Following Mayo’s victory over Galway last weekend, the covers of sports sections of national papers were all adorned with the same enthralling, heat of the moment, image of Aidan O’Shea. The Mayo man had his head 12 feet in the Tuam sky as he leapt skyward to get a hold of the ball, robustly using Galway’s Séan Andy Ó Ceallaigh as a jumping-off point to catch the ball.
As this was happening, Mayo hurling PRO Ciara Buckley was on the sideline, almost about to pack her Nikon D3500 camera away when the ball came up towards her end of the field. As it turned, she was in exactly the right place at the right time to capture a photo that will surely live on in Mayo sporting memory for years to come.
“I was on the sideline just underneath the scoreboard and was just about to put the camera away when I saw play coming my way,” she told the Irish Examiner.
“Ten minutes earlier my memory card was full and I went searching for another one. Thankfully I had a spare or else we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I was following the flight of the ball and Aidan jumped out of nowhere. I just pressed down on the button and it just took numerous shots.”
“Then I saw him go down and my first instinct was that he was injured. Anyway, I sent on the images to Paul Cunnane (Mayo PRO) and he uploaded them onto the Mayo GAA social account. Everything took off from there.”
The image has since captured the imagination of the sporting community in Ireland and further afield, with thousands of likes and retweets of the photograph.
“Rob Kearney gave it a like – I had to get a screenshot of that,” Ciara laughed. “I never thought that one of my photographs would ever get this kind of a reaction.”
Buckley is a Mayo GAA fanatic though football is not her primary passion.
“I’m actually the Mayo hurling PRO. My brother played hurling for Ballyhaunis about 10 years ago and I started taking pictures of his games and going to sports like rugby and rallying.
“Around 2016 the Mayo hurling manager JP Coen asked me if I would follow them for the season and take pictures and it took off from there. I became PRO the following year and since then I go to as many games as I can.”
Her incredible work in promoting hurling didn’t go unnoticed and she was asked to assist with coverage of the Mayo footballers on matchday.
“I have a blue-tooth on camera so when Mayo PRO Paul Cunnane is live-tweeting from matches I can just send him the photographs and he can add those to his uploads instantly. I can’t make every game as the hurling remains the priority.”