A lack of physical symptoms makes depression harder to bear

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/hub.1326407570.htmlNo high temperature, no flushed cheeks – the guilt that goes with having to justify mental illness can be almost as debilitating as the illness itself

This last week I have been laid low with flu. Proper flu, I mean, not a slightly feverish head-cold. The sort of flu I have only experienced once in my life before. And that was 20 years ago when I flew from Calcutta to Tokyo in the middle of a freezing winter. I had run out of money and was looking for work. For two days I lay in a shivering sweat on a three-tier Gaijin house bunk bed. (A Gaijin house translates literally as a “foreigner” house, a sort of longterm hostel for aliens like me.)
On the third day I forced myself outside, aware that, unless I found a job, I wouldn’t be able to pay for the nights I had already spent there. I remember half crawling around the streets, the slightest gradient leaving me wincing as it drove the cold air deeper into my lungs. It was a stressful situation, in short, and, looking back, a waste of a good dose of flu.
I’m not suggesting that having flu is fun – far from it – but there is a certain luxury to indulging a bout of physical illness, quite absent from my experience of periods of depression, for instance. Lying in bed, with a mug of hot Lemsip, surrounded by tissues – and sleeping dogs – thermometer gratifyingly high, cheeks flushed for additional validation. This time I was teaching when it struck, a workshop on Voice, by the end of which I had lost my voice so impressively I could only make gestures and squeak. “Go home,” they said. “Go to bed, keep warm, make yourself a hot toddy.” And so I did.
There’s something unarguable about physical illness. No need for justification. You’re ill. You need to take it easy. Nobody ever asks why you’ve got flu. Flu exists and you’ve got it. End of.
A serious depression can be far more incapacitating even than a nasty dose of flu. Yet I wonder how many people have claimed physical illness rather than admit to a mental health issue to excuse themselves from work or social commitments, or even a drink with a friend. I know I’ve done it. More than once. It is, let’s face it, so much less hassle to fabricate a tummy bug than to attempt to explain why you can’t get out of bed.
With mental health problems people want to know why. “Why are you depressed?” “What’s brought this on?” “You seemed so upbeat last week.”
There is a palpable sense of disappointment, frustration even; they want to talk you out of it. With physical illness it’s different. You’re ill. It’s not a question of choice. Friends may offer to take the dogs for a walk, bring round a bag of satsumas, but nobody tries to reason you out of flu.
Of course, the loudest and most persistent voice is the one inside your own head. However hard I try to reason with myself, however much I may have read about neurotransmitters, or genetics, or serotonin, the fact remains that I feel responsible for my depression in a way that would make no sense with physical illness. All too often it still feels like a weakness, a self-indulgence, something I should be able to snap out of. In fact, this sense of frustration with myself – of guilt, in short – can be almost as debilitating as the experience of depression itself.
It’s the subjective nature of mental health problems – the lack of obvious physical symptoms, the lack of a measurable temperature – that encourages this sense of self-reproach. A sense that is by no means reduced by the government’s current “So prove it!” approach to assessing sickness benefits, and the shamefully whipped-up hysteria concerning welfare “scroungers”.
But “subjective”‘, however inconvenient, does not mean “imaginary”. How ironic that the very fact that mental health problems do not, generally speaking, cause one to lose one’s voice should make it so hard for mentally ill people to be heard.
• Clare Allan is an author and writer on mental health issues.



Rugby star tackled feelings of depression by asking for help…

GAMES DON’T come much bigger than playing Leinster in the semi-final of the Heineken Cup in Croke Park, which I did with Munster in 2009. It’s a full house, 82,228, a worldrecord crowd for a club match, we’re the holders and we’ve beaten them twice already that season.
We’re going up there to take their scalp again. In the end Leinster beat us comfortably 25-6. They played very well and we played poorly.
It was hard to take, but harder still was the outcome of a moment of madness for me. I came to learn there were things worse than defeat.
I was cited for eye-gouging Leinster player Leo Cullen. There was nothing in it at the time, but the television replay told a different story.
Cullen wrote to the ERC (European Rugby Clubs) hearing, saying I had not put my fingers in his eye or touched his eye. Nevertheless, I still got a 12-week ban.
That meant I missed the Lions’ tour in the summer of 2009, a lifetime’s ambition thwarted in 0.4 seconds, the time it took for me to put my hand across Cullen’s face.

