Life In Lockdown With Grace Clifford

It’s March 8th and on a wet and windy afternoon in Dr. Hyde Park, the Kildare Ladies Footballers have just eeked out a hard fought win (0-13 to 0-08) over their hosts Roscommon in Division 3 of the league.

The win sees Kildare qualify for the final and extends their 100% record in 2020, with five wins from five under their belt. Things are really beginning to take off for this team, following some barren years since the county won the 2016 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship.

The last thing they need is an obstacle outside of their control been thrown into the mix. The team’s recent run of good form is the culmination of two years hard work under the guidance of Galway man Daniel Moynihan and his management team.

Now in his 3rd year at the helm, Moynihan and his team have unearthed some new talent, who have all added greatly to his panel and played their part alongside experienced campaigners in the shape of Siobhán O’Sullivan, Erica Burke, Róisín Byrne and Mary Hulgraine. To Moynihan’s delight the last three are back in the fold having missed the last few seasons for various reasons. And remember the trio also have All-Ireland medals safely tucked away in their back pockets, this are no ordinary threesome.

Back in Roscommon, the team congratulate each other on their most recent success, high fives all round, (little did they know that in a few weeks they wouldn’t even be able to meet never mind high fives) they know they’ve been in a battle and at the back of their minds they also know this result is a break through. This was game they would have thrown away in previous seasons. But this side have an added steel about them, with leaders around the field, none more so than team Captain Grace Clifford.

Clifford has just put in another monumental performance, driving her team on from midfield, an inspiration to some of the newcomers and a leader to all, just has she has been throughout her Lilywhite career, especially since been named Captain in 2018.

The Eadestown player was also part of that successful All-Ireland winning side of 2016 and now in 2020 she is determined more than ever to get this current side moving in the right direction. She more than anyone will be thrilled at qualifying for the league final and will be already planning for their most likely finalist opponents Down in a few weeks time.

With only the winners gaining promotion to Division 2, Clifford knows it’s time to park the Roscommon success and is already looking forward to putting in a few hard weeks training back at Hawkfield.

They still have two league fixtures to fulfill and given her winning mentality, she will want to win them too and make it a perfect seven from seven. Nothing is going to stop her and her team mates in their quest for glory she thinks as she boards the bus from Roscommon back to Kildare. Their time is now.

Fast forward a few weeks and with the country since in lockdown due to the CoronaVirus, we caught up with Clifford (over the phone of course!) for a chat to see how she was coping with isolation and restriction from seeing her team mates, extended family, friends and to see how she found working and training at home alone.

What was life like for an Inter County Captain during Cov19. Thankfully for the Recruitment Consultant, who resides in Eadestown, her job means she can work from home and as we called it came as no surprise that on her break she was out for some fresh air and exercise, determined to keep up her level of fitness ahead of any possible return to Gaa action in the coming months.

Clifford is not one to rest on her laurels. A lot had happened since that afternoon in Roscommon, with the joy of reaching the league final, turning to disappointment a week later when the powers that be in the LGFA pulled the plug on the remainder of the National League for 2020 (it won’t be finished at any stage) due to the current CoronaVirus pandemic sweeping across the country.

One feels maybe they made the decision rather hastily and could have looked at potentially finishing it in the autumn. All training had been cancelled and as mentioned above the country had more or less gone into full lockdown, with people asked to stay within a 2km radius of their home.

Clifford for one had to adapt in more than one area of her everyday life, but as usual she was upbeat and positive about the challenge ahead. “Yeah look it’s a crazy time for everyone, Covid19 was something that none of us were prepared for. It’s something that hasn’t happened in our lifetime and please God it will never happen again.

I think what it has shown us is that your health is your wealth. Regardless of our status in life, you are not immune to something like this”

Clifford, who won a Kildare SFC with her local Club Eadestown in 2018, counts herself lucky that she resides in the area, out in the countryside, where she can get out and about without worrying too much about bumping into people;

“I suppose for me I am lucky I live in the countryside in Eadestown so I am able to get out for a good run and walk and thankfully I haven’t really had to go into the towns too much in the last couple of weeks, aside from maybe going to the shops for my mam, so I have found the social distancing part easy enough to adapt too”

As usual Clifford is finding the positives from a bad situation and sees this as a time for people to regroup and take stock of their lives, something she certainly intends to do.;

“I’m a very positive person and am trying to find the positives out of the current situation. Personally for me the last number of years have been go, go, go what with college, training, work, all these things. And like so many I’ve never really had the opportunity to sit back and appreciate the simple things in life. So it’s from that maybe all of us could try and take the positives. To maybe take a step from our busy lives and take stock.

