The comeback women who is Annaghadown’s driving force

Former Galway ladies football star and Annaghdown's spiritual leader, Fiona Wynne, who, nine years after retiring from the game, will line out for her club in this Sunday's All-Ireland intermediate club final at Parnell Park.
Former Galway ladies football star and Annaghdown's spiritual leader, Fiona Wynne, who, nine years after retiring from the game, will line out for her club in this Sunday's All-Ireland intermediate club final at Parnell Park.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

WHEN Annaghdown native Fiona Wynne retired from club football in 2007, she thought that was it. She had few regrets. As playing careers go, she had achieved more than many, including winning an All-Ireland senior ladies football medal with Galway in 2004 as vice-captain. Box ticked.

Almost a decade on from when she hung up the boots though, Wynne is back in harness and enjoying her football every bit as much as she did in the days when she made Croke Park her playground – the dogged defender even managing to kick a point from corner back in Galway’s All-Ireland junior final defeat to Down in 2000.

Wynne will probably leave the kicking of scores to others when her beloved Annaghdown take on Shane O’Neill’s of Armagh in the All-Ireland intermediate club ladies football final at Parnell Park this Sunday. And, instead, she will do what she does best – be a leader, organise the defence and inspire.

For Wynne, who atoned for that 2000 loss with victory over Donegal two years later at GAA HQ, is tailor-made for days like these and, in another life, she must have been a firefighter. Cool under pressure, in the heat of battle she has this innate ability to see what must be done and, like any good commander, she rallies her team to get it done. Quite simply, Fireman Sam has nothing on this lady.

However, due to turn 40 in the coming months, Wynne cannot believe the time-warp her life has all of a sudden taken. “It is an absolutely surreal feeling, especially winning the Connacht final,” she smiles. “If somebody had told me a couple of years ago that I would win a Connacht medal (on the field of play), I wouldn’t have believed them.”

Ten years ago, it appeared as if Wynne and Annaghdown would claim a coveted provincial crown at intermediate level only to come undone against Geevagh of Sligo in the Connacht final – after a replay. The loss, which still rankles with her, seemed to become the full-stop on her career.

“It was a game we felt we had left behind, especially the first day. The replay hadn’t gone our way with injuries and sin bins and things like that. Then in 2007 I became pregnant with Ciara, our first child, and that was the beginning of a nine-year break from the game,” she laughs.

It was also the beginning of the Wynne-Murtagh ‘baby boom’ – she is married to Tipperary native Eoghan Murtagh – and, today, the Pres. Athenry secondary school teacher has three beautiful daughters, Ciara (8), Éabha (7) and Keelin (4).

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.