Get­ting closer to ful­fill­ing a dream

For most of her life, Dublin’s goal­keeper has been fo­cused on win­ning an All-Ire­land

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - LADIES FOOTBALL - MARIE CROWE

FOOT­BALL de­fines Ciara Trant and the Dublin goal­keeper is more than okay with that. In fact, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Lin­ing out for Dublin is all she’s ever wanted and she’s made plenty of sac­ri­fices along the way to achieve it.

In­ci­den­tally, she wasn’t al­ways a goal­keeper. For most of her un­der­age ca­reer Trant was on the fringes of the Dublin start­ing team, des­per­ate for a chance to break into the first 15.

Right up to mi­nor level she was an out­field player, mostly full-back or mid­field. In­deed her hero grow­ing up was Denise Master­son who she now teaches with in Fin­glas. She as­pired to play like Master­son but, as it turns out, fate had a dif­fer­ent path for Trant. Ahead of an All-Ire­land mi­nor semi-fi­nal, Dublin’s two goal­keep­ers were on hol­i­days so there was a role that needed fill­ing. Trant was asked would she step in for a chal­lenge match and she jumped at the chance.

“The man­agers asked me would I go in goal and I said ‘yes’ with­out hes­i­ta­tion,” she ex­plains. “I hadn’t been get­ting my game out­field so I was de­lighted to get the op­por­tu­nity to play an ac­tual match, not just stand on the side­line.

“My first com­pet­i­tive match was the All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal and then the All-Ire­land fi­nal. We won both so it was great, but it was scary at first and I was ner­vous. When my name was called out in the dress­ing room I thought, ‘Okay, they won’t ex­pect much,’ so that helped.”

So that was it, Trant was a goal­keeper and she had taken one step closer to re­al­is­ing her dreams of lin­ing out for Dublin in an All-Ire­land fi­nal, but there were still some choices to be made and hur­dles to over­come be­fore she got there.

In 2014, she was all set to go to Amer­ica with her friends on a J1 for the sum­mer. Her aunt had of­fered to put them up when they ar­rived so even though she had a chance to be with the Dublin se­niors, she felt tied to trav­el­ling with her friends.

She went to Cape Cod as sched­uled but Trant had a plan. She waited 11 days un­til her friends found jobs and could move out of her aunt’s house and then she flew straight home. Landing in Dublin on a Tues­day morn­ing, she went to train­ing that same evening. At that time Han­nah Tyrrell was the Dublin se­nior goal­keeper but she had opted to fo­cus on rugby so there was a va­cancy to pro­vide cover.

Cliodhna O’Con­nor had re­turned to the squad to fill the void for the short term and Trant slot­ted in as her deputy when she got back. How­ever, two weeks af­ter re­turn­ing she broke her arm, end­ing her hopes of get­ting into the team that sea­son. But she stayed around the panel learn­ing and do­ing what train­ing she could.

Trant is al­ways look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn and de­velop as an ath­lete. She feels lucky to be where she is and miss­ing out on big events and hol­i­days with friends are not sac­ri­fices be­cause she is ex­actly where she wants to be.

That at­ti­tude goes for every­thing in her life in­clud­ing her 21st birth­day two years ago. Her mother in­sisted on a party, but the oc­ca­sion fell the night be­fore she was due to make her se­nior foot­ball de­but against Mon­aghan. So at 9.30pm she blew out the can­dles and slipped off to bed, leav­ing her friends and fam­ily to cel­e­brate the mile­stone in her ab­sence.

Trant has worked hard to keep her grip on the goal­keeper’s jer­sey but she knows that there are plenty who want to take it from her.

This year, new man­ager Mick Bo­han ro­tated the ‘keep­ers in the squad dur­ing the league, driv­ing Trant to work even harder. So strong is the com­pe­ti­tion in the squad that the St Brigid’s player feels more nerves ahead of an in-house game than she does fac­ing the top teams in the coun­try.

“It’s nice to know your di­rect com­pe­ti­tion, it keeps you on your toes. I had a few bad per­for­mances in the league but Mick gave ev­ery­one equal op­por­tu­ni­ties to prove them­selves. When things didn’t go well I knew that I had an­other go so I wasn’t fo­cus­ing on the past.

“I have good skills and I have a good head on my shoul­ders. When you make a mis­take it can be a goal; when other play­ers like for­wards make a mis­take there are other girls around to have their backs.

“I’m very good at park­ing things and once it’s over it’s gone. I’ve of­ten been asked what was go­ing through my head when this hap­pened or that hap­pened and then I don’t re­mem­ber so I have to

Dublin have lost the last three fi­nals, but they have shown great re­silience

watch it back. I’m pretty strong men­tally.” The new man­ager, Bo­han, is very fo­cused on skill de­vel­op­ment and get­ting the ba­sics right. Trant buys into his philoso­phies in a big way and is en­joy­ing the fresh per­spec­tive.

Dublin have lost the last three All-Ire­land foot­ball fi­nals, but they have shown great re­silience and bounced back year af­ter year. They are a strong and united group who have never lost sight of their goal of win­ning an All-Ire­land, de­spite the set­backs they have en­coun­tered along the way.

“When you have grown up dream­ing about some­thing your whole life, it is hard when it doesn’t come to pass and you get so close to achiev­ing it. Every year we have gone back. We are re­silient, we haven’t given up. We are a core group of girls who have been through a lot to­gether so it is easy to go again. You are in it with your best friends — we are do­ing the same thing to­gether, you move on, even though it hurts.” Just last week, Trant’s mother re­minded her of her for­ma­tive years, when she was most con­tent play­ing in her cot with a ball. To­day she will stand be­tween the posts in Croke Park as Dublin take on Mayo . . . she’s far from the cot now but very close to mak­ing her child­hood dreams come true.

Photo: Steve Humphreys

Ciara Trant: ‘We are a core group of girls who have been through a lot to­gether so it is easy to go again.’

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