Fourteen year old Leixlip girl Abbie O’Leary has tonight completed her 1000km cycling fundraiser in aid of the Children’s Health Foundation at Crumlin Hospital.
Abbie, who began the mammoth cycle on April 1st, in line with her Easter break from school, amazingly reached her landmark only fifteen days into the month.
The sports mad Leixlip Gaa member, usually spends this time of the year immersed in Camogie, Football and competitive Swimming action but unfortunately like so many others, due to lockdown this hasn’t been possible in both 2020 and 2021.
Abbie’s competitive nature and love of exercise has seen her take up running and cycling in recent months, leading to her setting herself this challenge, while raising funds for CHI at Crumlin.
Speaking to Abbie earlier in the month, she explained her reasoning for choosing Crumlin; I’m a patient in CHI at Crumlin and am continually cared for by the fantastic Haematology team. I have also received amazing care from the medical team for various sporting injuries.
“I am so grateful for the care that I have received in CHI at Crumlin and wanted to give something back, and say thank you for all that they have done for me. I am combining my love of sport and gratitude for CHI at Crumlin in this 1000km fundraiser.”
Abbie was joined by her Mum Barbara, who is a healthcare worker and Abbie’s good friend Aoife for the cycles.
Last weekend we had the privilege here at Extra Time Sport of Lauren Magee taking over our Instagram page while on quarantine in a Brisbane hotel. We have put together a selection of YOUR QUESTIONS that Lauren thankfully went to great lengths to answer meticulously.
There is some excellent knowledge and advice below for younger players and indeed players further on in their careers.
Lauren is due to come out of quarantine along with fellow Dublin players Sinead Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy this Friday, January 22nd, when they will head to Melbourne to joint up with the Melbourne Demons AFLW team ahead of the new season.
*** Australia, AFLW & Quarantine ***
How are you keeping busy while in quarantine in Brisbane? It’s really important to get into a routine straight away here in the hotel room to help the days not feel so long. A typical day usually consists of: Bike session, yoga, skills, a walk, reading, painting, sudoku, listening to a podcast and learning Spanish (well trying too).
How long are you in Brisbane for? Only here for the remainder of quarantine (Friday 22nd) and then we fly straight to Melbourne.
Is this your first time in Australia and if so, what are you most looking forward too outside of the footy? I was in Melbourne for a short trip in March of 2020 and only got to see and do a few things so I am really looking forward to exploring more of Melbourne and seeing places like this (see photo)
Are you quarantining alone or can you mix with Sinead (Goldrick) and Niamh (Mcevoy) since you travelled with them? Unfortunately I am alone, we are are in separate rooms and don’t get to see each other.
What is quarantine like? Is it the hardest thing you have ever done? Not having any human contact or fresh air is definitely tough but keeping busy and having a routine definitely helps – I wouldn’t say it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done but it’s something I wouldn’t like to have to do any again any time soon.
What hotel are you quarantining in? The Mercure. I really would love a hoover – they won’t give me one because of cross contamination!
What was your least favourite thought of leaving home? Not being able to see my family, especially not being there for my Mam following the loss of my Stepdad recently. I know this is something he was so excited for me to do though, as were all of my family, so I still had to pursue it.
Why did take the three of you so long to get out to Australia, did Covid affect your plans? I t wasn’t a choice really, were supposed to fly out on December the 26th or 27th but due to Covid there flight cancellations etc. So we were basically on a waiting list to get a flight into Australia. Luckily we got one, given how bad things are at home.
How did you start playing AFL? I was asked to take part in the first combine held in December last December and it was through that I got in touch with Melbourne.
What are you most looking forward to about playing AFL? I think the excitement to learn a new sport, especially in a professional setup, is definitely something I’m looking forward to. But I also can’t wait to be able to be more physical in a game and not get sin-binned for it!!
What’s the most challenging part of changing/adapting to Aussie Rules? Learning the rules of the game and adapting the oval ball.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge of playing footy in Melbourne? Definitely the heat for me, being a ginger, it will be a struggle.
What are you most looking forward to seeing once out of quarantine? Simply, just everyone in Melbourne.