I became depressed. To feel that low and depressed in your life is horrible. I didn’t have any interest in going anywhere and doing anything.

Every minute was like an hour. The days were so long. I didn’t have any motivation to do anything. I felt like it was the end of the world. I felt sorry for myself.
It all manifested itself in those kinds of thoughts and feelings. I have been pretty hard on myself all my life. I would have had a lot of negative thoughts in my head over the years. I’m a nervous, worrying type of person.

I went to my GP and then to a psychologist. I gradually just spoke about how I was feeling and tried to change the way I thought about things.

Luckily, I had great support from my friends and families and that is how I got out of the rut.
The season came around again and I knew I had two choices. I could stay at the bottom of the barrel or I could claw my way out of it.
Over time I changed my thought processes with a lot of help from other people. I will always have the regret and the disappointment of missing out on the Lions’ tour, but it happened and there is nothing I can do about it.
Being down at that time was a good opportunity for me to analyse where I was at and the mistakes I had made in my life.
I am a very stressful sort of person. I would suffer a lot from anxiety which, in turn, would make me feel depressed and feel bad.

It gave me an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and say to myself, “It’s not the end of the world”, and try to change my behaviour, the way I act and the way I think.

When people ask me, I say that I don’t suffer from depression. I suffer from anxiety and stress which makes me depressed.
It was a great opportunity for me to stop being such a worrier and stressed and anxious about myself.
Being a Munster player is a pressure in itself. On the one level we are tough and strong and have made a lot of sacrifices in our lives to achieve great success.
On the other hand, we are just normal people who motivate themselves to achieve what we have achieved.
My childhood in Tipperary was one of great freedom, great fun, but, looking back, I started working too early. I was earning money in summer jobs and not even spending it.
The need to work, to earn money, has been like a pressure cooker all my life. It’s made me stressed and worried.
When I first broke into the Munster team I went to a doctor with depression. I was thinking about the future a lot and worrying about it, but it passed at that stage.
There is a macho image which means that you can’t display any weaknesses and I just played off that at the time.
I’m quite soft. I get emotional, but, at the same time, I was talkative on the field and in the media. I was strong and could look after my problems.
That would have been an attitude I had growing up. I didn’t need to talk to anyone. I can solve all my problems.
I got into bad habits of withholding my fears and anxiety. It is now a part of my experience that there is no shame in sitting down with a family member or a friend to talk about fears and anxieties.
I’m very much aware nowadays of what makes me happy and I’ve spent a bit of time taking time out to relax. I see myself as a work in progress.
I announced my retirement in April and the Munster fans gave me a rousing ovation when I left the pitch against Connacht in what was probably my last competitive game at home.
I found that deeply moving and it gives me hope for the future. I’ve been preparing myself for a long time to give up playing rugby and it is a challenge. I look at it as a new stage in my life. I’m trying to be positive. I keep saying to myself that I won’t have
that prestion.
I have responsibilities as a father now which are the most important thing in my life. For both his mother Ruth and I, AJ is the light of our lives.
At the end of the day I have a positive story to tell because people can get through what I experienced if they are willing to talk about it.

Taken from ‘The Irish Times e’

Premier league hero Dean Windass: I’ve tried to commit suicide twice in the last week

In an astonishingly frank and courageous interview, former Premier League hero Dean Windass has revealed how last week he tried to commit suicide twice.

Little more than a month after the suicide of fellow footballer Gary Speed shocked the football world, ex Hull and Bradford striker Windass told how battles with drink and depression led him to try to take his own life.

The father-of-two has struggled to adjust to life since quitting football two years ago and says he has cried every day.

Shock: Dean Windass has told how he tried to commit suicide twice last week after slipping into the grips of depression

Shock: Former Premier League footballer Dean Windass has told how he tried to commit suicide twice last week after slipping into the grips of depression

Last year he split from Helen, his police officer wife of 18 years, after she found out he had been seeing a girl he’d met in a pub behind her back.
And just a few days ago, following the sudden death of his father, Dean attempted to take an overdose of pills.

Luckily a former girlfriend turned up at his door in the nick of time and, realising what he had done, forced him to drink pints of water until he was sick.
But the following day after slipping back into the grips of depression and drinking half a bottle of strong amaretto liqueur, he tried to commit suicide again.

