EACH YEAR SINCE 2018, Dublin forward Lyndsey Davey has contemplated retirement from inter-county duty.
She linked up with the squad as a 14-year-old in 2004, played in her debut All-Ireland final at 15 and won her first All-Star when she was just 16.
At 31, she has spent well over half her life as a Dublin senior footballer.
After being coaxed back into the set-up by Mick Bohan each winter, Davey planned on making campaign number 17 her last in 2020.
A firefighter based in Dublin airport, Davey remained coy about her plans in the aftermath of the four-in-a-row victory and admits she has yet to make a decision about returning in 2021.
“No one knows what is happening at the moment with regards to the season ahead so I haven’t made a decision at the moment,” she says.
“The body is good, and I suppose with everything that is going on with Covid work is my main priority. Thankfully Mick has been great there hasn’t been any pressure on committing to the season.
“Normally with work I’m very reliant on getting cover for my shifts from other crews but because of Covid we can’t swap crews so we have to work our own roster so that is a challenge we’d have to look into.
“Look, there‘s no decision having to be made yet because we don’t know what the season will look like. Are we looking at another winter championship possibly? Thankfully we are a bit out from that so there’s time to decide what we want to do.”
Three of her Dublin team-mates – Sinead Goldrick, Lauren Magee and Niamh McEvoy – are part of the growing Irish cohort playing in the AFLW.
It’s an opportunity Davey has considered in the past and while she hasn’t ruled out the prospect of heading Down Under at some point in the future, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.
“I was looking into it at the beginning of last year but [decided not to go] just because of my career which is something I am very focused on. I would have started my paramedic training last year, I explored the option but I was happy to stay here with my job to be honest.
“I would never turn down an opportunity and I always definitely explore the options and see. At the moment I am doing my paramedic training and my internship is a two-year programme so I only started that in September so I have still a good way to go in that before getting qualified as a paramedic.
“That would be my main focus at the moment. It would definitely be an opportunity at the moment that I would not see as feasible and I am happy in my career.”
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If she does decide to make the move in a couple of years, she need only look to the likes of Cora Staunton and Brid Stack for inspiration.
39-year-old Staunton scored four goals for Greater Western Sydney Giants last weekend, while Stack spent two seasons in inter-county retirement before she signed with the same club aged 34 ahead of 2021.
“I don’t know if my body will be in the same position at that age, but we’ll see what happens,” she says of Mayo great Staunton.
“I’m just trying to get through year to year at the moment. It goes to show what you can do when you do look after your body. She’s had a really long career and she’s still flying, which is massive credit to herself.”
Because of the short AFLW season, Ladies footballers can fly home after it finishes and line out with their counties in the All-Ireland championship. But as the Australian league expands, Irish players may be forced to chose between GAA and professional sport.
“At the moment I think it is fantastic for the players who have the opportunity go over because that is what they want to do and that is great,” Davey says.
“We have girls over there and it is great they are able to do that but I think in the long term every season there seems to be more games added to the schedule which means the season is going further and further into the year.
“The finals are in April this year so if this was a normal season it would be encroaching further and further into the league. Whereas if that goes into mid-summer, down the line it is going to have be a case of girls making the decision of either playing one or the other.
“But then it is up to how understanding a manager will be if a player misses half the season and the comes back just for the beginning of the championship.
“I think that is something that will cause an issue for players down the line where they will have to make that decision.”
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