A wonderful upbringing immersed in sport

As part of its efforts to highlight the need for a new community centre on the site of the old Macra Hall in Killeigh, the development committee has been putting together profiles of local people. JEAN BRADY is the latest to be featured.

I was born in July 1991, daughter of Mary Boland from Cloneygowan and William Brady from Gorteen. I was the baby of the family with one brother, Kevin, and two sisters, Karen and Lisa, before me.

I was only 7 months old when Daddy passed away and, although I wish I could have had more memories with him, I know he is always watching over me. I had a wonderful upbringing, a lot of which I owe to my amazing mother. She would be well-known in the area for her involvement in clubs and school boards of management, etc. She's an amazing woman who gave us every opportunity growing up. Mammy brought us everywhere - whatever we were interested in we were taken to it. I was extremely lucky to have great role models in my siblings, from belting sliotars at me in the garden, bringing me to the farm, or preparing me for my first disco, I learned so much from them growing up.

Residing in Killurin, I look back on my childhood with the fondest of memories growing up in Killurin and Killeigh; from the days in the soccer pitch to the GAA pitch, the indoor trainings in Macra Hall, attending Killeigh National School and working my first job in Langtons Shop.

My first memories of Killeigh would have to be tagging along with Mammy when she was bringing Kevin, Karen and Lisa to all the different activities in the village, whether it was music, dancing, soccer or GAA. I was introduced to the soccer and GAA pitch at a very young age and loved going to all their matches. I have a real passion for sport and even then I couldn't wait until I was old enough to join all the clubs and play myself.

I took up soccer and Camogie as soon as I was old enough, and was part of great teams that won numerous medals in both sports. I have fond memories in the red and black of Killeigh Schoolboys Soccer Club. Heading to the Pond every Saturday morning even in the depths of winter - those cold winter mornings definitely hardened us up! We won numerous league and cup titles at every age, from U10 up to U17, and were very lucky to have a fantastic coach in the late Paul Jordan.

I also played hurling and football with the boys, heading to training sessions with my good friend, Stephanie Hyland. Even though we were the only two girls, we were made feel so welcome by all the boys and had great trainers in Martin Cahill, Ollie Rigney, Brendan Kennedy and Eugene Hyland. We played our last match with the lads at U14. I think playing with the lads really stood to me and was a big factor in what I went on to achieve in my Camogie career.

St Sinchills Camogie Club was formed in 1997 so, at the age of 6, I first got to wear the black and amber jersey. The school Camogie team was doing so well at the time it was decided there was a need for a club. Dolores Crowe founded the club along with a few other parents at the time, including Mammy. Karen and Lisa were under 12 at the time and in the clubs first year of competition, they won the A County Championship. I myself went on to have lots of success with the club. Two of my proudest moments in a Camogie jersey would have to be winning a Junior title along with Karen and Lisa in 2008 and an U18 A Championship in 2009. I am very proud of our growing club and still believe there is no better feeling than taking to the pitch surrounded by family and lifelong friends.

My days in the black and amber camogie jersey led me on to some massive days in the Green White and Gold jersey. I grew up following Karen and Lisa around the country to all their Offaly matches and I first started playing with Offaly at Under-14. Again, I was blessed with brilliant underage coaches and won Leinster titles along with a Minor B All Ireland in 2008. I first lined out for the adult team when I was about 15 years old and donned the jersey for 13 years after that. Winning a Junior and Intermediate All Ireland in Croke Park in 2009 and 2010, along with Karen, was the stuff of dreams. Being so young and still in school at the time, I probably didn’t fully appreciate it.

I represented Offaly at Senior level for many more years, captaining the side in 2015, and received a senior All-Star nomination in 2015 and 2016. The well-wishes from everyone during those years was amazing. I am so thankful to everyone in the community for their encouragement and support growing up.

I absolutely loved my school going days. I attended Killeigh NS and enjoyed every minute of it. After that, I followed my sister’s footsteps and attended the Sacred Heart Secondary School in Tullamore. I gained a great education in both schools and of course the added plus was that both schools were very sporty.

After school, I went on to study Exercise and Health Studies for four years in Waterford IT. In Year 3 of my course, I completed my work experience with Offaly Sports Partnership. I loved my work experience and, on completion of my course, I landed a job with Offaly Sports Partnership as a sports tutor which involved delivering physical activity programmes in schools. In 2018, I got a permanent job as Sports Inclusion Development Officer with Offaly Sports Partnership. I couldn’t be happier in my current role, which is based in the Offaly County Council offices in Tullamore. The job involves increasing participation for people with a disability and people from other low-participation groups in sport, physical activity and active recreation. I work with children in units in schools to older adults in the community to people attending disability services. I love being able to encourage and provide physical activity opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.

I have very fond memories of the Macra Hall. In the winter, we used to have indoor soccer and Camogie training in the hall. It was great fun and we were so lucky to have somewhere warm and dry to practice our skills over the winter. It’s such a pity that there is nowhere big enough in Killeigh for such activities at the moment. Hopefully the new community centre will change that. Through my job as Sports Inclusion Development Officer I see first-hand the benefits a community hall can bring. I wish the committee the best of luck and would encourage everyone to support the funding of the new centre in any way they can.

* Killeigh Community Centre Development Association needs your support! If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a fantastic new three-bedroom house in Enfield valued at €355,000 and support our fundraising efforts, please visit www.winahouseinenfield.com