Glory days: Dean Windass celebrates Hull's victory in the 2008 Coca Cola Championship Playoff Final match. He scored the goal that took his home-town club into the top flight for the first time and was nominated man of the match

Glory days: Windass celebrates Hull’s victory in the 2008 Coca Cola Championship Playoff Final match. He scored the goal that took his home-town club into the top flight for the first time and was nominated man of the match
Passion: Windass clashes with Arsenal's Patrick Viera during his days at Middlesbrough
Dean Windass turns out for Bradford against Coventry in 2003
Passion: (left) Windass clashes with Arsenal’s Patrick Viera during his days at Middlesbrough and (right) turning out for Bradford against Coventry in 2003
For a second time he was saved by a miraculous stroke of luck – when a friend of his knocked on the door.

At the height of his fame Windass was earning more than half a million pounds a year.
In 2008 he scored the goal that would take his home town club Hull into the top flight of English football for the first time in their 104-year history.
He also appeared in the Premier League for Bradford City and Middlesbrough and played in the Scottish Premier League with Aberdeen before ending his professional career, which spanned 19 seasons, in 2010.
Loved by the fans for his passion on the pitch, with a beautiful wife and loving family it seemed he had it all.
But after squandering most of his fortune on clothes and top-of-the-range cars Windass has been left almost bankrupt, unable even to pay for his son’s car insurance.
After retiring from playing Dean had hoped to move into management. But things didn’t work out and he found it impossible to get work.

Family: Windass split from Helen, his wife of 18 years, after she found out he had been seeing a girl he had met in the pub. The pair have two children together

Family: Windass split from Helen, his wife of 18 years, after she found out he had been seeing a girl he had met in the pub. The pair have two children together
Difficulties: Windass has struggled to adjust to life since retiring from football two years ago

Difficulties: Windass has struggled to adjust to life since retiring from football two years ago

Without the day to day routine that football had provided for so many years he quickly spiralled into a self-destructive lifestyle, filling most of his days with trips to the pub.
And with his reputation as a local hero, fellow drinkers were only too eager to keep buying him pints.
Windass, who at 42 is the same age as Gary Speed, told The People newspaper of his troubles which include the breakup of his 18-year marriage, drinking and financial worries.
He said: ‘People outside football think we have it all. But I was in a hole that I honestly didn’t know how to get out of.

Windass said the suicide of Wales manager Gary Speed in NOvember last year had a huge impact on him

Windass said the suicide of Wales manager Gary Speed in November last year had a huge impact on him

‘Just over a week ago I hit rock bottom and decided to end it all.
‘I first took an overdose and when that didn’t work tried to hang myself. I felt so alone and believed I had nothing to live for.
‘I need to sort myself out which is why I’m speaking out now. It’s part of me getting better – part of the healing process.
‘People have this image of me as this big strong man who can take anything life throws at him. But I’m not ashamed to say I wanted to end it after a string of setbacks.”
‘I knew I’d been a fool but I couldn’t shake off the depression at feeling what a failure I’d become.”
Windass said he could not cope after finishing his career and began drinking, often consuming 15 pints of lager and lime.

He said his marriage broke up and with little income, estranged from his family and grieving for his father John who had recently died, he decided to kill himself.
Luckily a former girlfriend turned up and saved him.
He said the following day, he tried again to take his own life.
‘I tied it to a handrail at the top of the stairs but it was too long. I was quite drunk and couldn’t get it to work so I got a belt instead. At that point a friend came round so I couldn’t go through with it.”
He added: ‘We’re not the brightest but you play football all your life. There are hundreds of footballers in the same boat (after retirement). There is nothing to get up for in the morning.’

