Even if you’ve never watched a game of camogie you’ve probably seen or heard Anna Geary. The former All-Ireland winning Cork camogie captain has seemlessy made the transition from pitch to pundit and is now a regular face and voice on our TV screens and radios.
A coach on RTÉ’s Ireland’s Fittest Family, her sports broadcasting roles include a being regular analyst on Radio 1’s The Marty Squad, a reporter on Eir Sport, and a contributor to RTÉ’s The Sunday Game.
Anna’s also wracking up column inches writing for The Irish Sun and, just to round things out, is a Littlewoods GAA style ambassador.
Her analytic skills don’t just come in handy when discussing sports however, her day-job as a qualified performance coach sees Anna working with businesses, teams and individuals to maximise their potential.
“It’s not sports psychology,” she explains, “when it comes to performance it doesn’t matter if just one person or a whole business you can always improve in so many different ways.”
Hoping to absorb some of her motivational wisdom, we chatted to Anna about her she helps others and her own life goals, though (spoiler alert) she admits even she sometimes can’t find the motivation to resist banoffee pie.
What was your life goal aged 10?
What I wanted to be was the President of Ireland. I know, talk about setting your ambitions high!
And what is it now?
When I was in college I wanted to be a CEO of a company, and that is not an ambition of mine now. Genuinely my goal in life now is two-fold, number one; to get up every morning and love what I’m doing. Whether that’s in work or in the relationships that I am in, I want to be in good, positive place.
Secondly, I want to leave some sort of legacy. That starts with being a really kind, positive person to be around, and also factors into my career, doing something for people that I will be remembered for. Those values mean more to me than money.
Did you ever think you would become a familiar face on the nation’s screens?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have an interest in it, I always had a fascination with this world when I was growing up. I got a chance to dip my toe in it when I was playing with Cork and was representing the Camogie Association doing interviews. I loved the buzz, but I didn’t ever think I’d get a chance to do it.
While the buzz I got from running out onto the pitch at Croke Park will be hard to replace, the buzz I get from someone saying “we’re live in five seconds” is a very good substitute.
“I want to leave some sort of legacy. That starts with being a really kind, positive person.”
When did you get your lucky break?
Funnily enough, the day that it came out publicly that I was retiring from the Cork team that night I got a phone call from Ireland’s Fittest Family! Up until then I was doing bits and pieces on TV and radio, nothing regular, and I was already a fan of the show so it was an easy yes.
Then Marty Morrissey was very kind to offer me regular slot on the ‘Marty Squad’ on Sunday evenings on Radio One during the hurling and football championship. That was a great chance to get an hour on the radio each week discussing the games with really respected pundits and players. I had one foot in TV and one in radio then.
You are one of the few Irish female sports personalities in Ireland, do you think this is a trend that will change?
Thankfully there are so many more female presenters nowadays. We have Jacqui Hurley, Joanne Cantwell, Evanne Ní Chuilinn, Clare McNamara, so many women now that are stepping up.
While we still may have some way to go on a punditry level I think the Women’s Rugby World Cup did a lot for how people view female pundits; they were controversial at times, honest when they needed to be, and it showed that it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, if you’re good enough, you’re good enough.
Do you think it’s fair that men’s sport gets more coverage than women’s?
The landscape is changing. I started with the Cork camogie team in 2003 and there was no comparison between the coverage then and when I captained the team in 2014. The reach has grown along with intensity and athleticism of the sport. This year’s final had the highest attendance of any female game in Europe.
But there is a long way to go. I am part of the Women’s GPA and increasing reach is something we constantly strive for. You can’t talk about young people, male and female, needing role models in sport and then not giving them exposure.
At the moment there is a much bigger following for male sports, so naturally that gets more coverage, but we have a responsibility to push women’s sport to grow the audience, and the column inches and TV minutes will follow.
“It showed that it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, if you’re good enough, you’re good enough.”
How do you think more women could be encouraged to get involved in sports?
There is a massive drop off rate with teenage girls and the big thing is that there are so many distractions nowadays, they have so many choices. But I have spoken to so many people and they really regret having fallen out of sport at a young age.
I think that parents have a massive responsibility and need to weigh up the value of getting their kids involved in sports, even if they are not sporty thmeselves.
I might be biased but sport has huge advantages, from mental and physical health benefits, to building support networks and relationships – I’ve even made a career from sport!
What is your favourite way to keep fit?
Although I’m retired from playing with Cork I still play camogie at club level, and still train at a high level with my team. We won three All-Ireland titles in the space of four years!
Keeping fit is really important to me. Physical benefits aside, it is so good for my mental health. No matter what’s going on in my life, I get up in the morning and exercise and it gives me so much energy. I like short intense gym sessions, I don’t believe in being in there any longer than 50 minutes.
As a performance coach, what services do you offer your clients?
It’s a very bespoke service. Whether it’s one-to-one or a company, I’ll meet with the client and discuss what how they think they can improve their performance. Sometimes what they think they need and what they really need can be very different!
A business could think they have issues with motivation, but it’s actually the communication channels that have broken down.
We’ll trash it out and come up with a strategy. There’s always a root cause and I’ll dig to find that. Gone are with the days that you could just go in and give a motivational speech, there has to be a follow up, and no one programme fits all.
When you’re stuck for time, what is your go-to healthy dinner?
Chicken or beef stir-fry.
And what’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Banoffee pie or pizza – I couldn’t choose between the two!
What do consider your greatest achievement?
Learning to drive, because I was terrified. I didn’t learn until I was twenty-three!
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear would be to wake up every day and hating what I do.
What would your super power be?
Stopping time. Because we all rush into decisions, or arguments, or could really do with just ten minutes to stop and think about something. A lot of things could be solved if we could just press pause.
Where is your favourite place in the world and what makes it so special?
I know this might sound very sad, but it’s home. I don’t get to go home that often so I really value the time I spend there.
“My greatest fear would be to wake up every day and hating what I do.”
What is top of your bucket list?
To drive Route 66.
What is your phone wallpaper?
My wallpaper is a photo of me and my other half, Kevin, at a wedding last year. My locked screen is a quote, it says “but what if I fall? But my dear, what if you fly.”
What are your plans for 2018?
I’m talking to Eir Sport about increasing my coverage with them. I’ve a new RTÉ series called Tracks and Trails in the pipeline, and there are a few very exciting projects coming up, which I can’t disclose just yet! People stay tuned – I’m definitely going to be pushing myself out my comfort zone.
I’m also a Littlewoods ambassador. This was the first year they sponsored the GAA championships and from next year we are going to be doing bigger and better things. It’s great to have them involved as it brings fashion and sports together, and shows young girls that both are great ways of expressing yourself and can go hand in hand.