Seán Creedon talks to the leading sports broadcaster who in 2009 became the first ever female anchor of Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio One. She is also author of the award-winning Girls Play Too children’s books, the second of which has just been published.
In recent years we have seen a huge growth in the number of female sports presenters and match analysts on our radio and television stations. Jacqui Hurley is among the presenters now working full time on sport along with Joanne Cantwell, Evanne Ní Chuilinn, Marie Crowe, Clare MacNamara, Siobhán Madigan, Sinéad Kissane and Ger Treacy.
The Cork-born presenter is equally at home on radio or television. Jacqui now anchors RTÉ’s Sunday Sport programme, usually with Darren Frehill and she also presents the sports bulletins for RTÉ’s evening news programmes. She has hosted various television events like the Olympics, Women’s World Cup and European Championships and just before the first lockdown she made her debut on Up for the Match.
We met in what was a very quiet RTÉ canteen due to Covid, to talk about Jacqui’s early days in Cork and Australia, how she made the break into sports journalism and the second edition of her book Girls Play Too (Merrion Press £14.95).
This is the second book in the series; the first issue, also titled Girls Play Too, was published last year and was shortlisted for the Irish Children’s Book of the Year. It featured the inspiring stories of twenty-five Irish sports women. The second book is along the same lines and among the twenty-five girls featured this time include Anna Geary, Orla O’Dwyer, Nina Carberry, Lynne Cantwell and Valerie Mulcahy.
Jacqui, who has been kept busy working on two books during three lockdowns, said: ‘‘It was no problem filling a second book, the difficult part was who to leave out. I have always said that sport isn’t just for boys and this book isn’t just for girls. I want boys to read this book also and say to themselves Katie McCabe is a great soccer player or Sinéad Goldrick was part of the Dublin Ladies footballers four in-a-row team.’’
I wondered where the Christian name Jacqui came from? Back in the sixties a lot of young Irish girls got their Christian names as their mothers were fans of the late Jackie Kennedy. Jacqui explained: ‘‘My sister Triona, who at 38 is a year older than me and I think my parents thought I was going to be a boy. So they had only one name picked, Jackie. Then one day a neighbour dropped in a magazine to my mother and on the cover was a picture of film star Jacqueline Bisset and my mother said that looks good, we will go with Jacqui.’’