Robert Enke’s life story should make us pause before we castigate

There was, very recently, a case in the Bundesliga of a player who wanted to kill himself. When it came to light, the club arranged for the player to be privately admitted to a clinic, they kept in regular contact with his doctors, and continued the full payment of his salary for the duration of his treatment.
Nobody can say for sure whether this would have happened were it not for the heartbreaking example of Robert Enke, the Germany goalkeeper who suffered from depression and took his own life two years ago. But it is clear that football in Germany is more enlightened about the psychological pressures on its elite sportsmen than most. There is now a network of sports psychiatrists available to the Bundesliga – a job description that did not used to exist – which works outside of clubs to help those afraid of being open about their problems. And there is less severity from the public when someone in football appears to be experiencing a hard time, as if there is a tacit acknowledgement that life at the sharp end is not necessarily the dream job that it is supposed to be, millionaire wages or not.
The writer Ronald Reng, who was a friend of Enke’s and took on the task of accounting his story in the exceptional book A Life Too Short – The Tragedy Of Robert Enke, has been taken aback by the reaction to this deeply personal memoir. The book became a bestseller in Germany straight away, and he cannot even begin to count how many people with depression wrote to him, and how many players and agents called him up to talk about issues so easily kept hidden that he had brought to the surface.
“The last wish Robert had was to write this book,” says Reng. “At least there is an understanding of what someone suffering depression goes through. Through Robert’s death there is in Germany a higher understanding that this is an illness and that people need help.”
It is an extraordinary and vivid account, which evokes Enke’s feelings of escalating anxiety in what might be perceived as everyday occurrences for a footballer. The stress of trying to avoid mistakes, the fear of public ridicule, the worry about the coach’s decisions, the dread of moving to a new club and into the unknown. Reng recounts conversations between Enke and his friends and family, his team-mates and goalkeeping rivals, and what comes across so painfully is the way episodes of depression changed Enke from a warm, kind and thoughtful man into someone so troubled that he could barely face getting out of bed.
Contemplating Enke’s worries as he begins training at Barcelona under Louis van Gaal, or his desperation as he sits in a room in Istanbul and realises he cannot go through with a move to Fenerbahce that all parties have agreed on, or his doubts about the competition to be Germany’s No1 for the 2010 World Cup, makes you stop for a moment and reassess the criticism of footballers we dole out so freely, as media and as fans.
There is clearly an important distinction to be made between Enke, whose illness cost him his life, and those in football who are experiencing setbacks. But it is not so terrible to give some thought to the pressure-cooker environment high level sportsmen exist within. Footballer X misses the latest in a series of sitters? Manager Y has lost the game, the dressing room, and quite possibly the plot? Referee Z flunks the critical decision in the game? In English football the default reaction is to mock, to berate, to intimidate. After reading Reng’s book I have looked in the mirror and felt ashamed about some opinions I have dived into. It is so easy to rush to judgment, to make a cartoon villain of someone or vent spleen from a position of the supposed moral high ground.
Reng, who worked in England for several years, is interested to note the cultural differences in terms of relations between the players and the public. “The image of the footballer in England is just terrible at the moment,” he says. “They are just seen like prats, like young people misbehaving. It is not as cliched in Germany. It is not the case that you automatically expect a footballer to have lost contact with reality. In fact it is quite the opposite. The number of footballers in the Bundesliga who have done [the German equivalent of] A-levels is higher than the national average. They are much better educated, and in general have a much more positive image and are treated respectfully.”
Reng’s book has been translated into English and Dutch, and we can only hope that the message that has filtered through German football has a wider spread.

Taken from ‘theguardian.co.uk’

