By Daragh Small
Aisling Reidy used to be a lifeguard on a couple of Clare’s busiest beaches and today she works in Insurance and Risk.
The Banner midfielder, who is taking a break from inter-county duty for the early stages of the Lidl National League campaign, is working with Deloitte in Limerick.
She studies Business at University of Limerick and for her eight-month placement during third year, she was never likely to stray too far from the numbers game.
“Risk and Insurance is my major and my minor then is Finance,” says Reidy.
“I was going between that and accounting but then I said I would switch it up and go with the Risk and Insurance and see how I got on.
“I like numbers, I have to. My brain is wired for learning. Creative stuff, not really, but learning I can do.”
The 21-year-old St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield midfielder was destined for the sporting route, having such a strong foundation from an early age.
Her parents urged Aisling and her sisters Niamh and Ciara to get involved with swimming and that training and routine gave them an ideal footing. There were sacrifices but the rewards are plain to see.
“I had swam all my life,” said Reidy.
“As soon as we were able to walk, our mother threw us into the swimming classes. I always swam and I swam competitively then for a few years, nothing of a very high standard now, just the galas and all that.
“It definitely taught me so much discipline. You train four or five times a week with a few early mornings. We would have had to be on the deck for 6.15am. So I would have been getting up at 5.30am or 5.40am.
“Getting up before school, you would be tired and then going in and doing a full day of school and you could have training or something in the evening. So it’s definitely helped with organisation and planning.
“Then that led me into the lifeguard thing, which I did for three years. Obviously now I have gone on placement so I haven’t done it in the last year.”
Reidy was a lifeguard at Kilkee and White Strand beaches, not on the same scale as Lahinch, but busy nonetheless.
All the while she was studying at UL and playing football at the highest level, which included the Yoplait O’Connor Cup. This is a competition that holds a special place in her heart.
Last year, Reidy was one of the leading lights in a team full of stars, with UL going all the way to the final and securing a hard-fought win over UCC in the rain-soaked decider.
She scored points in the semi-final and final, with the narrow 0-12 to 0-11 scoreline enough to see off their Cork-based opponents in the end.
“Oh my God, it was just such a weird experience because obviously the college games, they are just a different standard completely,” said Reidy.
“The standard is just unbelievable. It’s winter football as well. You are playing in the wet and wind. The weekend is such a good way of organising it. It’s brilliant. You are playing with your college friends, that’s great, but the weekend really brings everyone together and something to really look forward to.
“You make friendships for a lifetime and the way we won as well, the weather was so bad and we had to hold out. Cork (UCC) really came back at us. I don’t know, I think that kind of brought us a bit closer again.
“You were kind of laughing about different parts of the game afterwards.”
UL stayed overnight in the Bonnington Hotel prior to finals day and then travelled home to Limerick after the win.
The struck up a wonderful bond that weekend, while a few big name players departed the scene subsequently; players like Fiadhna Tangney, Roisin Ambrose, Hannah O’Donoghue, and Lynsey Noone have gone.
But the reigning champions are hoping to return to the Yoplait O’Connor Cup final, and with Erika O’Shea, Erone Fitzpatrick, Ailish Morrissey, and Reidy to call on they have plenty of experience to get them over the line again.
“From what I knew before even joining UL, there always is an expectation that UL are one of the top teams in it,” said Reidy.
“You have to go out and perform. When you see the calibre of players that are there on the UL panel down through the years, there is not an expectation but you know it is a serious gig and you have to put in the effort.
“We are always wanting to get back to the weekend because we enjoyed it so much last year so that is a bit of extra motivation as well to play a little bit better.
“There is definitely a load of good players there again, if I start naming them I will be here all day. I have played with Clare so when you get to play with girls from Cork, Kerry, other senior teams, it is brilliant and it really brings you on as well.
“I can’t remember how many players it is now but we lost a good chunk of last year’s team which is kind of sad because you get on so well with them and next thing they are gone. But we have loads of new players coming in again this year.
“I think that is what is great about college. You are never going to have the same team every year, it is always new girls and different girls coming and going and that’s really enjoyable as well.”
And while the Yoplait O’Connor Cup is only around the corner now, Reidy has the comfort of watching on from the sidelines while Clare battle it out in the Lidl National Football League.
She has decided to take a break for the early stages and will likely return before the summer months.
Clare began 2023 with a big 3-15 to 0-5 victory over Sligo in Curry and Reidy knows the players are in the right hands with Wayne Freeman in as new manager.
“I am just giving myself a bit of a refresher. When you play so much, your head gets a bit wound up. I hopefully will be available in a few weeks,” said Reidy.
“But it’s very exciting. I know from hearing from the girls and from my experience with Wayne, he is more than helpful and seems very, very into it.
“So I think that will come through for the league and for the championship.”
Aisling Reidy was speaking as the Ladies Gaelic Football Association and Yoplait Ireland celebrate a renewed partnership for 2023.Yoplait Ireland, the 'Official Yogurt of the LGFA', will continue to sponsor the Higher Education Committee (HEC) third-level championships in 2023.Tweet