I’ve found that from been at home and been around the family all the time has been nice, though maybe if you ask me that again in a few weeks I could have a different answer!!!

Working from home

Having attended Carlow IT, Clifford now works as a recruitment consultant, where thankfully she can continue her work from home.

“I work as a recruitment consultant so as you can imagine job interviews are probably the last thing that people are thinking of or worrying about at the moment but to be honest we have been pretty lucky and have been relatively busy over the past couple of weeks.

I’m going into week three now working from home and despite initially been unsure how I’d get on with things, I’m actually enjoying it so far. Obviously I miss the company of my work colleagues in the office but I’m content with the change for now.

I’ve actually had a lot of job interviews happening and companies still working, looking to move on ahead. These are companies that are maybe been prepared since the last recession. I think people are utilising the technology we have now days, with the likes of Skype and Zoom to hold interviews, whislt also respecting the governments restrictions.

Overall working from home has been different but it’s nice to have a change every now and then. I’m grateful that I could continue in my role from home as I know so many people have been temporarily laid off. I’m also grateful to my company for doing their bit and for providing that option for me”

Daily Routine

To make it and maintain a career both on and off the field you have to have a good worth ethic, discipline and routine and though we know from the outside looking in that the County Captain possesses all these traits in abundance, she explains to us the importance of sticking to her routine during this difficult time;

“I’m a real stickler for routine. For me I’ve been doing my work and then lunchtime is when I do my workout, so I either do my run or my home gym. That’s really been unbelievable, I find that brilliant.

Then in the evenings after work I always make sure to get out for a good walk as well, while also getting out to the gable end of the house with a football and work on some skills to keep the eye in.

Again keeping this routine has helped me to stay positive and then maybe at the end of the day I would pop into the team’s group chat and send pictures of what work I had done that day. Then seeing what the others girls post too, it helps keep that communication going.

I’m obviously keeping to a very similar routine to my eating habits too, which can be a bit of a challenge at times when you are at home all day”

Keeping in contact, training in groups at a distance and management with Kildare

Going from spending so much time together and working towards a common goal since last November of winning the league has been pulled right from under the noses of Clifford and her Kildare team mates but as she she says they are in plenty of contact, working hard separately and now very much looking forward to Championship when football returns;

“We’ve a really good squad there with Kildare this year, doubled up with a great management and S&C coach, who we’ve been working with in our groups over the last few weeks, putting in amazing work, trying to stay relatively fit. We’ve been given different challenges, runs and home workouts to do.

Everything has been put in place to adapt and respect the guidelines by the HSE and the Government, while still getting out and for our physical fitness. But maybe more importantly, as our management have stressed, to get out for the goodness of our mental health also. In fairness all the girls have been great at keeping spirits up.

Again we were disappointed that the league was cancelled but at the end of the day some things are bigger than football so we’ve taken it on the chin and are looking to moving forward together as a group. As a group we are now looking forward to having a good crack at the championship when football finally does return.

Everyone is linking in and been there for one another. Personally the girls have helped me stay motivated and as a group we are taking one day at a time, knowing every day is one day closer to returning. I think at this stage all the girls will even be relishing to returning to do some pre season runs”

League Cancellation

As supporters of the LGFA, we were obviously disappointed with the cancellation of the league for 2020, especially for teams like Meath and Kildare, who were in excellent positions in their respective divisions but as Clifford explains (despite her own disappointment) that sometimes football has to take a back seat in the greater scheme of things; ”

The news of the league’s cancellation was obviously devestating for us at Kildare. From a footballing perspective we’ve been building towards this with Daniel and his team for a couple of years now and not only since last November. It’s been a work in progress that was beginning to bear fruit.

Our goal was promotion and everything had been going so well. Who would have thought that something like this would be the reason we wouldn’t be getting to play. 2020 has been a bit crazy, first all the storms and now this.

People might say that it’s very trivial to be worrying about sport at a time like this and I agree 100% but this is such a big part of our lives. It was a bit dis heartening to see that the league had been cancelled so quickly, particularly as the Gaa and Camogie Associations came out and said they would reassess the situation in April, when we all might have more of an idea where we are at with this.

But I guess more importantly we are respecting the guidelines and pulling together as a country to try and flatten the curve and that’s the main aim right now.

Again in the grand scheme of things football isn’t that important but naturally enough when you are training together for so long and it is such a big part of your life, you just want to be successful.

The fact that we now know that the league won’t go ahead, any glimmer of hope or motivation for that success is gone given the finality of the decision, though some people may disagree and argue that you are better off knowing your faith from the outset.