Kilcock Ladies Gaelic Football Club Annual Report 2011

‘’If at first you don’t succeed, then try and try again’’…. This was definitely the never say die attitude of this bunch of ladies as they finally claimed the elusive junior b championship after a nail-biting final against Kilcullen at Sallins in September. The bulk of this team had been denied in heart breaking fashion twelve months previously, when defeated by Carbury, while players such as Fiona Campion, Linda Byrne, Sheena Byrne, Therese Macken And Bernie Durkan had also tasted defeat in ‘03’, losing out to Na Fianna. In hindsight this year just gone out always had the feel about it that this team, mixed with perfectly with youth and experience, would do something special. But these things don’t happen just because you think they will, they happen through great work and endeavour from everyone involved. And not to sound repetitive to last years’ report but the reason this team got to where they wanted to, stems back 10 odd years ago when the underage was set up and boy are they reaping the benefits now, with the latest crop including talent such as Emma Maguire, Caoimhe Fagan, Grace White and young player of the year elect, Aishling O’Connor!!  The job of mixing all these ingredients together fell on the shoulders of incoming manager Shane Stone and his selection team of Seamus Kane, David Hynes and Robert Cox.
 As it happens the year started out with Stone and his backroom team double jobbing, with them also in charge of the minor team that made it all the way to the final only to be beaten by a very strong Athy team but who will ever forget their epic semi-final win over Leixlip in their own back yard on that cold, February night. This run to the final helped all involved as it meant the minors trained with the seniors right through till March/April when they were all put through their paces in the GAA hall with many a sit up and squat done along the way. It wasn’t all training though and the key to a successful year to come was probably in the numerous challenge games contested and won, against tough opposition such as Skryne, Summerhiil and Walterstown from Meath and Celbridge, twice, from Kildare. In this time it was deceided that Shona Cagney would stay on as captain from 2010 and with all the pre-sesaon preparation in place, it was time to tackle division 3 of the league head on! Unfortunately after all the hard work and preparation, the girls didn’t make the best possible start to the league, losing at home to Kilcullen but that was to be the first of only two bumps on the road in the group stages as they recovered to beat a fancied Ballykelly side 2:06 to 0:10 in round two, in Ballykelly. Na Fianna were next up, back at Kilcock and the girls made light work of them, whilst chalking up and impressive scoring tally along the way, 1:15 to 1:06. While the forwards may have been getting all the praise in these early games, they can thank their defence for been in a miserly mood throughout, rarely conceding more than ten scores as Moorefield were to find out both home and away, the home score been practicularly impressive as the ladies ran out convincing 3:20 to 1:02 winners. Na fianna away proved to be one of the girls more hard fought  victories, but they showed a character and determination that night that said to me this bunch of players were ready to take that next step, ready to pull a win from the jaws of defeat, as they did, coming from behind to win 2:13 to 1:13..Another big win was just around the corner, this time beating Kilcullen away by 3:14 to 0:10 and they rounded off the round robin stages by firstly receiving a setback, losing away to Athgarvan before defeating Ballykelly and the former, both at home. All this meant that a semi-final beckoned and as Stone’s troops topped the table, they would be due to play the fourth placed team and have home advantage in doing so.

With all the results in, their opponents turned out to be Na Fianna of Allenwood, always a tricky side but a side on the decline and with their county star Stacey Cannon sidelined through injury, Kilcock easily disposed of them on a scoreline of 2:09 to 0:04 and got ready to march onto another final, where Ballykelly would await them, Ballykelly, a side they had
beaten twice in the group, but the Ballykelly side that turned up to Sallins that night, meant business, they were out for revenge and would go through anyone to get it and right from the off they dominated a shell-shocked and youthful Kilcock side. You just can’t prepare for that, the girls trained harder than ever in the build up to that final, they had Dermot Earley in for a chat on the Sunday previous to it which in hindsight really only paid off later in the year but unfortunately the league final came too early.  The venue, Sallins, didn’t really help either as it had got into the girls’ head that that pitch had become a bit of a hoodoo place for them. It must have been that night, Ballkelly raced into a 2:01 to no score lead after only 4mins before Emma Robinson would register Kilcock’s first score, a goal after 6mins. That was to be as close as kilcock would get to the south Kildare side that night though and after 15mins it was 3:04 to 1:00. Grace White (2), Emma Robinson and Noelle Conlon (both 1pt) put some respect on the board just before the break, a board that read Ballykelly 3:06 Kilcock 1:04. One thing about this team though is that they will never accept that their beaten and came out in the second half and notched up 2:04, the goals coming from White and Robinson again, the points from Robinson, White, Emma Hoare and Louise Keane. Ballykelly never really let up though and in fairness were full value for their win on a final scoreline of 4:10 to 3:08. Best for Kilcock was captain Shona Cagney in defence, Sheena Byrne at midfield and Emma Robinson and Grace White upfront. In a way this loss would serve as a blessing in disguise because if any team could bounce back up and start preparing for the championship a week later, it was going to be this bunch of determined girls and in Stone they also had a determined manager…. The future was bright.