How long do you plan to stay in Australia? The plan at the moment is to stay until the end of April/early May.
Are there any AFLW teams in Ireland I could play for? I would love to try the sport? You should check out AFL Womens Ireland, they will lead you in the right direction.
*** Dublin Ladies ***
When did you start playing for Dublin? I’ve been playing on Dublin underage teams since u14s and have been playing ever since thankfully.
Do you think it matters if you don’t play underage for your county? No, definitely not. Nothing is impossible. Cassie is a great example. She never played underage for Dublin and is now on the Senior squad.
What kind of training and preparation did you do on your own to get to county level? When I was younger I was always out with my Dad and friends practicing on days I wasn’t training or playing. *Tip for anyone is to get out and practice, but particularly on skills that may not be your strongest.
What would you generally eat before a big game with Dublin? It’s all about the carb load. Especially the day before the game for me. The day before would generally be like pasta or curry etc for dinner and to make up more carbs, I’d sometimes have a bowl of cocopops afterwards. Every meal for me the day before, contains carbs. The day of the game, it always depends on what time the game is at. If it’s an early one I’ll just have some porridge and fruit. Most my food for the game would be based on what I have eaten the day before.
Is playing for Dublin hard? I would be a dream come true to play for them one day. I won’t lie, it’s a big commitment to be involved in a setup like Dublin and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to play but if it’s something you love to do, which I do, it’s worth it all.There can be days that are tough, especially when you have other things going on in your personal life and you’ve to get yourself to training but it’s these times that I am lucky to have such a great bunch around me. And after the session I will always feel better.
What has been your proudest moment in a Dublin jersey? Winning the All-Ireland in late 2020 – especially after the tough year everyone had and personally after losing my Stepdad, being able to play and end the year with a win was definitely one of the best feelings ever.
What was it like playing in the games in 2020 with no supporters present? It was a bit strange for the final in Croke Park because every year for the last few years the crowd was getting bigger, so it was a weird feeling running out to nobody on All-Ireland Final day. But I think I the saddest part was not having our families there and being able to run over and hug them after the final whistle.
Best at running tests and best in the gym on the Dublin team? Nicole Owens for the running and Siobhan Woods in the gym.
You’re stranded on a desert Island, who are the three Dublin players you bring with you? For entertainment purposes, Eabha. Lucy Collins for the inspirational talks and to keep my dental hygiene in check. Muireann Ni Scanaill to get us through anything tough that would come at us. I won’t pick Sinead Goldrick or Niamh McEvoy because I have the pleasure of spending the next few months with them anyway!!
*** The Club, Advice & Memories ***
Who is your toughest opponent in club football? Definitely a toss up between Sinead Goldrick and Leah Caffrey. It’s never an easy game playing against either of them.
What’s your favourite memory playing for Kilmacud Crokes? It definitely has to be winning the Dublin Feile and getting to the All-Ireland Feile alongside girls that I had played with since Nursery. But also I am very proud of our current team making the semi final or final every year since we got promoted a few years ago – we haven’t got over the line yet but we’ll go again.
What player should we keep an eye on for the future? The little pocket rocket Caoimhe O’Connor.
Have you any advice for teenage footballers during lockdown? Get out everyday and do some sort of practice. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, just a light kick around or hand passing drill to a family member or against the wall. It’s really important to get out into the fresh air, get some exercise in and help your mind during these difficult times. Most of all, mind yourselves.
What advice would you give to younger players? To keep playing. There is such a high drop out rate in teenagers, due to making new friends in secondary school or maybe having more of a social life but I promise you will alway ls have time for your friends and for a social life outside of sport. Many of my old teammates stopped playing just as they got to secondary school or just as they were about to play Senior. Thankfully most of them have missed it after they left and have since returned to play for Kilmacud Crokes Intermediate team, which was great to see. The most important thing is to enjoy it. Don’t pressure yourself into playing if you aren’t enjoying it or if you are playing for your first team and you feel it’s too intense or serious, then maybe drop down a grade, where you can continue to play and and not be under as much pressure.
