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Ep 19: Mind Your Head! with Jacqui Hurley
Episode 1931st May 2021 • The Kids Are All Right! • The Kids Are All Right! Productions
00:00:00 00:22:50

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In today’s show we have another of our Mind Your Head! shows where we speak with well-known personalities and people with amazing stories to tell about what they do to mind their heads; you know….Mind their Mental Health!

This time we chat with Irish sports broadcaster Jacqui Hurley who presents the sports bulletin on the daily RTÉ News as well as hosting Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio ONE.

She talks to us about how her passion for sport started growing up as a young kid in Australia as her whole family were sports mad and all played lots of different sports in the great Australian weather! But once back in Ireland in her teens, this love of sport continues and in particular she exceled in basketball and camogie….sports she still plays and competes in to this day as a Mum to two young kids!

She talks about how lucky she feels getting to watch and talk about sport as her job too, that she knows she is lucky to be ‘living the dream!’

We hear about her brilliant book ‘Girls Play Too’ which tells the story of X the many incredible sportswomen past and present that maybe we don’t know as much about as we should…and she tells us that she thinks it really important that young girls these days have these incredible role models to look up to and be inspired by – as she tells Buster and Buddy; “Fairy tales can start in your very own back garden if you have a dream and train hard enough!”

Michelle and her team have a collective 50years experience working with kids as teachers, entertainers and parents!

Thanks to Zapsplat, Audio Jingle and Alexander Korotkoff for the sound effects and music.

Check out our social media to see more about the team, our guests, the topics we talk about, our competitions AND how to send us in your stories, jokes, comments or ideas for the podcast!

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Jacqui Hurley

Jacqui Hurley is one of Ireland’s leading sports broadcasters. She is the co-presenter of Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio ONE and presents the sports news on RTÉ television Six One News each day. She is also a regular anchor on RTÉ’s soccer coverage on television.

She has played at the highest level in the sport of basketball as a member of the Irish basketball team and currently manages the Irish under-16 women’s basketball team. She also played to the highest level in camogie as a member of the Cork camogie team.

In 2009 she became the first ever female anchor of Sunday Sport and continues to break the mould releasing her first book ‘Girls Play Too’ in 2020, the first ever compendium of stories for children about our best contemporary sportswomen.

With a fairytale touch, it tells the stories of 25 of Ireland’s leading sportswomen who have proved that being a girl is not a barrier to sporting success and encourages kids to believe that you can achieve is you try your best and never give up on your dreams. 


Michelle Connolly 0:08

Hello and welcome to The Kids Are All Right, a weekly podcast specially for kids that are all about health, happiness and wellness. I'm Michelle and here with me are my co pilots on this podcast Buster and Buddy.

Buddy 0:21

Hey guys. Hey everyone, it's your pal, Buddy!

Michelle Connolly 0:25

And we're on a mission to help you all

Buster 0:27

Feel great and live happy.

Michelle Connolly 0:30

So let's get this show on the road!

Buddy 0:32

Yeah, let's do it!

Buster 0:33


Michelle Connolly 0:37

So guys, today we have another of our special mind your head shows we welcome another mental health ambassador to come and have a chat with us.

Buster 0:44

Oh I'm so excited. I just love the mind your head slots because we get to talk with loads of incredible people with amazing stories to tell.

Buddy 0:53

Yeah, me too, Buster. I love when they talk to us about what they do to mind their heads, you know, keep themselves feeling happy, healthy and well.

Michelle Connolly 1:01

So are you ready guys?

Buddy 1:03

Ready, steady!

Michelle Connolly 1:11

So our special guest coming onto the show today is a very well known face on Irish television.

Buster 1:26

Oh, today's guest is so cool.

Michelle Connolly 1:29

She is one of Ireland's leading sports broadcasters. She presents the daily sports bulletin on the main RTE news and was the first ever female presenter on Sunday sports, which is the main radio sports show on RTE Radio One. She is also a huge sports fan has played basketball and camogie at the highest levels.

Buddy 1:47

It's Jacqui Hurley Oh, I just love her. Yeah!

