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Opening Night Premier Lakelands asks: Who are you when you can’t be a star on the pitch?

Irish Film Festival 3 mins read
Danielle Galligan as Grace and u00c9anna Hardwicke as Cian in Lakelands. Photograph: Robert Higgins/Patrick McGivney

Lakelands asks: Who are you when you can’t be a star on the pitch? 

It’s a theme that struck a chord with Sydney Swans star Tadhg Kennelly.

Lakelands Opening Night Premiere |  9th Irish Film Festival Australia | 

5th October 2023 | Dendy Cinema, Newtown, Sydney


On the surface, Lakelands is a film about Gaelic football; at its core it is an exploration of what it means to be a man in a macho society that is evolving from ‘old’ Ireland into a modern society.


Éanna Hardwicke (Normal People) plays Cian, a small town sports star whose life revolves around training, drinking, friends and farming. When a head injury takes football off the table, Cian sinks into depression, wondering who he is if he can’t be a star on the pitch. 


Reconnecting with old flame Grace (Danielle Galligan - The Great, Kin, Shadow and Bone), who has returned from London to care for her dying father, gives him space to be vulnerable and together they navigate the meaning of ‘home’ in a place where you feel like a stranger.


Lakelands has a small town heart, but Cian’s journey - the discovery that we are not defined by what we do, but who we allow ourself to be - is universal.


Former Sydney Swans footballer Tadhg Kennelly grew up in country Ireland, immersed in Gaelic football culture. He is now part of the generation of Irish men changing what it means to be a man and showcasing positive masculinity, both in his homeland and here in Australia.


“You could be bulletproof in the football club,but you always had your armour on and couldn’t show any vulnerability,” said Kennelly. 


Losing his Swans coaching role during COVID brought on a period of depression. The support he got from friend David Eccles, prompted the pair to form men's well-being group, When No One's Watching WNOW.


“People are familiar with Tadhg the sports star, (so) when men see him being vulnerable, it gives them permission to be open,” said David Eccles. “Blokes could spend 5 hours together in the pub and never talk about what is really going on in our lives. When we gather at the end of the session and someone shares their story, it is like watching a weight being lifted from their shoulders,” said David.


Lakelands is the feature debut for writers and directors Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney, picking up the Best Film Award at both the 2022 Galway Film Fleadh and Kerry International Film Festival.


Festival Director, Enda Murray says: “I’m proud to present our Opening Night drama Lakelands as a fresh, coming-of-age film from modern small town Ireland that delicately deals with a past steeped in tradition and its impact on mental health. Stunningly shot and movingly told, it features a stellar rising star lead cast in Éanna and Danielle."


Lakelands Trailer

Lakelands Media Assets

WNOW Media



When: Cinemas: Oct 5th - Nov 5th

Online: Oct 5th - 15th


Tour Dates:

5- 8 OCT: SYDNEY Dendy Cinema, Newtown

13-15 OCT: BRISBANE Dendy Cinema, Corparoo

20-22 OCT: CANBERRA Dendy Cinema, Canberra

27-29 OCT: PERTH Luna Cinema, Leederville

2-5 NOV: MELBOURNE Cinema Nova, Carlton


Tickets: Ticket sales:

   Cinema and Online Tickets on sale September 14th


The full Irish Film Festival Australia 2023 Program will be announced on September 14th

Media Enquiries

For interviews, imagery, screeners contact: Emma Hannigan: | 0404 999564 |





About us:

About the Irish Film Festival Australia

The Irish Film Festival Australia has been sharing the culture, traditions, history and character of Ireland and the Irish people with Australians since 2015.


The Festival is a not-for-profit cultural event supported by the Irish Embassy in Canberra, the Irish Consulate in Sydney, and the NSW Government through Screen NSW.


About the Festival Director 

Dr Enda Murray is an award-winning filmmaker and educator with 35 years’ experience in the industry having worked in Ireland, USA, England and Australia. Enda Murray's work has featured in numerous international film festivals and on BBC, RTE, ITV, ABC, NITV, Maori TV and SBS.

Contact details:

Media Enquiries

For interviews, imagery & screeners Emma Hannigan | 0404999564



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