Friday 15 December 2017

Aileen finishes first leg of her big week

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

FEMALE soccer star Aileen Gilroy made Leaving Certificate history in Switzerland yesterday.

And tomorrow, she and the rest of the Irish national under-17 women's football squad are hoping to triumph when they meet Spain in the UEFA ( Union of European Football Associations) championship finals.

The 17-year-old from Co Mayo sat her Agricultural Science paper in the UEFA building in Nyon, becoming the first person to complete a Leaving Cert exam in the Swiss headquarters of European soccer.

"It was a bit weird, sitting there on my own but it was grand," Aileen told the Irish Independent, adding that some of the questions on the paper were "a bit difficult".


Once the exam was over, Aileen joined the Irish team and the other three semi-finalists -- Germany, the Netherlands and Spain -- for a friendly get-together and a spot of bowling.

Afterwards there was a UEFA anti-doping seminar where the players were informed that some of them would face random drug tests today.

"We were given advice about what we could and could not take," she added.

The strict pre-match preparations saw the girls taking a 90-minute rest last night before having a light snack and turning in for an early night

The Irish team have already made history by beating reigning champions Germany 1-0 in the semi-finals earlier this week.

However, Aileen, a student at St Patrick's College, Lacken Cross, Ballina, Co Mayo, had her head in the books on Tuesday before the semi-final and was back at it again that evening.

The Irish team have found themselves among the powerhouses of European women's football this week.

They have also qualified for the FIFA Women's under-17 World Cup finals in Trinidad and Tobago in September. The FAI said they had "exceeded all expectations".

Aileen, who travelled to Switzerland with the rest of the team last Saturday, has taken the clash of the exams and the European championships in her stride.

"I found neither the preparations for the exams nor the football to be difficult -- and while I did study very hard, the football was a welcome break from the books," she said.

In typically upbeat fashion, she said the team were "feeling confident before meeting Germany and we are feeling the same about Spain".

Tomorrow's final at 12.30pm will be shown live on Eurosport and streamed by RTE.

Irish Independent

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