 Goalkeeper Eimear Kelly was to be rewarded for her many clean sheets, brave saves and overall leadership from between the posts, with a call up to the Kildare Senior Ladies for their qualifier against Dublin and though Eimear ended up on the losing side, we would all like to wish her a big well done on her great personal achievement, some say it’s that Royal Green Blood that flows through her veins, others say it’s the experience of plying her trade in Kildare… I’ll leave that one up to urself!!! Workrate, preparation, everything was upped after that final loss. Dublin Ladies Manager Tommy Brown was drafted in for a training session and a big thank you goes to him for his time and help, to the girls he was no Dermot Earley but what he was, was a tactically astute coach that had lead Dublin to All-Ireland glory the previous summer. Challenge games were played and won against Celbridge, Naas and Na Fianna (Enfield) with a surprise defeat sandwiched inbetween at the hands of Moynalvey but in all mood in the camp was good for what was going to be the biggest month of the year. The auld enemy Na Fianna were up first at home in the championship, a championship which was again going to be determined on a round robin basis with the top four from five progressing to the semis. Once again Na Fianna were beaten as were Moorefield, the latter by 3:16 to 1:06 , again on home soil, both infront of an impressive attendance, as the Ladies challenge  gathered pace, the crowds started hearing of it and came out to support!! Athgarvan at home proved tough but they were dispatched as were Kilcullen, receiving similar treatment the same week by 1:13 to 0:03.Once again the girls topped the table but maybe they may have wished they hadn’t as it meant Athgarvan were up next in the semi-final of the championship in what will go down in history as surely the roughest game ever played in Kilcock GAA. The late, great Joe Frasier would have been proud of some of the away team while the home team were more Rocky Balboa as they they took punch after punch, never once retaliating, once again true testament to their character, instead they hit Athgarvan where it hurt, on the scoreboard. 0:13 to 1:07. Looking back this game stood to them massively as no matter what was to come it wouldn’t have matched what they had just defeated. Also everyone was more prepared having just lost a final a few weeks previously.

So the days leading up to the final against Kilcullen (who had defeated Na Fianna in the other semi) were much more low key, their was no big speeches, no watching dvds of old games, no Dermot Earley. The girls knew what they had to do and the management knew that too. The trust was there…. Only one small problem…. Kilcock v Kilcullen @7pm Saturday….SALLINS!!! This time round there was no be no early steam-rolling from the opposition, no surprises, no bogey pitches. After all the years of chasing that holy grail, the girls finally did it. Being honest, I was too nervous to take scores that night or a report so i’m relying on memory and some help from others. The final score was Kilcock 1:15 Kilcullen 4:03. Full back Linda Byrne was assigned the job of containing Kilcullen’s danger player for the hour and she did so, ably. Centre back Aishling O’Connor, at the tender age of thirteen, played to a level way beyond her years and was only pipped for player of the game by the magical forward Grace White, who weaved her way through the Raggettes defence on numerous occasions to score 1:03, the goal worthy of winning any goal-of-the-month competition. Emma Hoare was also in fine form scoring 6pts, while Katie Devine popped up to  score 2pts of her own from wing back. Further points from Caoimhe Fagan (2), Sheena Byrne and Noelle Conlon (1pt each), all helped to seal the win on a great day for the ladies. It is hard to give everyone a mention after a win like this but everyone from Eimear Kelly down to all the subs that didn’t get a run on the night, can be proud of themselves. There was some relief when the final whistle blew, as Kilcullen were mounting a fightback but the girls held out and they along with their friends and family all invaded the pitch to embrace one and other before watching Shona Cagney accept the cup on their behalf. The years of hurt were over and as emotions ran high, grown men fought to hold back the tears.

 The management would like to thank every player involved this year, be it if you only trained once or never missed training. Your hard work helped make it such a special year for all. In return on behalf of her team-mates captain Shona Cagney would like to thank Shane for all his time and effort during the year, for without him none of this would have been possible, he brought a professionalism to the table in some ways that had not been there before. At the time of going to press, both parties look forward to linking up again in 2012 for an assault on division three and the junior a championship. Robert, Seamus and David are also to be thanked as every manager needs his backroom team, even if the three of them didn’t succeed in their one goal of trying to keep Shane off the pitch during games!! A big thank you goes out to Physio Gerry Long, who gave up his time to be at every game to help get the girls back on the pitch as quickly as possible. Thanks Gerry. As ever thank you to Breda Byrne for been the best kit person a team could have… Breda is currently travelling the world during the off-season collecting oranges for the girls half-times next year!! The girls would like to thank everyone in the wider Kilcock GAA community for their support during the year and for their co-operation on subjects such as pitches etc and look forward to such a close relationship in the coming years. Finally thank you to Nicky, Calvin and to anyone else we may have left out that did a job no matter how big or small. The Kilcock Ladies have a great togetherness going and with the underage system running smoothly, the future is bright.. 2011 will be hard beaten but knowing this group of girls, they will try……

By.  Robert Cox

Kildare Ladies Junior B Champ Final 11-Kilcock v Kilcullen

Result: Kilcock 1:15  Kilcullen 4:03
Kilcock Scorers:
Emma Rochford 0:06
Grace White 1:03
Katie Devine 0:02
Caoimhe Fagan 0:02
Sheena Byrne 0:01
Noelle Conlon 0:01

