ANYBODY who remembers Tom Sullivan as a classy forward for Carbury and Kildare, or even on the League of Ireland soccer pitches for the likes of Dundalk and Drogheda or in the KDFL for Carbury and Coill Dubh, would not have been surprised to see the accuracy of his daughter Orlaith’s shooting in Limerick last Saturday afternoon.
Aged just 17, Sullivan proved her class with seven points as she continues to seamlessly adapt to senior football in her first year at that grade. After the game, she said it was endless hours spent kicking points with her father during her childhood that helped hone her skills.
“My dad was the first coach I ever had. He used to bring me down to the pitch and stand behind the goal and tell me to kick it to him. That’s where I got a lot of my shooting practice when I was younger, with my dad. I was looking up to him when he was playing for Carbury and Kildare, he was a serious role model to have,” said Sullivan.
“I think he’d be more focussing on the wides I kicked instead of the points though,” she added with a laugh.
Sullivan has made the jump from last year’s under 16s to senior football this year look easy and along with Aoife Rattigan has featured for the team right throughout the league and now championship but she said it is her experienced team mates that have helped her settle in so well.
“The older girls have been seriously, seriously welcoming. They are so encouraging in training and in matches. They want you to push on and I don’t think it’s like in any other county, where the older girls are dying for the younger players to get a game, they are dying for the younger players to improve. There’s a really good atmosphere in the camp at the moment.
“I worked hard and it was down to the girls around me really, pushing me on and helping me get up to the level they were at. It wasn’t easy by any means and it’s down to everybody who has pushed me on, like the lads, Dan, Nick, Steve, Ronan, they are all pushing us on in every training session. It’s not just an individual effort, it’s down to everyone on the team and on the panel,” said Sullivan.
Saturday’s win over last year’s All-Ireland Junior champions was the perfect way for Kildare to kickstart their All-Ireland series.
“I think it says a lot about our courage and our bravery because we went five points down but kicked 2-10 then in the first half. That really shows how we as a unit are able to come back from a very bad start. We really showed today that we are going to compete in this All-Ireland series,” said Sullivan, who is now targeting Sligo in Kildare’s second group game on Sunday. The two teams met in the final round of Division 3 earlier in the year with Sligo getting the win that booked their place in the semi-finals, and edged Kildare out of contention in the process.
“We definitely owe them one from the league. We didn’t perform against them to our full capacity so we’ll be raring to go this week. We’ll get get prepared for Sligo and I think we’ll give them a serious rattle,” she said.
Manager Daniel Moynihan has named the same starting 15 for Sunday’s game so Kildare will line out as follows:
Dervla McGinn (Maynooth); Rachel Cribbin (Balyna), Lara Gilbert (Kildangan Nurney), Shauna Kendrick (Sarsfields), Claire Sullivan (Carbury), Sarah Munnelly (Confey), Trina Duggan (Suncroft); Siobhan O’Sullivan (Eadestown), Grace Clifford (Eadestown); Lara Curran (Milltown), Nessa Dooley (Castledermot), Aoife Rattigan (Cappagh), Ellen Dowling (Suncroft), Orlaith Sullivan (Carbury), Mikaela McKenna (Na Fianna).