Michelle Connolly 1:51

But actually, before we get started, there was someone else who wants to pop her head into the show today when she heard who our guest was. She was very excited.

Buddy 1:58

Eh Michelle? Who?

Buster 2:00

Who isn't Michelle? We've never had anyone join us in studio before.

Michelle Connolly 2:04

I know. But you know Buster. You probably actually know her best. Well from school, you know, Lexie, who sits beside you in class

Buster 2:12

Lexi! Oh that's brilliant. Perfect. She knows so much about sports. We're always chatting about the sports on TV and my hockey or football. Oh brilliant. Where is she? Oh Buddy, you'll love Lexi. She is awesome!

Michelle Connolly 2:26

Okay, so she's waiting outside. She wasn't sure how you guys would feel about her joining in but she'd be thrilled, she absolutely loves Jacqui. Lexi! Lexi you can come in now the coast is clear!

Lexi 2:37

Hi, everyone.

Buster 2:39

Hey, Lexi. Welcome to the show. Hey, this is Buddy. Here's my best mate from the road And Buddy, this is Lexi, She's my best mate from the glass.

Buddy 2:48

Hiya Lexi, it's cool to have you on this week's show.

Buster 2:51

Oh my god I'm so excited to be here. I listen every week. I just can't believe I get to be on an interview with Jacqui. I love her. I love her book. She is awesome. I want to be just like her when I grow up. Thanks for letting me be here, Michelle. Hi, everyone listening. I'm Lexie

Michelle Connolly 3:05

Lexi, it's lovely to have another girl in the studio with us. So it's not just me on my own with the boys anymore!

Buddy 3:11

Hey, Oh, nice Michelle!

Michelle Connolly 3:14

Brilliant. So we're delighted to have Jackie Hurley joining us today. Thanks very much, Jackie. We know you're super busy. So it's great to catch some time to chat with you. I have Buster and here with me Say hi to Jackie guys.

Buster 3:24

Hi, Jacqui!

Michelle Connolly 3:26

But, Jacqui, today we actually have someone else with us in studio who really wanted to be here too when she heard you were coming on, as I think she might love sports almost as much as you do. And her name is Lexi.

Lexi 3:39

Hi, Jackie. Oh my god. I'm a big fan. I love watching. you present the sports news on TV. And I too love love love sports. I play football and basketball. Oh, you are like the best basketball player. I'd love to be as good as you someday.

Jacqui Hurley 3:53

Oh, hi, Lexi. I'm delighted to hear this!

Michelle Connolly 3:57

high praise, high praise to start off. So Jacqui, you absolutely love sports. And you know, you've played so many sports over the years basketball and camogie as well to the highest levels and won lots of titles and trophies and everything. So what is it that you love so much about sport?

Jacqui Hurley 4:12

I think in our family, it was always there. Like my mom and dad were really into it. We were always that family that had the big station wagon where there was always kids piled into and we were always going to matches and it was just something that we loved doing. So it was never a kind of a decision of, Will we play sport. It was just what sports will we play and how much of it can we pack into our lives. So thankfully, I've managed to turn it into a job, but it was always a passion of mine.

Michelle Connolly 4:36

And you know while you were born in Ireland, you spent your primary school years in Australia and you I think we all know that Australians just love their sports. So do you think this might be another reason why you're so passionate about sports in general?

Jacqui Hurley 4:48

Yeah, totally. Because Australia like it's such an outdoor country like they really build their lives around sports and I'd love for us to do that more in Ireland but sure the weather really kills a lot of it doesn't?!

Buster 4:58

Yeah, yeah. I love Playing football in the rain though!

Jacqui Hurley 5:01

Oh, yeah, you see, it helps you with the slight tackles as well! Whereas in Australia, it was a bit of a harder turf, but it was definitely one of the reasons why I loved it so much because we were outdoors all the time. So yeah, I love that.

Michelle Connolly 5:13

It's definitely easier to pick up a camogie stick when your hands aren't half frozen from the winter cold.

