WITH inter-county GAA championship action in full flow, a Cork woman features very much prominently with RTÉ’s coverage on.
Charleville native Valerie Wheeler is forging a name for herself as one of Ireland’s best young sports reporters, backed up by the fact she is an IMRO award-winning sports broadcaster.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be on,” Wheeler tells .
“Growing up it is what I used to watch and sit down on a Sunday evening with dad and watch after maybe going to a game.
“Then for me to be on it now on a Sunday, it is just crazy and sometimes I still have to pinch myself about it. It is an absolute dream come true to be on it.
“RTÉ have been absolutely amazing to me. They have given me every opportunity under the sun. They are such an amazing team up there, from people behind the scenes and production to people presenting and pitchside. They are such a lovely team to deal with."
One element of Wheeler’s work RTÉ andhas been working as a pitchside reporter for the camogie coverage.
Wheeler, who also ranks covering the Olympic Games for RTÉ as a career highlight, outlines: “I think the standout thing for me with the sports broadcasting career overall the last few years is being pitchside for the camogie.
“I love it. I have been there for the quarter-finals, the semi-finals and the finals now for the last few years. Getting the girls' raw emotion immediately after winning a big game like that, it’s special.”
She also gets the chance to work alongside some of the top female sports broadcasters in RTÉ such as Jacqui Hurley and Marie Crowe.
“I looked up to the likes of Joanne Cantwell, Evanne Ní Chuilinn, Jacqui Hurley, Marie Crowe, Claire McNamara. They are all so amazing at what they do and they are there because they are talented.
“It is mad that I get to call them colleagues now. They are definitely big role models for me because they are top of their game at the moment.”
What does she enjoy most in relation to her media work with RTÉ?
“I really, really enjoy it. I know a lot of people might say I don’t have much time for a social life. But when you are sitting there in the stand, when you get that atmosphere and buzz around you from a big game, I think that is what makes me enjoy it.
“RTÉ have been nothing but helpful to me. I am still learning and I am still growing. I know I have a lot to learn as well.
“But when you have a team like that behind you and beside you, they do help.”
Wheeler has really worked hard to get where she is and is a great role model for young girls that may want to pursue a career in sports broadcasting and journalism.
Wheeler also has worked in the past for the likes of Off The Ball and Cork’s Red FM Sport.
For any aspiring young broadcasters out there who hope to one day forge a career in the sports broadcasting industry, Wheeler has this advice: “It is extremely hard work and there are plenty of long hours. But I think hard work and good work will be rewarded.
“For me I had to be patient for a very long time. I worked seven days a week for years, just to get where I am.
“So I think if you enjoy your weekends off, it is not something for you because they are far and few between.
“But I do think that hard work will pay off. Be patient and your opportunity will come.”
Regardless of how the various Rebel teams do on the field of play in the coming months, Valerie Wheeler, who also is radio broadcaster with Spin South West, will be doing Cork proud.