimately cancelled, with Melbourne stating they “look forward to hopefully seeing them back next season” after the Dublin duo’s departure.

Now, a decision on whether they’ll return or not must be made by the end of August.

“I know a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, do you know?’ I actually don’t,” Goldrick, who made it very clear she’s delighted football is back, said on a Zoom call this afternoon.

“Covid is one thing, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Will the GAA season go ahead? And then also, I don’t know what the plans are for Dublin next year or anything like that. I’m not really too sure of my personal decision over what I’m going to do.

“I’m just going to directly chat to Dublin and my club team to see what the situation is and just have that open conversation. Everyone’s situation is different. I will be having that chat with Mick [Bohan, Dublin manager] and everything like that pretty soon but now it’s just club season.

“You have until the end of August to make that decision. I’m really thinking about it, but I just really don’t know what’s happening now.”

A second lockdown in Melbourne and international travel restrictions are adding to her current dilemma, with a ladies football-Australian Rules clash also on the cards.

While the AFLW — which 18 Irish players were involved in last season — will return unchanged in 2021, there looks to be an overlap with the 2020 inter-county football calendar.

aflw-magpies-demons Goldrick is tackled by a Collingwood player. Source: AAP/PA Images

The TG4 All-Ireland championships will be run off from October until December, which clashes with the AFLW pre-season period. Delayed arrivals to Australia could be explored, though one sport or the other may need to be chosen.

Mayo manager Peter Leahy recently said his players will have to decide whether to commit fully to the Green and Red set-up or to AFLW going forward.

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The Westerners were the side hardest hit last season, with four of their top stars missing the league to play Down Under, and Goldrick is unsure whether other counties will follow suit with similar rulings.

“I don’t know,” she conceded. “How the structure is, it’s down to the team and the players there and what that culture is or what the team wants.

“I can’t really speak about anyone else but Dublin on that. Because, you know, there’s Tipperary, there’s Donegal, there’s a lot of other players that are in a similar position and there might be other players that have been approached. I’m not really too sure.”

“Dublin and Fox-Cab are my number one,” the multiple All-Ireland winner later added when sharing her joy to be back on the pitch, “and Gaelic will always be number one for me anyway.”

While not letting her mind wander too much towards a “scary but exciting” new-look All-Ireland senior championship which will see Dublin bid for four-in-a-row, ‘Goldie’ is pleased to be focusing full-time on her club football exploits with county and provincial kingpins Foxrock-Cabinteely.

Having helped the side past Ballyboden St Enda’s at the weekend, the 30-year-old is just delighted to be back in action after the Covid-19 enforced lay-off and is hoping that the season will continue as planned despite some shutdown fears.

“I didn’t think there might be a championship at all at times,” Goldrick, who is feeling fit and ready after some struggles with injury, concedes. “In reality, I know that it could be pulled in a day or anything like that.

Screenshot 2020-07-21 at 16.33.04 Dublin stars Goldrick and Ciarán Kilkenny marking the Kellog's Cúl Camps' one millionth participant. Source: SPORTSFILE.

“Personally, for me, I’m just going to keep thinking that it will happen because that is what will give you the motivation to train and perform. I don’t really let myself think about that. It’s out of our control and I think it’s just really important to keep doing what we’re doing with the social distancing and wearing masks.

“The players and everyone around the country had a huge boost [with games back]. GAA is part of our national identity, sport in general is — rugby will be back in September and everything like that — so we just hope that it still goes ahead.

“I don’t really think about it being cancelled because for me, I’m just happy that it’s happening.”

“I don’t think people believe me but at this moment in time, I’m just not thinking about club championship or Dublin and the All-Ireland, I’m just happy to be back playing,” she concludes. “Once those championship games come, that will definitely change.”

***

Dublin footballer Sinéad Goldrick was on hand as Kellogg Celebrated its 1 Millionth Child at the beginning of the 2020 Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps. 

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Emma Duffy

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