Jacqui Hurley 5:20


Buddy 5:21

Jacqui, I play rugby, and I just love it show so much. But Michelle says you play basketball and you play camogie. So which one is your favourite sport? Or could you even choose.

Jacqui Hurley 5:33

Ah that's impossible to choose between the two. It's like trying to pick between my children. So, you know, it's um, because I think the one thing that I always loved about playing basketball and camogie is that they rarely clashed; one was in the winter, when it was really horrible outside, I could tuck away and play a nice indoor sport. And then I could play camogie in the summer, when hopefully the sun was shining a little bit more. So thankfully, I don't have to make that decision.

Michelle Connolly 6:04

Brilliant that that worked out perfectly.

Jacqui Hurley 6:06

Yeah perfectly. Yeah, cos it's the right thing to do. Because I think one of the things for kids these days, as well is there's so much choice out there. And it's really hard to try to play everything. But I would always say to kids, try as much sport as you can. Because when you're old like me, you'll still have lots of them that you can still play and dabble in, because you've tried them all when you were a kid and you remember them. Whereas if you were, you know, seven or eight now and you're trying to just focus on one sport, you know, you're kind of limiting yourself then for later in life when there could be lots of stuff that you'd love to play. But then really, for kids, it's just about getting out there and getting engaged and being active and all of us running around. And I think if you ask any kid having their parent on the sideline, it's actually a really good thing.

Buster 6:54

My dad is crazy at my hockey matches, he likes to scream and shout for me to go and I love it. It's brilliant, because it makes me go even faster!

Jacqui Hurley 7:02

It definitely does. As long as you don't shout back at him and say, Dad, stop giving out to me!

Michelle Connolly 7:08

Jackie, we chatted before on this show about the importance of sport for your fitness and for your health and for your general well being. And I've said before how running is a really important thing to me. And it's not just about fitness, it is about my mental health. But there's a lot of people who don't really consider that running is a real sport.

Jacqui Hurley 7:25

That's the problem, isn't it? I think as a country us trying to redefine what sport is would make such a big difference. Because if you're a kid who loves dancing, or you love yoga, or you love BMX riding thats sport too, you know, and whereas I just think in this country, sometimes if you don't play GAA or rugby or soccer, we class people as not sporty. So I would always try to push people to say, look, as long as you're exercising that sport, and just try to enjoy it as much as you can. Because you know you like it's the one thing that keeps people happy. You know, when we talk about mental well being just even just trying to get out and about and do something that makes you smile, whatever that is, I think is a really, really positive thing.

Michelle Connolly 8:05

And I think we have really realised that over the last while with Coronavirus when all those sports are taken away. Maybe we didn't realise how important they were. And now that we've got them back, it's just like, wow!

Jacqui Hurley 8:17

Isn't that exactly what it is? I think we took everything for granted hugs from our parents, walks in the park with our friends, going outside without wearing a mask. You know, I have small children my seven year old son Luke, you know what the first day he got back to GAA he was nearly crying with excitement because he just loved getting back out there again. And that's, that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to appreciate the small things again, share time with each other doing the simple things that we really, really enjoy. And sport is definitely one of those.

Lexi 8:48

Yeah, I love sport. But did you always like dream of making sports into your actual job by becoming a sports presenter?

Jacqui Hurley 8:55

Yeah. And you know what I was one of those kids guys that walked around with a cardboard cutout of the TV, pretending I was the news reader, my mom and dad to be telling me Shut up will you and sit down there, but I was walking around to give everybody the news and doing the sports reports. And even from when I was about three or four it was all I talked about doing.

Michelle Connolly 9:25

Living the dream isn't it, living the dream!

Jacqui Hurley 9:29

Yes. Yeah. And like listen, I think you know, it's a very privileged position to get to live the dream because sometimes you have to kind of push yourself and say look, let's go for something even if it's a bit out there and people tell you that you can't do it, but somebody has to do it so maybe it can be you.

Buster 9:44

Yeah! So why do you love being a presenter?

