By Robert Cox November 3rd 2020
First and foremost Claire, congratulations to you and Brian on your marriage. You looked wonderful on the day and I’d like to wish you a long and happy future together. How did you and Brian meet? Was it love at first sight?
C.O’S: “Thanks Robert, I really appreciate that and thank you for all your coverage of the LGFA. How did we meet? *laughs* It’s nothing mad to be honest. I went down to watch the Carbury lads playing a game one day with my friend. And this lad that I hadn’t seen before ran by me and the first thing I noticed were his legs! I commented to my friend that those were a nice pair of legs and asked her who they belonged too. That was it, I pursued him after that and ten years later here we are, the rest is history. You could say it was love at first sight, with his legs”
Robert ETS: With all that has gone in 2020 with Covid and the lockdowns it brought, did you ever consider pushing your wedding day out to 2021 or 22?
C.O’S: “No, we always kept our date. We weren’t going to have a big wedding anyway, we were always going to try our numbers relatively small. We both have big families and both play football so that was always going to be tough. We were at about 140 in terms of guests. But we never wanted to lose sight of why we wanted to get married in the first place. We decided to keep the date and plough ahead with it with regardless of what was happening. Logistically it didn’t make sense for us to try and change things around, with football and everything. We took everything in our stride and kept our original date of October 30th, as it turns out it fell on the same weekend as a big Championship game for me anyway”
Robert ETS: Did you have to make many sacrifices for your dream day to happen?
C.O’S: “To be honest we are two very chilled people. Our lives kind of revolve around football. We picked the 30th of October two years ago because we felt it was the safest day in terms of football. The County Finals in both men’s and ladies football are usually wrapped up by then. We worked everything around that but we didn’t factor in a world pandemic to come about. We just took everything in our stride, we are very relaxed. Neither of us are into making a big fuss about anything. We never once thought, oh our wedding is ruined now. You can get lost in the hustle and bustle of it all but we honestly didn’t want to lose sight why we wanted to get married in the first place. We just wanted to have a nice day with our families, have a nice meal and have a bit of craic and that’s what we did so it worked out perfectly for us”
Robert ETS: Getting married during lockdown must have brought its own challenges, did you get to have the 25 guests with you on the day and how did the venue accommodate you?
C.O’S: “Yeah we were able to have the 25 guests and ourselves so there was 27 of us in total. It was basically just our immediate families and their partners. It was really, really nice. Very intimate. We had it in Rathsallagh House, Wicklow. It’s amazing, it’s a gorgeous place. I’d highly recommend it to anyone planning to get married in the future. The staff were so helpful, not just in the day but in the build up too, evem before Covid came about. They really put us at ease and they followed every guideline. Joe, the owner, was on the phone to us weekly with updates. This is not an easy time for hotels, they were in the dark as much as we were but they came up trumps and I can not speak highly enough of them. We were lucky enough to get a beautiful day weather wise for the wedding and with Rathsallagh been so picturesque, we got some lovely photos around the grounds”
Robert ETS: It’s 2020, anything can happen. Did the build up and everything go to plan with the wedding or do you have any funny stories to tell us?
C.O’S: “Thankfully everything went to plan and their were no funny incidents on the day. I’m not a big drinker myself and on the Thursday before the wedding, I flew into Tesco to pick up a few bits for breakfast. Brian rang me while I was ye there and asked me would I pick him up a box of Heineken for that evening. So I obliged, I literally only brought my card in and when I got up to the checkout they asked me for ID. That was funny, I then had to go all the way back out to my car in the rain and get my drivers licence. Thankfully that’s the only funny thing that happened to me in the build up and as I said the day itself went smoothly”
Robert ETS: Because of lockdown and restrictions, did you have to omit anything that you would have liked to include in the build up or on your special day?
