Work this way: Sports journalist Marie Crowe on her pitch side experiences

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 played 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...

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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.

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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.

This article was originally published in the April 2019 issue of IMAGE magazine which is on sale nationwide now. 

Image: @mariecrowemc Instagram 


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