Jacqui Hurley 9:47

Definitely for sports like getting to go to so many matches and games and being on pitch side or courtside and talking to all the sports stars I love that job.

Buddy 9:56

Yeah Buster. That would be awesome. Like 'Hello everyone and welcome to today's match. I'm your presenter, Buddy!'


And you're joining us here pitchside at the Aviva live. Yeah, that would be great Buddy!

Jacqui Hurley:

Dream big guys you never, you never know!

Michelle Connolly:

So do you think they have a chance? Do you think from what you've heard there?

Jacqui Hurley:

Yeah, like you know if this was an audition I definitely be giving you the job. You built up the excitement? Yeah.


Hey first Buster you heard it here first, Jacqui's promised us to take over her job presenting on RTE!!


Yeah! The Buster and Buddy sports show!


Hey now, don't be doing me out of a job now lads, in fairness, I still need to get paid here you know!

Michelle Connolly:

Jacqui, you know, when you started presenting, though, there really weren't that many women working in sports. It was mainly men that presented the sports news on radio and TV.

Jacqui Hurley:

Yeah, it was actually. And it's funny because in the last five years in particular, things have really changed. I think for girls in general, when it comes to both in front of t he camera and girls actually playing sport as well, like the change has been really, really rapid. It's been one of the things that I've been really proud to be part of that I do think young girls now can actually look at the TV and say, Okay, I could do that, I could be a presenter or I could play for Ireland, or whatever it is. The dreams are there now for them to be fulfilled. Whereas it probably wasn't like that when I was coming in, there was only one or two women on screen. Whereas now, like there's loads of women on TV, and that's a brilliant now,

Michelle Connolly:

And I being a bit older than these two here remember that it was very strange when I was younger, if I heard a woman's voice on the radio, like I remember being quite shocked if I heard a female voice.

Jacqui Hurley:

Yeah. Whereas I think now you're more likely or you're as likely to turn on the radio and hear a woman as you are man. And that's definitely a good thing. Because Because if if there is more girls playing sport, then there should be more girls talking about sports. So it's pretty simple, you know?

Michelle Connolly:



But Jacqui what was it like during Coronavirus when so much sport wasn't allowed to happen? I mean, what did you actually do as a sports presenter,

Jacqui Hurley:

Very little at the start!! It was it was really weird. Like in 2020, I was only at one match in the whole year. And normally, I would probably be at about 40 matches. So yeah, it was really strange, you know, and then suddenly, like when it's taken away, it's like what you were saying earlier, Michelle, suddenly you remember and you're going, Oh, God, I'll never take it for granted again. So I can't wait to try to get out to games again this summer. Because it's something that I've really, really missed. And actually, as much as the sport, the thing that you miss is the people you know, it's the people you meet, and it's having the crack on the sideline, popping along see the match, but also saying hi to people, they're the things that you really, really miss as well.

Michelle Connolly:

Absolutely, absolutely. And Jackie, recently, you wrote a book for kids called 'Girls Play Too'. It's a book of inspiring stories about Irish sports women. So what made you decide to write this right now?

Unknown Speaker:

Basically, I did it because I never had a book like that. And I would have loved a book about my childhood heroes when I was a kid. And I suppose I kind of felt like, why am I waiting for somebody else to write a book when I could just do it. And I wanted to give young girls and boys something that we never had, you know, you and I, Michelle, when we were growing up, had lots of female sports role models, but we just didn't really hear about them. And I just thought, why not give kids an opportunity to read about Kira McGee, and Katie Taylor, and Stephanie Roach and all the other amazing stories that are out there. And I wanted to do something that would go to primary school kids, because I really believe that's the age group where you can make the biggest difference.

Michelle Connolly:

And like you say, it was definitely different when when I was young, I mean, I played camogie for years and years, and we just didn't get the support the girls get nowadays, and they take it as normal, and rightly so. And but even though it's taken time for women's sports to get equal coverage, you know, it's only really in recent times that women's sports have been aired on TV or being talked about on sports programmes.

