Sport NI Chairman George Lucas recently joined spectators at the 2017 All Ireland Ladies Gaelic Football Final at Croke Park. Here, he talks about his experiences:

At Sport NI, we are committed to increasing participation by women and girls in sport, whether it’s through our Every Body Active 2020 participation programme, or through the work with our partners in delivering the ‘Active Fit and Sporty’ project.

The last few months have seen an incredible summer for female sport, with the UEFA Women’s U19s Finals, Women’s Rugby World Cup and Féile Peil na nÓg all taking place. This was topped off with the announcement of a further investment of nearly £120,000 into creating opportunities for women and girls to get active and develop leadership skills through sport and physical activity, as part of the Active Fit and Sporty project.

That’s why it was a great pleasure for me and fellow Sport NI Board Member Darryl Petticrew to be among the thousands of spectators at the recent ladies All Ireland Final at Croke Park.

The 2017 football finals saw a record attendance of 46,286 spectators, an increase of 12,000 from the 2016 finals, and being there it wasn’t hard to see why. The Junior Final saw a battle between toe Ulster sides – Fermanagh and Derry, with a last minute penalty from Fermanagh’s Sharon Murphy seeing them snatch a draw of 3-7 against 2-10 for Derry. With the replay due to take place this weekend, I would like to wish both teams the very best of luck.

The day continued with the Intermediate Final, where, despite a brave display by Tyrone, they were ultimately defeated by Tipperary 1-13 to 1-10. That set up a thriller in the Senior Final, with Dublin emerging victorious over Mayo by just one point, winning 1-17 to 1-16 to secure their third successive Senior title. Throughout the whole day there was an amazing atmosphere at the event, with a filled out arena all routing for their local sides. The enthusiasm and the passion for the sport was contagious and it was hard not to get caught up in the drama.

The whole day was a tremendous showcase for the sport, and a great example of how female sport continues to grow and thrive. This extended to the half time events when the programme included participation from Lidl Gaelic4Mothers&Others, which is an innovative initiative thinking of unique ways to introduce mothers to take part in Gaelic football in a fun, non-competitive and social environment.

A sincere thank you for the kind invite and for an amazing day, it was wonderful to be part of the experience, and as Chair of Sport NI, it has left me even more inspired to continue our work to encourage more women and girls to get active, fit and sporty.

Pictured below: Darryl Petticrew (Board Member, Sport NI),Brian McAvoy (CEO, Ulster GAA), George Lucas (Sport NI Chair), Michael Hasson (President Ulster GAA) and his wife Noleen,at Ladies Football Finals in Croke Park.

all ireland ladies