Still on the ball

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - The Shape I’m In - Irene Feighan

IT pays to have a thick skin in team sports, all the more so when you’re the son of Ir­ish im­mi­grants play­ing pro­fes­sional foot­ball in Eng­land. Though born and reared in Pre­ston, Lan­cashire, grow­ing up Kevin Kil­bane was fre­quently re­minded of his her­itage — his fa­ther is from Co Mayo and a mother from Co Long­ford — and he learned early on not to let the jibes up­set him. “I would be called a plastic paddy many the time. You laugh it off,” says the 41year-old who has had 110 caps for Ire­land.

“When I left school at 16 I would have been the sort of lad who would have re­acted or may have been quite sen­si­tive to things like that. You’ve got to learn quickly that any sort of crit­i­cism you would get you’ve got to take it on the chin. In gen­eral, I think it’s held me in good stead I wouldn’t be too con­cerned about things that would be thrown at me now.”

He is now based in Dublin, work­ing as a sports jour­nal­ist. He also has a place in Manch­ester where his chil­dren live.

Elsie is aged 14 and has Down syn­drome and Isla is two years younger. “They are un­be­liev­able. They are very, very good to­gether,” he says.

In the long term, he plans to spend more time in Ire­land. “I love Dublin. I think over the next few years I’ll prob­a­bly be even more per­ma­nent here once my daugh­ters get to an age where they are prob­a­bly a lit­tle less re­liant on me — if they are ever less re­liant on you.” What shape are you in? I run 10k two or three times a week. I’m in rel­a­tively de­cent shape. I’ll try and step it up when I’m go­ing to­wards the half marathon in Au­gust. Three or four years ago, I was run­ning sub-130 half marathons, to be fair I’m prob­a­bly not in that sort of shape now.

When I was play­ing foot­ball I was in the gym ev­ery sin­gle day with­out fail. Since I’ve fin­ished, I just like to get out and have a run. There have been spells when I have done a bit of gym work — my back is some­thing that I’ve got con­cerns about and I do some strength­en­ing ex­er­cises. What are your health­i­est eat­ing habits? I find it quite dif­fi­cult to have a healthy life­style from a diet point of view. I live on my own and you end up think­ing — it’s eas­ier to go out and get a take­away or what­ever. When I have my daugh­ters with me, it en­cour­ages me to cook for them. I al­ways try to have greens — veg or salad. I en­joy cook­ing but I don’t nec­es­sar­ily like cook­ing when it’s just for my­self. What are your guilti­est plea­sures? I’ve got a re­ally sweet tooth. I wouldn’t be ad­verse to a nice Cad­bury’s Mint Crisp or a sponge pud­ding and cus­tard. My granny was al­ways one to cook rhubarb crum­bles and pies. What would keep you awake at night? I’ve got quite a busy sched­ule work wise. I nor­mally wouldn’t be fin­ished un­til 10.30 at night. By the time I’ve wound down and by the time I’m re­laxed, it’s the early hours of the morn­ing be­fore I get some sleep. How do you re­lax? Run­ning for the men­tal side of it — to clear the head and to get your­self sorted. When I’m out run­ning, I like to lis­ten to pod­casts. I en­joy music and read­ing bi­ogra­phies. Cen­taur, about re­tired jockey De­clan Mur­phy who had a se­ri­ous head in­jury due to a rid­ing fall, is one of my favourite books over

the last year. Who would you in­vite to your dream din­ner party? Noel Gal­lagher; Pele, one of the great­est foot­ballers ever; Mary McAleese, some­one who has achieved so much in her life­time. I think that would be a great com­bi­na­tion. What’s your favourite smell? Home cook­ing — bread. What would you like to change about your ap­pear­ance? I’m not the sort of fel­low who gets hung up on how he looks. I’ve al­ways been quite com­fort­able with who I am. When is the last time you cried? I’d be seen reg­u­larly cry­ing at a film or a TV se­ries. I’m a bit of a softie since my first daugh­ter was born. What traits do you least like in oth­ers? Rude­ness. What traits do you least like about your­self? Tar­di­ness — with­out a doubt. Do you pray? I’d pray for my daugh­ters’ well-be­ing and gen­eral hap­pi­ness. What would cheer up your day? I’m quite happy go lucky in gen­eral.

What would make it even bet­ter, is if my flight is on time and ev­ery­thing runs smoothly from a trav­el­ing side of things. This week, I’m on six flights, in gen­eral, it would be at least two.

They are mostly be­tween Dublin and Manch­ester.

“I’m quite happy go lucky in gen­eral”

Kevin Kil­bane is an am­bas­sador for the Af­fidea Rock­nRoll Half Marathon. See www.run­rock­n­roll.com/dublin for de­tails. FOOTIE FIT: For­mer Repub­lic of Ire­land soc­cer player Kevin Kil­bane is an am­bas­sador for the Af­fidea Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon.

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