C.O’S: “We didn’t really have to leave anything out. Obviously the whole hair and makeup situation and not been allowed to have anyone to do that was a bit awkward. But I was training on the Wednesday night the week before the wedding and I had a few missed calls from my hairdresser. She was a bit panicked as she had to tell me she wasn’t allowed travel etc. I just got into my car after doing a full training session and I thought you know what, it’s fine. I’m not the worst at doing my own hair so to be honest, it all worked out. There was a few little things like that but other than that it was perfect”
Robert ETS: Had you a honeymoon planned and how has Covid and the restrictions affected those plans?
C.O’S: “We had a rough plan for a honeymoon. We kind of thought B.C (before Covid) we would do a week in Italy. We both thought that would be nice to spend a week there and see a few different places. Obviously that idea was out the window pretty quickly once Covid hit. We had other ideas but didn’t really plan anything. We have relatives and friends in San Francisco and we are big fans of them… and of course San Francisco!!We’ve two really good friends over there and they’ve had a baby recently so we thought we might get to visit them and maybe take in Vegas and Cancoon while we were at it but we had nothing booked thankfully. We’ll definitely get there at some point but we just don’t know when”
Robert ETS: Claire, your decision to play the game the same weekend as your wedding, was it a no brainer or had you any doubts?
C.O’S: “To be honest I was always going to play the game regardless of whether it was on the Saturday or the Sunday. I had been a regular at corner back. I worked hard to get my place and obviously I was one of the vice-captains this year, which is a great honor. Even before that I was always fully committed but with that extra bit of responsibility on my shoulders, I wanted to lead by example and set the tone so for me, the decision to play the game was never in doubt”
Robert ETS: Did you train on the week leading up to your wedding?
C.O’S: “The wedding was on the Friday. In fairness, I didnt train on the Wednesday. I did an extra running session on the Tuesday by myself and posted it into the player’s group just to show that I got my session in. Then I called over to team training on the Wednesday night to support the girls and to look on. Just in case I got a slap in the face or anything! Then I obviously missed the Friday but I think I had a good excuse for that one! That was it, that’s all I missed. It trained right up until full contact the week of. It was grand, one of the girls stood on my foot the previous Friday so I did have a nice green foot for the day. But these things happen, we do that a lot to each other, we are always giving each other little bumps and bruises. Neasa Dooley can vouch for that, I gave her a nice slap on the leg that same week too so she had a nice war wound also”
Robert ETS: Were you not worried abut picking up an injury at all, even in the weeks leading up to the wedding?
C.O’S: No as I said I think the girls were more worried about me picking up an injury than I was. I landed awkwardly on my wrist one of the nights about two weeks before the wedding. I had just called a kick out and as myself and one of the other girls went for the ball we clocked into eachother and fell. I fell down on my wrist and then the other girl fell down on top of me and it drove my wrist into the ground. That really, really hurt and I genuinely did think I had broken it. When that happened the collective sigh from the girls could be heard around the pitch. I think they were more stressed than I was”
Robert ETS: Football, Work, Wedding. It must have been an extremely busy few months for you?
C.O’S: “Yeah between the three and everything else it has been a busy time alright. But look you just can’t get overwhelmed by it all. You just have to take a deep breath sometimes and go with the flow. Just try and keep life as normal as possible. That’s all both of us wanted to do. I love football and I love training and thankfully with all that happened in 2020, I still have that. It was the one ray of light that we had to cling onto for the last few weeks”
Robert ETS: You’re one of the more experienced players on the current Kildare panel, when did you make your debut and can you give us a brief history of your time in white?
C.O’S: I was first on the panel when I was 18. Then I stepped away for it for a few years. This was for a number of reasons to be honest. In the main, I wasn’t really enjoying it. I would have been a lot shyer then and probably also taught I was a lot older than I was. But when I look at the girls that are in with us now that are 18, I think God they are so young. I just wouldn’t have been as confident in my football ability then either. I also felt guilty at the time about leaving the club. I remember trying to manage both trainings. I can see now that it’s just not possible. When you get a bit older and wiser you realise that the club understand and that you’re not abandoning them or anything.
