BRÍD Stack’s admiration for West Cork sport shone through following her appearance as guest speaker at the recent Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Sports Star Awards.
The 11-time All-Ireland senior winner and her family moved to Australia late last year following Stack’s decision to sign for Aussie Rules club Great Western Sydney Giants.
Unfortunately, the former Cork star suffered a neck injury during her debut for the Giants in a practice match against Adelaide Crows in January. The former St Val’s and Rebels’ star put herself through a rigorous training regime in an attempt to make a full recovery, but subsequent scans revealed Stack’s season is over.
The move to Australia has proven an emotional roller coaster for the instantly likeable Stack who leaned on her team-mates and club and especially her husband Cárthach Keane – a well-known Newcestown footballer and hurler – and young son Cárthach Óg for support.
‘Cárthach is a competitive person and would always push me to be as competitive as I can be,’ Stack says.
‘I have needed that encouragement and competitiveness at certain stages of the journey, especially here in Australia. I definitely needed that after the initial shock of sustaining my injury. Having Cárthach to help me stay focused, positive and on track was absolutely vital. It was a case of focussing in on the smaller goals and try to achieve them each day as part of my overall recovery.
‘Thankfully, I am now back doing a bit of non-contact training. There were definitely times just in the last six weeks when I didn’t know if that was going to be possible. That is down to Cárthach and the way he has supported me and kept pushing me. He knows me inside out and knows my character. Cárthach knows how I respond to that type of encouragement as opposed to being mollycoddled. He has been wonderful from that side of things.’
Bríd and Cárthach’s young son, Cárthach Óg, has proven a big hit on his mother’s Instagram account. The youngster’s Australian adventures have provided his parents with a timely reminder of life’s more important moments.
‘As for my small boy, it is hard to put into words what he means to Cárthach and I,’ Stack says.
‘The couple of hours after I suffered my injury and the first night I was back home, he just carried on as normal. We had to get up the next morning and carry on as normal too because he wanted mammy and daddy to go do something with him. Cárthach Óg is a tonic, an absolute tonic. He is at the stage of his young life where he is discovering how to communicate with us. We are just having an absolute ball with him.
‘More than anything, our son has made it easy for us to see what’s really important and put things into perspective after everything that’s happened over the last few months.
‘As a family, when he was younger, we missed out on a lot of experiences due to the lockdowns. Now, Cárthach Óg is able to tell us how much he is enjoying all his experiences and that’s lovely. Seeing the wonder and awe in his face is something really special. He’s an easy-going child and just rolls with it.
‘He’s the reason we get up every single morning. As I said, I really needed that during in the initial stages of getting over my injury. Cárthach Óg lights up our day, every single day. Things could have been hugely different for us but thank God, they weren’t. Now it is a case of enjoying every single moment.’
Bríd Stack was honoured to be invited to the recent West Cork Sports Star Awards virtual event as a guest speaker.
The importance of being recognised by the people from your own area is as valuable as any national or international award according to the former Cork senior footballer.
‘To be honest, I was a bit taken aback when I got the phone call inviting me to speak at this year’s awards,’ Stack says.
‘That’s because I know how prestigious this ceremony is to the people of West Cork. To be invited as a guest speaker was a huge honour. Looking back at last year, Jacqui Hurley (2020 guest speaker) who is a mentor of mine, did a fantastic job so I knew I had big boots to fill. I hope I did it justice.
‘I am immensely proud of where I come from. I know that there are an awful lot of West Cork people, including the West Cork Sports Star award nominees and winners, who feel the same way about whey they are from. Being respected and revered by the people you grew up with and who live in your area is one of the things anyone involved in sport holds dearest.
‘Seeing so many West Cork athletes being honoured by their neighbours and local townspeople is a beautiful thing. That’s why I believe these West Cork Sports Star awards hold more weight than anything else they might have won. Being respected in your area is marvellous and every single one of the athletes is deserving of that.’
Stack also believes that young girls, from inside or outside West Cork, seeing their local sports personalities being recognised for their achievements is equally important.
‘It was fantastic to see so many women represented on the list of West Cork Sports Star monthly winners,’ the seven-time All-Star says.
‘A rural area like West Cork is fortunate to have produced such a huge number of male and female role models across so many different sporting disciplines.
‘I was lucky enough to be at last year’s Cork LGFA county final when West Cork put on a marvellous display of football to become senior champions for the first time. For a ladies football team to be held in such high esteem is wonderful to see.
‘Even more importantly, West Cork were recognised for their achievements with a Team of the Year award. West Cork deservedly got that award not just for one year’s hard work, but for all the years of managing to keep a divisional team, drawn from such a wide rural area, together. So, to make that work year after year and finally get the (county) success they deserved was fantastic to see for everyone associated with West Cork ladies football.
‘I came from a small club myself. There are plenty of similar small clubs in West Cork. It is important that girls can see a pathway to becoming a club or even inter-county player. Being able to realise your dreams is what it is all about. That starts with your club and the support systems around you.’