Jacqui Hurley:

Yeah. And look, that's the biggest difference, I think, because once you start going into the age group of primary school, and you show them that this is what equality looks like, they actually won't accept it anymore. Because the older they get, they're just going to start calling that out and saying, well hang on a second, now, why aren't we getting that pitch? Or why aren't we getting the same amount of TV coverage. And that's why it's so important to talk to this age group, because they need to understand that that's actually not acceptable. Whereas like, I was of an era where we just did what we were told. And if you arrived at a match and there wasn't gear for your or there wasn't warm showers, or whatever it was, we just got on with it. Whereas I do think now there's a generation that will just say, Well, actually, no, that's completely unacceptable.

Michelle Connolly:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, I gave your book 'Girls Play Too', I gave it to the guys to have a read. And I asked each of them to pick a favourite story. So Buddy, what story did you pick out?


Well, because you guys know I love rugby so much. I read up on Fiona Caughlin story, and I just couldn't believe it. She was the captain of the Irish Women's rugby team to win their first ever Grand Slam. And they beat New Zealand to do it, who are considered like the best rugby team in the world. The most amazing part Michelle was she didn't start playing rugby until she was in her 20s. That's incredible. Wow!

Jacqui Hurley:

She's amazing. She really is. And you know what the best thing about that, as you say is that she didn't come to it until later in life. It's never too late for kids. And that's the thing that we always try to say to people about playing lots of different sports. You never know what you're going to be brilliant at. Imagine Fiona Caughlan at 15 years of age, if she had been playing rugby earlier in her life. You know, it's incredible to think that she still managed to find something, even at that stage of her life and be so successful about it. She is an absolute Rockstar.


Yeah. Oh, Jacqui, I love the book. But the story that I like the best was Rachael Blackmore, the champion jockey, because only recently she became the first woman to win the Grand National, which is like one of the biggest horse races in the world.

Jacqui Hurley:

She is amazing isn't she! Oh my gosh, what a year! And you know what, after I wrote her story, I sent her a message to say, I think we're gonna have to rewrite your story now. She has literally ripped up the pages and thrown them out the window. She is just an amazing woman. And the best thing about it is that she competes alongside the boys in the exact same races, and she doesn't even care about it. And she is such a great role model for all kids, boys and girls. She really really is.


Jacqui, l thought all the women in the book were amazing. I think everyone knows the Irish boxer Katie Taylor. But I don't think I completely understood just how incredible and successful she has been. I can't believe like when she was a kid that the girls weren't allowed to fight in a boxing championships.

Jacqui Hurley:

Isn't it crazy to think that, that she had to pretend to be a boy?

Michelle Connolly:

Like, what age does she know to think that the age she is and what how long ago that was that she had to was it was it. She had to dress like a boy or pretend to be a boy to actually enter the competition. I mean, that's incredible. Well, I

Unknown Speaker:

Well I just think that's crazy, though, because like, but if Katie Taylor didn't do that, we would never have seen boxing in the Olympic Games, like Katie Taylor is the reason that there is female boxing in the Olympics. Because once they saw her fight, they realised we have to put this on the world stage. And I think of all the Irish sports stars that we have ever created, I think she might be just the greatest of them all, because what she has achieved is just phenomenal. Like on a global stage, she is world recognised as the best and like it's very rare for an Irish person to be that successful. And we should be very grateful that she was born in this amazing country and that she represents us so well on the on the world stage.


Yeah, me too. Lexi. Ah I love Katie Taylor. She's brilliant!

Michelle Connolly:

Yeah, I know. It's amazing. I mean, when you see it written on the page in front of you, suddenly it you suddenly realise how incredible she is. But actually how incredible all the women in the book are. And it's a really good read. And it's told in a very nice story like way actually all the stories there's that once upon a time there was, which is very interesting, very entertaining.