1: Eimear Kelly – County goalie Kelly will be the first to admit that by her high standards she didn’t have the best of days between the sticks but realistically there wasn’t much she could have done about two of the goals and had it not of been for her many point-blank saves and ability to pluck a high ball out of the sky, Kilcock would not have been within a sniff of this final. In Ladies football a solid goalie is key and Kilcock can be thankful that Kelly made the short trip over the Meath/Kildare border a few years back, from Blackhall Gaels. A fine forward in the past before switching to the number one spot in 2006, Kelly showed glimpses of her versatility by coming on full-forward against Celbridge earlier on in the season and scoring four second half points off left and right foot. A great year both personally and collectively for her as she made her Kildare Senior debut v Dublin in the championship and won her first champioship with Kilcock on saturday night. Eimear may be a quiet girl off the field but if her defence are not pulling their weight on it, she will be the first to let them know…and her transfer to goals five years ago is one of the main reasons Kilcock Ladies are where they are today.

Champ.Final Rating: 5.5
Overall Season Rating: 7.5

2: Fiona Campion – Corner back Fiona Campion has been Ms.Versatility over the past few years, playing many positions ranging from corner back to corner forward but this year new manager Shane Stone has seemed to have found Campion’s best and most affective place on the field, still it took a few challenge and league games to find this and when Stone did make the change, Campion made the position her own, been at her best dispossessing corner forwards, bursting out with the ball and linking up with the half back line and midfield. She had a ding-dong battle with her opponent in the final and was at times up against it but in all she can be happy with her performance, knowing she left nothing behind her on the pitch as she emptied the tank and made way for Therese Macken with fifteen minutes to go. A well deserved first championship medal for Campion after many years of hard work and dedication. And lets hope she can add a Junior A medal over the next year or two as for Kilcock to continue to progress as a team they need experience like that of Fiona’s.

Champ Final Rating: 6.5
Overall Season Rating: 7

3: Linda Byrne: – Another player who had to adapt to a new position this year was Linda Byrne, and though at times she may have preferred to be on the half-back line as of years gone by, she really grew into the role at full-back and as each game went on she went from strength to strength and frustrated many a dangerous number fourteen along the way. At times it wasn’t easy and she picked up numerous hefty knocks from full-forwards trying to force their way to goal (most notably against Athgarvan in the semi-final and Kilcullen in the final) but each time she popped straight back up and resumed her mission to protect her goalie Eimear Kelly. In the final Byrne had her hands full throughout with Jayne Peacock, a full-forward anyone at this level would love to have in their ranks, and though the scoresheet will show Peacock bagged a hat-trick, this was a bruising battle that Byrne won on more than her fair share of times, throwing a hand in where some people woudln’t put a boot in. Her distribution was top notch all the way through and to get to her feet after a heavy tackle early on was testiment to her character and determination, something that she showed not only on saturday but all year. Linda is a girl that never misses training and is a perfect role model for any young, budding footballer.

Champ Final Rating: 7 
Overall Season Rating: 7.5

4: Mary Tighe – Mary Tighe completed the line-up for the full back line on saturday and she, like the two ladies beside her, had the difficult task of keeping the Kilcullen full forward lines scores to a minimum. Unlike Byrne’s opponent beside here, Tighe’s posed a different threat. She had speed to burn and ran at Kilcock at any given chance but luckily for Kilcock Mary Tighe was in no mood to give away any easy chances on the night, showing utter determination all through the game. At times she may have been guilty for giving her player too much space but Tighe is cute, she would let her opponent receive the ball and then pounce, forcing Kilcullen’s number 13 to lose possession, be blocked down or to kick a wide. When on the ball, Tighe used it well and fed her wing backs and mid-field. She may have been caught out a little for the last goal but it doesn’t take away from an all round solid display from the Laragh Girl. It was a great end to the season for her, a season that didn’t always look like she would gain the no.4 jersey for a county final as she struggled to break into the team early on due to college comittments and a summer working abroad but when available to committ towards the end, she gave 100% and nobody could begrudge her the starting spot over the last few games. Mary is a player much liked by her peers on the pitch and off and always lights up a training session with her chatty, mild-mannered character.
Champ Final Rating: 7
Overall Season Rating: 6.5

