8 April 2023

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LGFA: ‘Sporting family’ – The Big Interview with Galway’s Kate Slevin

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LGFA: ‘Sporting family’ – The Big Interview with Galway’s Kate Slevin

By DAIRE WALSH 

Ever since she can remember, Kate Slevin has always had a strong passion for playing multiple sports.

Currently, in her third year on the Galway Senior Ladies Football panel, Slevin grabbed headlines when she posted 1-7 for the Tribeswomen in their All-Ireland U16 ‘A’ final victory against Kerry in 2018. Having parents from Kilkenny ensured she also tried her hand at camogie, but another sporting code proved to be an even bigger lure for Slevin.  

After shining brightly in the underage ranks of local soccer outfit Cregmore Claregalway FC, she subsequently joined Galway WFC in 2018 before eventually transferring to Athlone Town last July. There has also been international recognition along the way with Slevin playing up to (and including) U19 level for the Republic of Ireland.  

This very much runs in the family, as her twin sister Emma was the first Irish female gymnast to qualify for a senior all-round final at the European and World Championships, accomplishing both feats in 2021.  

While moving into the elite phase of Gaelic Football and soccer has inevitably led to her taking on a more controlled schedule – she credits her respective coaches in this regard – Kate was always on the go as a youngster.  

“Since I can remember, I’ve always played both of them. Every week, you’d have two games in a day nearly. I just got great enjoyment out of it, playing both of them. It was good craic really,” Slevin recalled.  

“When you’re younger, you don’t even think about burnout. You don’t even think about injuries. You play every day and you don’t second guess it. Now that the intensity is higher and the level that you’re playing at is a higher level, you do have to think about it. It’s just communicating with your coaches and all that. If you’re not feeling 100%, you just let them know.”  

Whereas Slevin started all seven of Galway’s games in the group stages of the Lidl National League, she has made just four appearances thus far in 2023 for Athlone, with their Women’s Premier Division campaign still very much in its infancy.  

Although things will become more hectic in the coming weeks, Galway joint managers Mághnus Breathnach and Fiona Wynne will be able to call upon Slevin’s services later this summer.  

Due to the historic participation of the Republic of Ireland women’s national team at the World Cup finals in Australia and New Zealand, there isn’t expected to be any domestic league fixtures from June 11 to August 18 inclusive. Given the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship is set to get underway on the weekend of June 17/18 and will culminate in the finals day at Croke Park on August 13, the 19-year-old University of Galway commerce student will be free to offer her full commitment to the inter-county cause.  

“It actually worked out really well, if you look at the fixtures. I think the championship runs through exactly when the World Cup is going on, so we won’t have that much going on in the soccer while the championship is going ahead,” Slevin said.  

In her short time as an Athlone Town player, Slevin has featured on the biggest day of the women’s soccer calendar. In front of a record crowd of 5,073 for a game of its magnitude at the Tallaght Stadium last November, she was introduced by her manager Tommy Hewitt as a 60th minute substitute in the Westmeath club’s FAI Cup final reversal to Shelbourne.  

Despite how the result went, Slevin was glad to be a part of Athlone’s first showpiece appearance in the competition.  

“That day was insane, to be honest. We knew there would be a good crowd there, but you could barely hear yourself on the pitch. There was huge support for both sides. I know we lost, but I thought it was a good day for the club.”  

She will be hoping it won’t be her only outing at the ground this year, but Slevin has a big day out at the mecca of Gaelic games next weekend. Croke Park will be the venue for the Lidl NFL Division 1 decider against Kerry on Saturday, April 15 (throw-in 5pm) and while a number of her team-mates have played at GAA HQ before, it will be a first for the Claregalway attacker.  

Following a 14-year gap, the westerners had two games at Croker within the space of three weeks in 2019 – an All-Ireland senior semi-final win against Mayo and a subsequent showpiece defeat to Dublin. Watching these games whetted Slevin’s appetite and she is thrilled to now be in a position to showcase her talents in the biggest stadium in the country.  

“I remember watching the semi-final (in 2019), but I was away when they were playing the final. I’m playing with most of the girls that played that day now. You were just looking on, wishing that you could play. I’m looking forward to playing there the next day.”  

Slevin has certainly been in fine scoring form for Galway this season with an impressive personal tally of 0-26, including eight points in a 3-11 to 0-17 defeat at the hands of Kerry on March 26 in Tuam.  

Maroon and white supporters will be looking for her to deliver another strong performance in seven days’ time as the Connacht side look to claim their maiden Division 1 crown to make up for six previous final losses. Additionally, it is all of 19 years since Galway won their solitary TG4 All-Ireland senior championship title to date and Slevin believes the time is right for them to secure national silverware once again.  

“The group of players we have, we feel like it’s time we won something big. We just kind of think ‘Why not this year?’ What are we waiting for? Hopefully, we can get a bit of silverware into the group this year,” Slevin added.  

2 August 2021; Kate Slevin of Galway takes a free during the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Quarter-Final match between Mayo and Galway at Elverys MacHale Park in Castlebar, Co Mayo. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfil

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