I came back to the team in 2014 when John Divilly was manager. I was doing well, training was going good. We were senior then and obviously it was much tougher. My league start came out of the blue actually. It was against Down and I was wing back. It went well as I can remember but I was terrified. I was 21 and wasn’t expecting it. He never gave me a heads up, threw me in at the deep end but it was probably the best way to do it, I had no time to think about it. I guess his thinking was to just throw me in and see how I would react. Sink or swim. Thankully I swam! The more senior girls at the time, were telling me I did very well and to keep it up and I’d keep my place. Unfortunately the following Tuesday I went and played a club game and did my ankle in badly. So that was me gone for a few weeks and with it my chances of starting again for a while.
I went back in at the start of 2015. Well I trialled anyway. When I say trial, I went to one trial game. I just wasn’t really feeling it. I had doubts. Do I want to be here? Am I good enough? Do I have the confidence for this? Ultimately I only went to the one trial game and didn’t go back after that. I just knew at the time if I wasn’t fully committed to it then I didn’t want to be there so I stepped away.
It was 2017 before I came back. And since then I haven’t looked back. I’m in my 4th season in a row now. Obviously I feel I have done well and we have a great group of girls there at the minute”
Robert ETS: Kildare LGFA 2020 and the hopes for the rest of Championship?
C.O’S: As I said we’ve a great group of girls in here at the moment. We’re hoping to push on. We’re only taking it one game at a time as we have always done. We’re hopeful if we keep going and working hard, we will get our just rewards. At the moment, we aren’t looking any further than the Sligo game.
Robert ETS: Having been around Ladies football teams myself and knowing how they generous they are when it comes to one of their own celebrating a special occasion, I can only presume the girls showered you with gifts the week of the wedding?
C.O’S: “Of course. The girls are so thoughtful. They got me a lovely sketch of myself and Brian and our dog Tucker. It’s beautiful, it’s set in the backdrop of Rathsallagh. It’s by Jenny Murphy, she does a lot of LGFA sketches. We love it, she’s really good at what she does. They also got me a nice bottle of champagne, which is sitting here in my press staring at me. We’ll probably open it around Christmas or hopefully if we have something to celebrate with the football.
Robert ETS: Finally, the Clare game. How did that go and was it a bit surreal to be involved in it only two days after your wedding day?
C.O’S: “No, it was fine. I was always going to make myself available for selection. Unfortunately I didn’t start and to be honest it was harder looking on in the first half. When you’re watching on you just feel you’ve no control. That you just can’t help the girls and in the current climate it’s even harder as we (the subs) were far away in the stand and the girls could barely hear us cheering on. It was a bit strange watching and then obviously there was no supporters either. But thankfully I got on in the second half. I felt great, I wasn’t tired. I felt fresh. Basically the management team just asked me to come on and run. Just run. That’s what I like to do so that’s what I did. For me, it wasn’t a bit surreal at all. People did keep saying to me, how do you feel, how do you feel? But I was grand and was delighted to be a part of fantastic victory over Clare. I was delighted at the end of the game to get the win. I think in the video at the end you can just see me jumping up and down in some sort of a bunny hop. I was just ecstatic.
Once we got over the hurt of the league been scrapped when we were in such a good position and had qualified for the final, we just had to focus on Clare. That was our main aim. Obviously it was disappointing the way the league ended but we just had to park that and move on.
Myself and Brian are together ten years this week actually so nothing really changed you know. I felt fine. We bought our first house there three or four years ago so again, nothing really changed apart from the fact that we are now married. Our day to day life hasn’t changed. So for me to go and play a football game, it was just like any other game. The next one is always the most important.
For now I’m just looking forward to a bit of down time, it’s been a hectic time with all the planning. So I’m just going to enjoy the football for now alongside my newly married life and time with Brian”