As I said above, we are a positive group and we have already turned our attentions to the championship, whenever that may be”

Post Covid19

Been a Manchester United, Clifford is ever the optimist and knows that the LGFA championship will go ahead in 2020, without knowing what structure it will undertake yet. You can be guaranteed she will with have both herself and her team well prepared;

“I’m been sure that there will be some sort of championship that will go ahead and we’ll continue to train for that in a positive way. We are all doing our bit for our communities and we all want to get back to normality as soon as possible.

Obviously our main focus as a group was promotion in the league, we weren’t even thinking about championship but that has changed now and all focus is on the championship to pick up where we left off and continue that winning streak right throughout the year and see where it takes us.

We’ve a really good group there and I feel we deserve to win some silverware after the work we put in.

On the club front with Eadestown, look it’s always competitive winning at any grade in Kildare, especially at Senior, any side can do well on any given year. I’d be hopeful that we’ll have a successful year. The girls are working extremely hard under new management and like everyone the girls just want to play football.

Honestly I just cannot wait to get back on the field and training with everyone, it’s the commerardery and banter that you miss most. When we return we will all definitely appreciate it more”

One thing is for sure if anyone can help this Kildare side through these difficult few months and help them repeat days like that afternoon in Roscommon at the start of March, then their inspirational Captain Grace Clifford can.

She’s proven that it be at home or at Hawkfield, behind the phone or in the centre of the huddle, things stay the same. Routine, hard work, leadership and most of all positivity makes her the leader she is. And Kidlare is all the better for her.

Photos with thanks to Karl Gormley

Irish Wonderkid Moloney Is United Hero In Champions League Final

The day I played for Manchester United. By Darragh Moloney, aged 7

Darragh Moloney in the black United away Jersey, with his brother at the Champions League home coming celebrations at Old Trafford.

It was a Saturday night at the Olympic Stadium in London and 80,000 fans were watching me. I was so excited to be playing in the Champions League Final. It was going to be a tough match.

It was Manchester United v Barcelona. I was a forward for Manchester United playing with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. The referee blew his whistle. I was the Captain so I took the kick off.

It was an intense match. Bruno Fernandes got the ball in the middle. He passed a great ball to me. I shot the ball and it was a great shot but Ter Stegen, the Barcelona keeper, made a brilliant save. It was a corner. The ball flew in like a rocket but one of the Barcelona defenders headed the ball away. Barcelona’a star player Messi was on the break. He was sprinting up the field. He shot and sadly he scored. Barcelona scored again and again. It was half time and we were down by three goals.

We had our team talk.

The match started and Barcelona took the kick off. One of the Barcelona defenders got the ball but I tackled him and scored. And then I scored again five minutes later and again one minute after that. It was one of the best comebacks I ever saw. The referee blew his whistle as it was now full time. But the match was not over yet, it was extra time.

Barcelona took an early lead but I was not giving up. Marcus Rashford scored for Manchester United and it was now 4-4. Messi then scored to bring it to 5- for Barcelona. In the last minute of extra time I was sprinting up to the Barcelona goal. The fans jumped out of their seats. I took a shot and it was a great goal. The referee blew his whistle and it went to penalties.

Barcelona took the first penalty and they scored. Bruno Fernandes took the next penalty for Manchester United and he also scored. Barcelona took the next penalty and they scored. Now it was my turn, I stepped up to the penalty spot and I shot the ball into the top corner of the net. Barcelona scored their next three penalties but so did Manchester United. It was sudden death….

Messi was up first for Barcelona. He struck the ball it it hit the post. Now it was my turn again. If I scored this I would win the match for my team and get to lift the cup. There was silence in the stadium and my heart was beating really fast but I knew that I could score. I stepped up to the ball and I sent the keeper the wrong way and the ball went into the bottom corner of the net.

We had won the Champions League Final.

Just when I was about to lift the cup I felt something on my shoulder and it was shaking me. It was My DAD!!!! He was telling me to get up and get dressed for school.

When I went to school I told all of my friends about my adventures playing for Manchester United.

The End.

MY Story – By Lester Cassidy

My Story – By Lester Cassidy

It was the 23rd of July 1998, just four days after my 19th birthday and for me it was just another Thursday at work as an apprentice carpenter, or so I thought… Little did I know, in the blink of an eye, my life would be turned upside down and changed forever.

