Galway WFC ace proud of Rose of Tralee success
Collecting her sash and tiara at a sold-out Tralee Dome, the Offaly native was selected as this year’s winner from an array of 31 other finalists from all around the world at the 58th Rose of Tralee Festival.
“I’m absolutely delighted. It still feels very surreal. I’m just taking it all in and enjoying every moment of it now,” said Byrne.
“It could have been anyone. I’m absolutely honoured to be selected. I’m definitely still in shock. I just went down there to enjoy myself and have a good time and make a lot of friends, and that’s what I did – I really interacted with everyone and I enjoyed the whole experience of the Rose of Tralee.
“Even back for the Offaly Rose selection, with those girls I had a really good time and I really enjoyed it.”
Following a homecoming in Ballinahown, Byrne's journey as Rose of Tralee will begin in earnest, but with the WNL season still in full swing – Galway still have to play Shelbourne Ladies in a Continental Tyres FAI Women's Senior Cup quarter-final as well as taking on UCD Waves in the final of the Shield in mid-September – there is still plenty for Byrne’s team to play for.
“I don’t think I’ll be wearing the tiara, but I’m looking forward to getting back out on the pitch and meeting the girls again," she laughed.
“We have big games ahead, so hopefully we’ll be able to keep our heads and get [to the Aviva Stadium for the Cup Final].
“We’re just hoping to do as well as we can in every game, take every game is it comes and do our best.”
Byrne is keen to make use of her new-found title for good, and she has lots of exciting ideas about raising participation levels in sport, creating a buzz for its positives and getting more kids involved.
“As part of the Rose of Tralee as well I’d love to promote women’s sport and get more people to play sport, especially young girls, because a lot of women give up sports.
“I think we should focus on participation sport as well instead of it all being competitive – so that’s one of my aims as the Rose of Tralee.”
Indeed, Byrne says that her involvement with Galway WFC, and women’s sport in general over the years, stood her in good stead during the festival – after all, she has represented the Republic of Ireland at international level and won honours with NUIG (pictured above with FAI Colleges National Coordinator Mark Scanlon).
“I’d say playing soccer probably helped me a lot because I have a lot of teamwork skills – I’ve been in teams since I was really young, and even though the Rose of Tralee is very different to playing soccer, it’s still a bunch of girls coming together to have a good time, make friends and share a bond together,” she added.