Sarah Rowe: ‘A decision will have to be made’ on ladies football or AFL

It’s been a hectic few years for Sarah Rowe. The Mayo star’s talents don’t solely lie on the Gaelic football pitch, after excelling on the soccer field and starting a professional sports career in Australian Rules.

She enjoyed two successful seasons in the Women’s AFL with Collingwood, returning to Ireland to represent Mayo in the championship.

But with the growing demands at the elite level of women’s sport, how sustainable is such a dual career going forward?

“Communication is the key thing in all of this,” Rowe said. “Since I’ve came home I’ve been keeping in touch with Mayo, keeping in touch with the club, all that kind of stuff.

“Down the line it is definitely going to be more demanding, both Gaelic Football and AFL so a decision will have to be made at some point. I think for me at the moment it is too uncertain with travel restrictions and all of that kind of stuff. I’m just taking it one day at a time, looking at the club first, and after that, Mayo.

“I think it is a personal decision you are going to have to make for yourself.”

Many feel that it is a tricky balancing act, but the 24-year-old feels it’s manageable right now.

“I suppose each individual has to do what is best for them,” she continued. “At the end of the day they see it as an opportunity or a learning or something they can get out of it – go for it. If not stay at home and play Gaelic football. There are lots of different ways of looking at it, but for me I saw it as something that was achievable to do both. That is why it was very appealing for me.”

And at present, she has yet to have talks with Collingwood about a contract for next season.

“I’m in contact with the girls more so. The signing date is between the first and 17th of August, I don’t think they are allowed to start having conversations yet with players. There has been no word that way.”

Nonetheless, she feels the experience of professional sport in Australia will help her.

“It’s similar in ways,” she said, comparing the two sports.

“You’re more of an endurance athlete when you’re with the AFL. Then you come back into football and it’s all like fast-twitch stuff. So you have to transition your training from one thing to the other.

“I’d be covering a lot of distance over in Australia, where[as] when I come home it is all short, sharp stuff. That is something I need to keep in mind and something I probably would have learned from the season before. Now I know what way to phase my training. In terms of things I’ve learned, it was probably a lot on mindset, leadership, and what a professional athlete looks like, the way you should train and behave as well is a big thing. Mindset has a huge part to play in it.”

And she’ll be hoping to put that to good use on the field of play in the coming weeks. With the draw for the All-Ireland Ladies Football Championship made last week, a semblance of normality has returned.

“It gives you a bit of focus, and you’ve a time-frame,” she explained.

“Over the last couple of weeks, you’ve been left to your own devices to a certain extent. And then you’ve been given programmes then. It was very up and down all the time, because you didn’t know what was coming.

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