5: Orla Cagney – Orla Cagney, like Tighe before her, had an up and down season but also like Tighe there were a lot more ups than downs and Orla’s story on her good finish to the season is all the more remarkable having suffered a bad shoulder injury early on in the championship, forcing her to miss some games and also suffering a bad knee injury in the league, forcing her to miss the league run-in and the final loss to Ballykelly. But Cagney came right at the crucial time of the year and it was fitting to see her don the number 5 jersey on saturday night but not only don it but do it proud and put in sixty minutes of hard work and endeavour. Earlier on in the year when she had been fit to play, she like so many others of similar versatility were tried in numerous positions and though she did well at half forward and full forward, you could see her notable comfort at right-half-back, where she not only defended well but attacked at any given opportunity, adding pressure to Kilcullen’s defence. Orla never lacks effort and she got her just reward with a championship medal at the end of a difficult year. Kilcock will hope that she can stay clear of injuries that have haunted her past cos if she does it will be a major boost in their future quest for a Junior A Championship.
Champ Final Rating: 7.5
Overall Season Rating: 7

6: Aishling O’Connor – Centre Back.We all like to make brash predictions when we’re talking footy with our mates. And more often than not we’re wrong, which leads to a ribbing and possibly the loss of fiver. But none of us here have ever had these predictions broadcast to millions of football viewers – that would be awfully embarrassing if you got it wrong, wouldn’t it? One man who knows how this feels is Alan Hansen,who in 1995 announced on Match of the Day that “You’ll never win anything with kids” after a young Manchester United side lost the season opener to Aston Villa 3-1. That same side went onto win the league and cup that season.. Some people probably thought the same of The Kilcock Ladies at times through this year, with a large chunk of the panel u-16 and a few of them u-14. And no disrespect to any of the other girls in that bracket but thirteen year old Aishling O’Connor was on saturday night, and all year, a star. She showed a skill and a determination beyond her years. On that Man United team were names such as Scholes, Neville, Butt and a certain Mr.Beckham and if Aishling continues to play like she has done up to now for the rest of her career, her name will be a household one in GAA circles just like the aforementioned men were in the world of soccer. Aishling has been one of the first names on manager Shane Stone’s teamsheet all year, despite her age and to hand such a main role as centre back to a girl so young shows how much believe he has in her. On saturday night she controlled her defence, kept her players’ interest in the game to the minimum and attacked with purpose at every available opportunity. She didnt just solo needlessly forward though, she always found her target in the forward line either with a hand pass or a perfectly executed foot pass. Personally I would see her future as maybe a centre forward because in her i can see her footballing brain and in that position she could control games for years to come. In her brief cameo appearance at centre forward this year, the semi final v Athgarvan, she immediately got possession and cleverly found the unmarked Sheena Byrne in a better position, who banged the ball home for a goal. Her vision and coolness at such a tender age is what makes her the player she is. If I was to make comparisons in the GAA world, she reminds me of the great Trevor Giles that played for Meath in the late 90’s and early 00’s. One hopes football and life is kind to this rare talent as they don’t come along very often. One bit of advice I would have for Aishling is to enjoy your championship win and though I hope you have many more, they are not easily won….You have to continue to work hard…..
Champ Final Rating: 8.5
Overall Season Rating: 8.5

Player Profiles: Ciara Leonard

Name: Ciara Leonard

Current position: Corner Back

Fav position: Half Foward

Best sporting memory: Winning The Minor Final In ’08’ And U-15 Final

Worst sporting memory: Losing The Leinster Final With The School And Losing The Minor Final Against Athy In ’10’

Hardest trainer on ladies team: Shona Cagney

Toughest opponent faced: Athy

Other hobbies: Shopping, Playing The Piano And Singing

Fav drink: Coke

Fav food: Chocolate

Fav film: The Notebook

What song would u like to be playing as u run out onto the field: ”Champion Chipmunk And Chris Brown

Fav band: The Script And Westlife

Where wud u most like to visit in the world: Australia

Biscuit or cake: Cake

Tea or coffee: Tea

Milk or water: Water

Fav tv programme: Home And Away

Johnny Depp or David Beckham: David Beckham

Fav sports person: Dermot Earley, Playing On The Same Day As His Dads Funeral…Hero 🙂

Biggest joker on the team: Deirbhle Mulvihill

Biggest talker on the team: Laura O’Neill

Any superstitions before a game: No