Sunday 18 March 2018

Ambassador Anna eyes final prize

Sheila Fitzgerald

THE recent All Ireland semi-final win, four All Star awards, and her work as an Ambassador for Youth on the Move all sit lightly on the shoulders of the gifted and enthusiastic Anna Geary.

One of Milford's most famous exports, Anna took some time out to chat to the Corkman about her team's recent significant success, her love of sport, and her key role in helping young people to realise their dreams and ambitions through her involvement with the Youth on the Move initiative.

The adrenaline generated by Milford's landmark win was still clearly in evidence when I chatted to Anna. "It's easy to talk about it now that we've come out the right side of it!", she laughed. "When you're preparing for something like this, you're in uncharted waters, and sometimes during the long dark winter nights it's a big commitment, but there's huge credit due to everyone.

"We have 31 on the panel and four involved in management, and the team effort that was put in during the last few weeks really told it's own story, because everyone who was at the game would have remarked that the intensity that we brought to it from the word go was probably the reason we were in such a comfortable position at half time".

Anna remarked that the team chose to play with the wind, which is unusual for them, and also that their captain Elaine won the toss which was "another good omen".

"We knew we would have to start at a really high level and drive on from there", Anna continued, "so I think the more we pushed and the intensity we brought probably unnerved them (their rivals Oulart the Ballagh) somewhat, because we began registering scores on the board and kept up the momentum.

"We had worked so hard for the first 45 minutes and that allowed us a bit of leeway, and, my God, it was a dream come true. We had resolved that we were really going to push for that elusive title because we had been so close in the last few years."

Anna explained that although in the lead up to the match the collective commitment to training and preparation was fantastic, individual efforts put in by all the girls really paid off. "They were going to the gym", she said, "doing their own exercises, and anyone who had an injury was working on that, and while we trained three nights a week, outside of that the input was massive, and it's great to stand back and see that it was worth it all, but we're not getting carried away either!".

Sport is intrinsically woven into the Geary family's DNA. Anna's uncle, Martin, played inter county hurling with Limerick and she remarks that "from a young age, a hurley was put into my hand".

She pays tribute to Ann Watson who set up a camogie team in Milford while Anna was in primary school. "She encouraged us to play and we won Sciath na Scoil tournaments and did well at the Community Games, and from there it really started to flourish".

As a pupil at St. Mary's in Charleville, Anna really began to shine as a star player, winning 10 All Ireland medals during her time as a student there.

After being elected to the Cork senior panel in 2003, she continued to consolidate her success on the camogie pitch - she has four All Star awards to date, and is "honoured to be captaining the Cork camogie Senior team this year".

Then, in November of 2011, Anna got a call asking her to become an Ambassador for the Youth on the Move initiative, which encourages young people to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth in the European Union.

"I suppose I'm very fortunate that sport has led me down a lot of different avenues," Anna remarked.

"Predominately, the reason I was asked to get involved was because I spent a year in Luxembourg doing my co-op placement as a student at the University of Limerick, and also due to the fact that they wanted someone who would be fairly well known and visible in the media".

Anna said that, particularly in this climate, it is vitally important for young people to understand that nowadays travel and living abroad is as important on their CV as work experience and education.

"If there is a pile of CVs on someone's desk, all with great degrees and good work experience, something has to stand out, so a work placement or Erasmus abroad can be a unique selling point," she said.

In her voluntary role as Ambassador, her predominant work involves giving talks and outlining the various options available to those who are interested in travelling, studying, and working abroad.

As well as working full time at her job in Cork, helping young people realise their dreams through her work as Ambassador, and captaining the Cork Camogie team in 2013, this amazing young woman is also training hard for the All Ireland which will take place in Croke Park on the first weekend in March.