Jacqui Hurley:

Yeah well that's one of the things is I wanted it to feel like a fairy tale, because a lot of books a lot of particularly a lot of the ones for the girls are Once upon a time, there was a princess in a castle and then a man came and rescued her. And I just thought, why not flip the fairy tale and make it so that some fairy tales start in your back garden, you know, you might dream of being an Olympic boxing champion, and you get to do that. So there can be different fairy tales as well, you don't have to be a princess in a fairy tale. And that's definitely what I was trying to do with this book.

Michelle Connolly:

Brilliant. And so Jackie, the name of this show is Mind Your Head. And this is where we chat with people about what they do to mind their heads, you know, minding their mental health. And obviously, playing sports is how you stay happy and healthy.

Jacqui Hurley:

Yeah, and actually, I think that's really important for people just to, to kind of find something that makes you feel comfortable in your head, you know, whatever that is, if it's going out for a walk, even if it's 10 minutes, it's just to clear your head. So for me, sport is always the thing that gave me that peace of just getting that headspace to just even if it's going for a jog, just to clear your mind. And it's just really, really important. And I think like whatever it is, whether that's dance, yoga, gymnastics, horse riding, whatever it is to just find that place that makes you happy, and keep going there is really, really important. So sports, I'm very lucky to have had that in my life.


Ah, brilliant. And Jacqui, just before you go, I have a question that I love to ask you to all of our guests. Would you mind if I asked you of course. Shall we call this question, Big Me to Little Me. So basically, if you could go back in time, what advice would big Jacqui, give to little Jacqui.

Jacqui Hurley:

Do you know what I think when I look back now like I'm very glad that I just chased my dreams and it worked out. And I think it's actually just telling yourself, stay with it. Even when it gets difficult, and there's going to be lots of nose. And it's going to be really challenging. But actually, if you really, really want to do it, just stay with it. If there's something that you really, really want to do, just put the head down and go for it. Because what's the worst that can happen? . And so I always kind of think, chase it and see what happens.


That is amazing advice.


Thanks for writing the book, Jackie, I didn't realise there were so many successful Irish sports women that are like, amazing. Its really made me think that if I work hard and train hard that maybe I can go professional with my football or basketball too.

Jacqui Hurley:

Well that's exactly it. And that's what we want to do. We want to inspire kids to know that if you want to do it, you can because somebody has to, so it might as well be you.

Michelle Connolly:

I love that. Exactly. And the book really is brilliant. And you know, it's super to hear the stories of so many Irish sportswomen that most of us maybe haven't heard about before. So it's it's a brilliant book.

Jacqui Hurley:

Thanks a million. I really appreciate that, guys. It's great to know that you guys are reading it and that you're getting something out of it as well.


was amazing. And Jackie, thank you so much for coming out to talk to us today. You have been amazing.


Yeah. Thanks, Jackie. For chatting to us. See on the TV soon.

Jacqui Hurley:

Thanks. I'll make sure I wave back. Thanks a million guys. Thank you, Jackie.


Hey, guys, it's that time again. It's time to Tickle Your Funny Bone!

Unknown Speaker:

Hi, my name is Jasmine and I'm eight years old and this is my joke. What's a cat's favourite colour? Puur -ple!


My name is Rian I am eight years old and this is my joke. Why did the monkey paint his toes red? So he can hide in cherry trees. Okay, now, what is the loudest sound in the jungle? Giraffes eating cherries!!

Michelle Connolly:

So guys, that's almost it from us today Thanks to all the kids who sent in their audio clips. And if you have a story, a question or a favourite joke, we'd love to hear from you. All you have to do is recorded on the inbuilt voice recorder on an adult's phone and What's App to us.


You'll find all the details on our website as well as loads of info on everything we talked about in our shows.


Oh and follow us on social media for loads of fun stuff and competitions. That's where me and Buddy take over Yeah! just look for the kids are all right podcast.


Oh, and don't forget that all as in;


ALL we hope you enjoyed this week's show. And if so, tell all your friends about it.

Michelle Connolly:

And remember guys try to be healthy,


Be well and be happy. See you

Michelle Connolly:

See you next time on The Kids Are All Right podcast.


Okay kids, it's time Are you ready? It's time to Air Guitar in the Car... wherever you are!