Shortly after lunchtime as I was working on the roof of a two story house on a building site in Leixlip, the scaffolding gave way from underneath me and I fell about 24ft. I’ll never forget trying to grab scaffolding bars mid fall trying to save myself or break my fall but unlike you see in the movies it’s near impossible. I hit the ground with tremendous force. Unfortunately I landed on a scaffolding plank on its side, I’ll never forget the sound of hearing my back snap and the pain that followed. Immediately I knew I was in Serious trouble. My legs went all pins and needles and I couldn’t move them. It seemed like an age waiting on the emergency services to arrive, but it probably only took about half an hour. I was rushed straight to the Mater hospital where I underwent a five hour operation.

The next day, surrounded by very upset and concerned family members and my girlfriend Rachel, a doctor explained to me that I had sustained a double fractured broken back but More importantly inoperable damage had been done to my spinal cord. I was paralysed from the waist down and I might never walk again!!!

During the next two weeks in the Mater spinal ward, I was bed bound, you have all day for things to play on your mind, maybe I was in denial but paralysis long term never really crossed my mind. I have always been a very positive guy, I just presumed I was going to make a full recovery and be back on my feet in no time. A specialist from The National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) came to assess me and it was decided that I would be going there in a couple weeks to learn to be independant again.

I must admit before being a patient in the NRH I never even knew it existed, and wow what an amazing place it was…..I was surrounded by stroke patients, amputees, paraplegics, quadriplegics, tetraplegics(neck down) and brain injuries….there’s no feeling sorry for yourself there, there is always someone much worse off than you. All the staff from nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists do the most amazing job with one goal in mind, to get the patient back to being as independant and healthy as possible, they are inspirational.

I was still very sick when I arrived at the NRH, I just couldn’t stop vomiting, it was like my body just couldn’t adapt to being paralysed. Kildare won the Leinster final that week and Davey Dalton(Kilcock legend) brought a few of the players in to see me……that visit gave me great encouragement and belief, I stopped getting sick that day and was finally on the road to recovery.

Being put into a wheelchair for the first time, that was very traumatic !!! It was a strange and scary feeling, I think myself Rachel and the whole family cried for most of that day. A family therapist came to see us and I have to say it was one of the toughest days of my life.
I never looked back from that day on, I am a very positive person, I was ready to move forward, that was my only “bad” day.

After I had my back brace removed I worked very hard, learning how to dress myself again, to go to the toilet….building up strength in the physio department each day so that I could push about in the wheelchair…..i was determined to make the best of my situation. I even learned how to drive!!! Spinal Injuries Ireland (SII) set up a driving programme for patients, i signed up and on my first lesson i was out on the busy dublin roads, i nearly had a heart attack.
I had great fun with all the nurses, doctors and staff each day, they filled my days with fun divilment and laughter, you wouldn’t feel like you were in a hospital at all.
I got to meet some of the most amazing people, patients who were going through the exact same journey as me. The bonds that you make in hospital are very special, you are there for each other, you become almost family. I guess it’s a bit like War Vets, you have mutual respect for one another and maybe only people who have lived through such a life altering experience can truly understand the other. I’m glad to say I’m still in contact with a few of these very dear friends.

Apart from the amazing support I received during this time from Rachel and my family, I also was blessed with a super network of friends and a very warm community spirit of my home town Kilcock. Nobody once treated me any differently when i returned home in a wheelchair, this made my transition so much easier to just move on with my life and not dwell on the past.

Shortly after my release from NRH myself and Rachel went travelling for a few months,we saw the world, places like Australia and New Zealand, it was a truly amazing experience. Then we settled down, built a house and got married. We have been truly blessed with three amazing kids. I am a stay at home dad and I have to say I love it. It’s the most rewarding job in the world. My kids are everything to me.

“Alright I never got power or feeling back in my legs, but I did recover to have a powerful life”.

A part of me always felt like I owed something to those amazing people who looked after me when I was down and at my lowest. I recently found out that the NRH are building a new hospital and I think now is the time for me to stand up🙈 and help out, if ever funds were needed it’s now!!!!

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do things in halves, if I’m gonna do a fundraiser I’m gonna take on something big…..what bigger than a mountain……

LET’S CLIMB CROAGH PATRICK !!!!!
♿⛰️💪💪💪

So once again, almost twenty two years later I’m asking for your help and support. I’m asking all of you guys to PLEASE DONATE via the link below 🙏

https://www.idonate.ie/LesterCassidy

ALSO PLEASE COME JOIN ME ON 18TH JULY I can’t do this without your help!!!

I’m going have a big party after the climb, in the Westport Coast Hotel, music, food and craic and I hope you can all make it.

The NRH amd SII made a massive impact on my life and nothing in life is promised, you never know if you or someone you love will need the help of this hospital someday. They are worth our support. So please, please donate, even something small.