Any tips for coping with pre game nerves? The day before a big game I try to keep as busy without doing anything too strenuous. Things like meeting with friends for a walk or a coffee or when the cinema was open, I’d go there the evening before. Things to keep my mind off the game. On match day I’d always listen to music and focus on that. Nerves for me wouldn’t kick in until the changing room when the headphones are off. But it’s good to experience nerves so don’t be too worried about them. As soon as the game starts, they’ll be gone.
Top three tips for any young footballer on a senior panel? 1) Go express yourself, don’t hold back. Go and show your ability but always work hard while doing it. 2) Don’t be afraid to speak up and give your opinion on things. 3) Don’t be afraid to ask questions when there is drills or tactics that you don’t understand. You won’t be judged for this. Management and older players will appreciate your willingness to learn and get things right.
Did you always play midfield? No, I’ve played in most positions in defence too.
Would you like to see any changes in the rules of the LGFA? Like the sin-bin or physicality. I would definitely love to see the sin-binning gone. I think it takes away from the game, whether it be your team or the other team that receives one. I also think that the way the game has progressed and is going with teams having S&C coaches, that teams are a lot stronger. So I think more physicality should be allowed.
Best memory in football? Finding my Dad and giving him a massive hug after the 2017 All-Ireland final victory.
How much of an influence was your Dad on your early career? My Dad Johnny Magee is definitely the biggest influence on my career. Watching him and my uncle Darren Magee play for Dublin made me fall in love with the game from a very young age. Dad has done so much for me over the years to allow me to play football. For example I was in the Gaeltacht in Galway one year but had the All Ireland Feile in Mallow in Cork. Dad drove from Dublin to Galway to collect me, brought me all the way to Cork, helped manage our team, drove me back to Galway, before driving back home to Dublin himself. Parents don’t get enough recognition for what they do to enable their kids play a sport. Like the lifts all over the county or country and waiting during training, sometimes for hours before bringing them home.
Leinster Hockey have this week announced that Fionnuala OMalley from the North Kildare Hockey Club will receive the December 2020 Volunteer of the Month Award.
A member of North Kildare HC for many years, Fionnuala is the driving force behind the youth section of the club and for over a decade has given up her weekends to organise coaches and activites for the growing junior section (now numbering over 200) from tiny tots to Under 16s. Not content with that, Fionnuala also organises safety seminars, Covid 19 planning, coach development workshops, blitz events, fundraising and is a dab hand at baking cakes and teas as well!
Liz Hassett (North Kildare Secretary) added “our club would be lost without her organisation and dedication and Fionnuala’s contributions to the success of the club are immeasurable” while Junior Coach Daniel McSweeney that he had never known anyone to “work so hard and selflessly for a club”.
Leinster Hockey Chair, Trevor Watkins, congratulated Fionnuala on her award and thanked her for her work both within North Kildare HC and the Kildare region.
The nominations received by the Committee recognise volunteers in all areas of our sport – coaches, umpires, administrators, Children’s Officers, Covid Officers, committee members, fundraisers, social media secretaries – all of whom play a hugely important function within their clubs. Development Director, Fiona Walshe, thanked everyone for their submissions and in particular thanked all volunteers for “their tireless work” adding that “our success as a sport is attributed to their willingness and passion to see hockey grow and reach as many people as possible”.
Kilcock man Cormac Daly has today joined Connacht Rugby on a short-term deal.
Daly, who is a former Ireland U20s International, previously trained with the Connacht Professional squad during the 2019/20 season.
The 6’6’’ lock will provide additional cover following a number of international call-ups and injuries in the second row. He had been playing with his club Clontarf up until the most recent lockdown and even helped himself to a try in one of their last games before games drew to a halt.
Will Connors has kept his place at no7 for Ireland’s final Six Nations game against France in Paris this Saturday.
The former North Kildare Rugby player and under age Cappagh Gaa player Connors scored a try and was named player of the match in the victory over Italy at the Aviva Stadium last weekend.
Connors will be hoping he can help Ireland claim the Six Nations Championship title, with a bonus point victory needed to guarantee it as England will be expected to put up a big score against the Italians in the day’s earlier game in Rome.