30 December 2023

~6 minutes read

LADIES FOOTBALL: ‘Family affair’ – The Big Interview with Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s Siobhan Divilly

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LADIES FOOTBALL: ‘Family affair’ – The Big Interview with Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s Siobhan Divilly

By DAIRE WALSH 

At the heart of Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s march to a third consecutive currentaccount.ie All-Ireland senior club championship title against Ballymacarbry at Croke Park earlier this month were three families that helped to make up a large chunk of their playing and managerial personnel. 

The daughters of team boss Willie Ward, twin sisters Nicola and Louise Ward played pivotal roles at centre half-back and centre half-forward respectively in a convincing 0-18 to 1-9 win over the Waterford and Munster champions on December 16. Of the final tally accumulated by the Tribeswomen on the day, 0-10 came from the combined boots of Eva and Lynsey Noone, whose father Gerry serves as a mentor for Kilkerrin-Clonberne.

A third Noone  Hannah  was selected at midfield alongside Siobhan Divilly, who shared a special moment on the pitch with three members of her own family in the aftermath of their latest All-Ireland success.

In addition to her father Michael being another of the team’s selectors, Divilly was joined on the starting line-up by her sisters Olivia and Niamh. This year’s victory was particularly special for the latter, who appeared off the bench in previous All-Ireland triumphs against Mourneabbey and Donaghmoyne before being elevated to the full forward-line for their 2023 campaign.

“It was nice to have her out there beside us. She came on in both finals in the years previous. It was nice for her to get the start,” Siobhan said of her teenage sister.

“I think a lot of the girls that come on as an impact, they would be starting in many other club teams in the country. The fact that they stick at it and get their chance is amazing. I think we consistently, every year, have one or two new girls joining the panel, which is really important.

“It’s really important that we continue to get the girls through, so that they can slot nicely in when other girls step away.”

Since her very early days as a club footballer, Divilly’s father and the aforementioned Willie Ward have been near constants on the sideline for Kilkerrin-Clonberne. Having previously served as manager of the senior team, Michael briefly stepped back into this position when Ward was unable to attend their tense All-Ireland semi-final success at the expense of Kilmacud Crokes at Parnell Park on December 3.

The two coaching compatriots were in regular communication over the course of this game  which Kilkerrin-Clonberne ultimately edged after extra-time  though things were made a lot smoother when Ward was back in the saddle for their All-Ireland final date with Ballymacarbry.

“Dad has been there right the way. Himself and Willie started training us when I was eight on the U10 team. They continued on, right up through with U12s, U14s, U16s and then the senior team. They stepped away for a few years, which was good to have change and for them to have a break, but it’s really nice on those special days to have him there as well.

“Willie was sick that day against Kilmacud, we found out in the morning that he couldn’t travel. Dad wasn’t meant to be on the sideline that day. They rotate who takes up the sideline position and he wasn’t meant to be, so it was probably a little bit of a shock to him to slot in. They all work so closely together and Willie was right there on the phone beside him.

“Any big calls that had to be made, they were making it as a team. It wasn’t just down to one person. It was good that Dad could just slot in there, but also I think we all missed Willie and some of his wise words in those crucial moments during that game.”

Whereas her sister Olivia works in the same profession within their native county, Divilly has spent the past three years as an occupational therapist in Dublin. Having first operated in the community, she subsequently moved to the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital for a brief spell and has been with the Temple Street Children’s University Hospital since December 2021.

After initially travelling back and forth from Dublin to Galway on a regular basis, the last two years has seen her training once a week with Kilmacud Crokes in the capital  albeit she stopped attending their sessions a few months ago when the chances of Kilkerrin-Clonberne facing the Stillorgan women in the All-Ireland club series started to increase.

Because she is also a key member of the Galway senior panel  along with several of her Kilkerrin-Clonberne team-mates  Divilly felt remaining in Dublin during the week was a necessary step to make.

While she hopes to continue balancing her club and inter-county duties with a busy working life, the 25-year-old admitted she will have to see if it will be feasible to line out in the maroon and white of Galway in 2024.

“For myself, I have to see if I can maybe commit another year to going up and down for both Galway and club, but it’s definitely something that I’d love to do. It’s just maybe taking some time to give the body a break and think whether you can go again for that length.”

There will be a familiar face to Divilly in the hot seat for Galway next year, however, with her former inter-county minor boss Daniel Moynihan having taken over from the joint-management team of Maghnus Breathnach and Fiona Wynne in October. Moynihan was at the helm when a Galway side that included Divilly lost a minor decider to Cork in 2015, but the Ballinasloe man had her sister Niamh at his disposal when the Connacht outfit secured the ZuCar All-Ireland U18 ‘A’ Championship crown against Kildare earlier this year.

“Daniel was manager both years I was minor. It’s great that he’s in with the senior team now. He’s had so much success at minor. It’s really good to have his experience coming into the senior set-up,” Divilly said of Moynihan.

“I think that experience of winning is maybe what we need in Galway and it’s really, really good to have him there. It will be great to see how the league goes and how we can maybe push on from the last few years. Try and get steps further in the championship.”

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