Thanks for taking some time out and reading my story…… Please share it with all your family and friends 👍

“Live life to the fullest and focus on the positive”…. Be happy….Lester Cassidy.

https://www.idonate.ie/LesterCassidy

Please Donate 🙏

Maye continues along the right path at Dundalk

Having recently enjoyed three successes on the bounce with Geological, Maynooth Jockey Vanessa Maye once again teamed up with trainer Damian English to win with another of Dundalk Races favourite sons, Tribal Path, in the Crown Plaza Dundalk Race and Stay Handicap Division II, at the County Louth track this evening.

Maye, now claiming 7lb, partnered the nine year old to his eighth career victory on his 79th start, picking up her fourth career win as a jockey in the process.

Along with picking up the win, Maye would have been equally excited by the fact that her older sister Jessica rode in her first race under rules, when she partnered up with the John Geoghegan trained ‘Lady Boomerang’

Richards leads Kilcock to medal success at Kildare Cross Country

The St Cocas’ team who picked up silver medals in the Kildare Cross Country Championships Senior Women’s Race.

St Cocas AC had a fine morning on The Curragh at the Kildare Cross Country Championships last Sunday, December 1st.

In what was the last Kildare fixture of the year, the Kilcock based club fielded two u10 teams, three u12 and two u14 teams in the new mixed relays.

The u14s team consisting of Daniel Geraghty, Aoishe Gormley, Sadhbh Buckley and Brian Caffrey won their race with some fine running from all.

After the underage relays it was the turn of the seniors. First up in the senior women’s 4k, Áine Burke finished 3rd individually, leading her team to 2nd place overall, with Kirsten Monaghan, Lynda Gormley, Niamh Cleary and Olivia Bermingham and Burke picking up silver.

In the men’s race 17 year old Eoin Richards became one of the youngest athletes to win the race when he had an impressive win in the senior 10k race.

Eoin’s victory, along with some fine performances from the rest of the team, meant that St Cocas picked up bronze in the senior men’s team event. Backing Eoin up were Shane McNerney, Niall O’Reilly, Leeroy Graham, Patrick Conlon and Henry Cahill.

Thanks to Carmel Kelly for the info and Dermot Kelly for the photos.

Kilcock duo selected for Dublin Basketball team!

Andrea Goggins (left) and Saoirse Reidy in their Kilcock Basketball gear

Kilcock Basketball players Saoirse Reidy and Andrea Goggins have been selected to play for the Dublin u12’s girls Basketball team.

The pair, who are part of Julie Reidy’s Kilcock u12 side, were picked after their fine performances in two tough trials, where 120 girls from the Dublin League battled it out.

Kilcock play in the Dublin Leagues, hence why the girls are eligible to play for the Metropolitan.

Saoirse lives in Kilcock and also plays for Kilcock LGFA, while Andrea resides in Kinnegad.

Summerhill Sensation Set To Face Off With Ryan Tubridy

Eleven year old boxer Ella Thompson from Summerhill, County Meath will appear on this year’s Late Late Toy Show this coming Friday, November 29th.

Ella, who attends St Patrick’s National School in Trim, will get to live the dream of every child up and down the country by appearing on the most viewed TV show annually in Ireland. While there, she will show off her amazing boxing skills, working the pads with Ryan Tubridy, before taking part in an interview and reviewing some sports toys. Someone better warn Tubridy to bulk up before Friday or face been knocked down by the Summerhill Star!!

Ella, who lives and breathes sport, has also played Gaelic Football, ran for St Cocas Kilcock and has done kickboxing since the age of five. She took up boxing three years ago with South Meath Boxing Club, where she was coached by her dad Cliff.

This year Ella has joined Dunboyne Boxing Club and started boxing competitively, as you become eligible to do so when you turn eleven. She is also part of Steven O’Rourkes professional gym in Inchicore, where her dad is also a trainer.

This year alone Ella was Leinster finalist, a Monkstown finalist, Esker International Female Champion and Wexford Cup Finalist, to mention a few. She is making serious strides and certainty has a bright future ahead.

RTÉ have definitely taken interest as she will also appear on Nationwide in January.

Dad Cliff, who is understandably very proud of his daughter, was full of praise for her when I caught up with him earlier this week; “Ella’s a phenomenal boxing talent. She attends Steven O’Rourkes’ gym in Inchicore. Steven and Ella have fantastic understanding and he thinks the world of her and her talent. She has also spared with Joe Ward and Pete Taylor and both were seriously impressed with her. Ella’s ultimate goal is to be an Olympian. We are very proud of her, for a girl of her years she has such a drive and ambition”

Ryan Tubridy, you’ve been warned!!!