Tuesday, September 22, 2015

An interview with Aisling Holton

Aisling Holton, a player with the Kildare Ladies GAA Team, teaches Junior and senior infants in Brannoxtown National School for the past four years, writes Jacinta Sully. Not only is Aisling very popular with the staff and parents, she touches the hearts of all her students with her kind caring manner.

Her dedication and commitment not only shows on the pitch, but shows in her everyday duties in the school with her class. Aisling has used her experience in football to train the children in the Cumann na mBunscol football competition for the past four years in the school, where her talent has showed on the pitch through the children.

Aisling lives in Johnston Bridge with her parents Tommy and Maire, she has two brothers — Dairmuid her older brother (who now lives in New Zealand), and Des her younger brother. Both played football. Aisling went to Kilshanroe National School and to Edenderry Secondary school, then she went on to UCD to do her Arts Degree.

At this stage Aisling had not decided to become a teacher — she wanted to be a Physiotherapist. She then went to do teaching subbing in her old National School, and that’s when she found her love for teaching and, as they say, the rest is history.

Aisling started playing football for Carbury when she was 10 years old, she played with them for five or six years. Then Balyna, her local club, was formed and Aisling then started playing for them (I’m sure they were delighted with this young talented player) as well as playing for Balyna she also trained the U10/U12 girls team. Aisling has played for the Kildare ladies at underage U12, U14, U16, and Minor and now for the Senior Intermediate Ladies where she plays mid-field, and is captain of the team this year. The Kildare Ladies got to a Junior Football Final in 2004 where they played and beat Sligo in Croke Park, and I have no doubt that they will be the Senior Intermediate Ladies winners on Sunday 27th September in Croke Park.

I would like to thank Aisling for the chat I had with her and Fifth and Sixth classes, and to wish her and the team all the very best for Sunday. I’m sure her parents, brothers, friends and family are very proud of her. I know in Brannockstown we are certainly very proud of you Aisling, and one of our local massive football fans Anna-May Brady will be certainly cheering you on. I brought Aisling down to visit Anna May, where a chat about local history of people they both knew, as well as many a footballer etc. was talked about, where as always Anna May had the tea and her famous apple tart ready. Aisling and Anna May enjoyed the chat, and of course John was only delighted to see this Kildare lady player on his birthday, what more could any man ask for!!!!

Their interview went as follows:

Aisling, congratulations on your success so far. How do you feel about Kildare Ladies reaching the final?
Delighted. We’re very very happy to be there.

Did you get any injuries in the semi final that could affect your game?
We had one girl who got a dead-leg – Ellen Dowling just 10 minutes into the game. She was a big loss, when she went off, but we’re hoping to have her back for Sunday

Are you nervous?
There are a certain amount of nerves before a match but we’re taking it as another match

Are you training more or harder than usual?
We train 3 times a week, and next week, we’ll be going up to Croke Park to prepare mentally for the match

Do you fancy your chances?
We go into every match being confident, and looking for a performance more than anything, and we hope that if we perform well and do the best we can, we hope for success

Do you have confidence in your team?
Yes. I’d be very confident in the team. We’ve all put in a lot of work.

Do you think that everyone in your team is well-prepared?
Yes. We’ve trained so hard the last 10 months everyone is pushing themselves so hard in preparation for the final

Does the team have a strategy?
We play a different type of football for different types of matches. After our concession of 5 goals in our first match to Offaly, we knew that we would have to play a defensive match the next time we met them. We change our strategy depending on the team we’re up against.

How does it feel to be captain?
I am very very proud to be captain because there are a lot of leaders on the team. We all have to be leaders to play well.

If your team is losing, what do you do to encourage your teammates?
We go back to basics, and try to get the simple things right. Ultimately the big thing is hard work. So if for example a corner forward has to track back to the backline to put in a tackle that’s whats has to be done.

We have high hopes for a Kildare win next Sunday, but Kildare have had defeats in the past. How do you handle defeat?
We would be very disappointed, but its about getting back on the field again and get back to training sessions and try to put things right?

How do you handle nerves?
I would think about what I'm going to do in the match all the time. I do a lot of a thing called ‘visualisation’ to prepare myself and to handle nerves.

How do you celebrate a victory?
This year, we’ve all gathered together and discuss how we’ve done well/ After the final we and our families will go to a banquet to hopefully celebrate the win.

If you win, where will you put the trophy?
If we win, there would be a lot of visits to different schools. As a captain, I would have the trophy for a little while, but we’ll share the trophy around all the girls so that they can visit all the clubs.

What is the key to victory?
Hard work and a bit of confidence.

When you beat Offaly, what was the mood in the changing-rooms?
Delighted. Everyone was so excited to get the chance to play in Croke Park, and then to be in the final as well.

Do you think that it’s fair that men dominate Gaelic football?
The men deserve every bit of recognition that they get as they work so hard, but I would like to see the ladies getting a bit more recognition as well.

Are there many other teachers on your team?
You remember Miss Moolick who was here? She’s training to be a teacher. There are four of us altogether who are teachers.

How did you get involved in playing football?
I ’ve two brothers who play football so I started off playing with them when I was six, I then went to a small school like Brannoxtown, and everyone played football there, so that’s where I started off

At what age did you start?
I was seven when I started in school.

Do you think it’s hard to be a teacher and a competitive football player at the same time?
I think teaching is probably the better profession to be in when playing inter-county football as our peak season is the summer, so my job allows me to train in the gym and go swimming during the holidays. It’s easier than a lot of other jobs like that

What is your routine on the night before a big match?
I like to have a good dinner maybe around 8 o’clock, after that I like to stay at home, watch a bit of TV and have a quiet night.

Have you rehearsed your acceptance speech?
Not fully. I don’t believe in tempting fate. I know the people I’d like to thank, but that’s as far as I’ll go.