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Image / Self / Real-life Stories

Women in Sport: Mayo GAA & Collingwood AFLW athlete Sarah Rowe


By Sarah Gill
20th Nov 2022
Women in Sport: Mayo GAA & Collingwood AFLW athlete Sarah Rowe

Mayo GAA and Collingwood AFL Women’s athlete Sarah Rowe on her daily routine, her proudest sporting achievements, and how she minds her mental health.

Sarah Rowe is a born and bred Mayo woman who started out on her sporting journey by playing soccer with Castlebar Celtic, before moving to Raheny and then Shelbourne.

Having competed with Ireland at u15, u17,u19 and senior level, Sarah also played GAA with Mayo from u12 to senior level before she got the opportunity to sign a semi professional contract with Collingwood, where she’s been for the last 5 years.

Sarah Rowe

Name: Sarah Rowe

Profession: AFLW athlete

Earliest sporting memory?

Mini 7s competition in the quay primary school, and cross country at school level as well. Lots of lessons learned in primary school under one of the biggest influences in my career, Hugh Lynn.

How did you become involved in your sport?

I got scouted from GAA after playing in an All Ireland final with Mayo in 2017. Prior to that I was playing soccer for Ireland.

What message would you like to share with young women and girls interested in pursuing a career as an athlete?

Hard work and continuous learning is something you can control and your attitude to this too. Sport can be uncontrollable at times but focusing on what you can control can help you grow at a continuous rate. Also, march to the beat of your own drum. Always remember in sport and life you bring something that no one else can bring.

Proudest moment so far…

All Ireland final with Mayo ladies and European semi finals with the Irish u19s.

The female athlete I admire most is…

Katie McCabe, because I’ve been her teammate before and I’ve watched her grow and develop into an incredible leader and player. She was always special but being special isn’t always enough. The work has to go in and she does that day in day out and I have massive respect for that.

Favourite sporting memory…

Beating Turkey to qualify for the European finals.

Do you think there is still a stigma around women in sport?

It’s improved a lot in Ireland because the structures are better than before but Australia has a bit to go in terms of the level of respect. I feel very respected in Ireland as an athlete growing up in the female industry but that’s taken time and I think what we expect we get so it’s simply not good enough anymore for there to be less than equal opportunities for both. The world is changing so we all need to keep evolving and growing with the changing times and both women and men can help this. It needs to be how can men help women and how can women help men to improve? We can work together, it’s not us against them!

What is the biggest barrier to driving visibility in women’s sports?

TV and media need to promote individuals and teams as much as possible. Can’t see, can’t be! I for example never saw a pathway in soccer because at the time there wasn’t one so then I ended up picking GAA. Had there been more visibility maybe I would have taken a different road.

The biggest stigma/preconception that exists in women’s sport is…

That we are not as good as men. We are different. That’s like saying the male and female mind work the same. It’s obvious they don’t! We bring something different and it’s not lesser it’s just different, we can embrace that and cherish that.

If I wasn’t an athlete I would be…

I would work with people on their minds. We live inside our two ears for our whole life. It’s so important to put constant effort into your mind and being the best you that you can be and it’s an ongoing process like eating healthily. Be conscious of everything you allow into your mind and how it can impact your life. Becoming self-aware can solve so many problems. So working with people on trying to become the best them would be my dream job. I love connecting with others. It helps me grow and learn too!

My favourite pre-competition/fight/game meal is…

Overnight oats by Daniel Davey!

My pre-competition/fight/game playlist includes…

Anything! I’m so random when it comes to music but anything from Nelly to Westlife to Eminem, god knows haha

My daily routine is…

  • Get up
  • Journal
  • Walk
  • Coffee
  • Breakfast
  • Gym
  • Life admin
  • 2 hours of work with AIA or Deloitte
  • Train from 4-9.30
  • Then recovery food
  • Bed
  • That’s what my weekdays look like!

Sports brands I love (Irish or otherwise)…

Adidas.

Biggest splurge to celebrate a win…

I’m partial to a few margarita cocktails! Also big fan of pick and mix jellies.

How do you mind your mental health?

It’s an ongoing process, but I work on it everyday. I journal, I reflect, and I stay accountable to my psychologist once a week. Mum and dad also help me a lot. I’m very open with them, they are both so wise and I talk through all my life problems with them, there is very little they don’t know. They help me so much. Reading and learning also helps me with mindfulness. My mind needs information to grow and that’s an everyday thing. I’m so lucky with my family I can’t thank them enough.

My three desert island beauty products are:

Mascara moisturiser and hairbrush.

Confidence, to me, is…

Being grateful for what I have and finding meaning in everyday life. Confidence is an ongoing process that is worked on through good habits, and I believe and surrounding yourself with people that believe in you is a huge help.

How do you get over a bad performance?

Analyse it. Take feedback on board. Chew some up, spit some back out, and go back to what I can control and rebuild myself again. It’s hard. I’ve gotten better at compartmentalising it! The highs and lows in sport are inevitable!

Lastly, why is sport such an integral part of community, on a club, local, national and personal level?

Because it can have an impact on so many people’s lives. I sometimes only realise this when fans at our games come up to us after and there are little boys and girls looking at me with stars in their eyes. It brings people together. You see people reaching their highest highs and lowest lows and there is so much power in that vulnerability. I am who I am because of sport and it’s a non-stop learning curve of so many highs and lows! I can’t thank sports enough.