Meet the woman who's winning rugby medals at 53

Off The Bench presenter Cliona Foley speaks to Eileen McCarthy

BY Raf Diallo 15:03 Tuesday 9 May 2017, 15:03 9 May 2017

©INPHO/James Crombie

On a regular basis, people prove that age is just a number.

One of those remarkable people is Eileen McCarthy, who last month won her first rugby medal at the age of 53 with Bantry Bay RFC.

Indeed, the front row plays on the same team as her 23 year old daughter who features on the wing.

On this month's Off The Bench Women In Sports podcast, McCarthy joined journalist Cliona Foley to talk about maintaining a sports career up to this point in life and taking up rugby at the age of 50.

"I've got the strength and she's got the speed," she jokes about the qualities she and her daughter bring to the Bantry Bay team.

"Originally I did start [rugby] when I was about 40 but my appendix burst, so that was the end of that foray into rugby.  

McCarthy, who had also played both Gaelic football and soccer in her early years, had taken a long break from sport while her children were young before returning to soccer in 2000.

Similarly to her soccer comeback, rugby came inadvertently as her daughter joined a team.

"My daughter just wanted to try rugby and she didn't know any of the girls there," McCarthy explains.

"She was kind of saying, 'I won't know anyone'. So I said I'd go with her to break the ice and then Damien the trainer said 'Go on, step away in there and give it a try'. It was grand but I thought I wouldn't have a notion and wouldn't fit in there at all. But it was perfect." 

McCarthy is now three years into her current foray into rugby and as the medal shows, it's going well and as she says, she had no reservations about taking up the sport in her 50s. And major injuries have been avoided.

"The worst I've got is a black eye. Now this was a massive black eye but it wasn't sore or anything, just blackened and bruised," she says.  

You can listen to the full interview on the podcast player below or on iTunes:

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