Antoinette Leads the Way for O'Neills in Oz

In 2014 O’Neills International Sports opened their first office in Australia. Antoinette Brophy is heading up the O’Neills operation Down Under, having emigrated from Kildare with her family in 2014.

There is a growing market for GAA gear with a record number of clubs and of course vibrant rugby union, league and Aussie Rules. The success of the Irish Cricket at the World Cup has been a boost. As O’Neills spreads its wings we caught up with Antoinette to discuss her life in Oz.

Irish Cricket Reception

Antoinette is busy at the minute moving into her new offices in the Hazelwood Park area of Adelaide and the week after the Irish cricket team is playing their last World Cup Group Stages match in the Adelaide Oval. O’Neills are hosting a reception for the team in advance of the game as a welcome to Adelaide. Antoinette explains:

“Members of the local Irish community plus members of the wider Australian sporting community will be in attendance at the reception for the Cricket Ireland team. We are really looking forward to having the opportunity to welcome the team to Adelaide, to congratulate them on their on field success thus far, and to send them into their match at the Oval with our support ringing fresh in their ears!

“It is also an opportune time to officially launch the O’Neills brand to the Australian market.

“On a personal note, my 7 year old son has been picked to be one of the mascots to walk out the Irish team onto the hallowed turf of the Oval and we are honoured to be involved on such a magnificent sporting occasion and he is looking forward to the chance to meet some of the players in advance.”

Irish Sport in Australia

Q: We were keen to know what Antoinette’s reaction was on moving to Australia as O’Neills representative there.

"My initial reaction was excitement to be presented with such a huge challenge, while also being slightly daunted at the amount of logistical issues! Having worked for O’Neills for 16 years, I am very aware of the well earned respect with which our brand is held in Ireland and the UK and we knew the time was right to show Australia what we can offer it’s sporting communities." 

Q: How has it been so far?

"With young children there must be a lot to do? Do you have other relatives out there? It has been a hectic few months with settling into our new home, the children settling into their new school and my husband settling into his new job. We had some friends here already so were very lucky to have their support when we landed. South Australia is a very welcoming state and the business community here are extremely supportive of new ventures." 

Q: What are your immediate reactions to the local sporting life in Australia?

"The Australian culture is soaked in sport and it starts with the opportunities that are open for children to play a whole range of sports in school. Just like in Ireland, certain sports are more popular in some states than others. AFL is king in South Australia, but cricket, soccer, basketball, rugby union and netball are all very active here also. We are really looking forward to getting to see some of the Pro AFL games once the season starts in a few weeks, and are lucky to have had the chance to the see the Adelaide Strikers play cricket in the 20/20 at the Adelaide Oval and the Adelaide 36ers play basketball in the NBL at the Adelaide Arena." 

Q: What have you made of the local Irish community, tight knit, welcoming everyone, knowing one another?

"The Irish community here has been so welcoming, particularly the GAA community. My husband is involved as the Coach of the South Australia Gaelic Football Academy and we have met so many other Irish families through his involvement in that. The South Australian GAA community is quite unique as there are also so many Australians who play Gaelic football here. In fact the two representatives from South Australia who are playing for Australia in the GAA World Games in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Kate Fenton and Anita Doecke are both Australian and we are very proud of them!" 

Q: Does your role include travel round Australia. What are you looking forward to seeing in your downtime?

"Yes absolutely. I attended the Padraig Pearses 7s competition in Melbourne last month and will be visiting all of the other state capitals over the next 12 months. I have been a regular visitor to Australia over the past few years but one thing on my personal bucket list I have yet to do is to travel the Great Ocean Road. I am also travelling to Wellington in New Zealand in October for the GAA State Games so am really excited about that as I have never been to New Zealand before." 

O’Neills in Australia. 

Q: What do you see as the main selling points for O’Neills in Australia?

"The main selling points for O’Neills in Australia will be the same as our main selling points elsewhere, which are quality of our products, customer service, choice of styles available and speed of our delivery time. The Australian consumer has become accustomed to waiting 8-12 weeks for customised teamwear whereas we can offer a 3 week turnaround on our stock leisurewear ranges and a 6 week turnaround on our non-stock ranges." 

Q: Is there much brand awareness or are you starting from scratch?

"There is some brand awareness due to the fact that most of the Australian Gaelic football players have become familiar with the O’Neills brand through their love of Gaelic football. The International Rules competition between Australia and Ireland is also a reference point for us for the AFL market and the ICC Cricket World Cup is also bringing our brand to the attention of the wider cricket community also. But on a day-to-day basis, we will be starting from scratch." 

Q: Who are your own sporting heroes, who do you support?

"As a Kildare woman and Gaelic football fan, Johnny Doyle would be one of my greatest sporting heroes of all time. Katie Taylor and Sonia O’Sullivan are also inspirational in their achievements and dedication , not only as world class Irish female sporting athletes, but as athletes full stop! As a mum, I would also say that some of my sporting heroes are the other mums and dads who give their time to coach our future stars, be that in gaelic football, rugby or cricket."

Q: What will you miss about home?

"For me, what I will miss about home the most is family and friends. Skype, FaceTime and social media all help however and we have family visiting us soon also. I am very fortunate to be working for an Irish company that has a strong family ethos and the support from O’Neills in Ireland made this transition as easy as possible for me."

We wish Antoinette every success in Australia and we’ll be posting more updates from Down Under in the weeks and months ahead.