Mayo student togs out for the Irish team


AileenGilroyIT Sligo student Aileen Gilroy  is continuing  a proud tradition at the college as a key member of  the U19 Irish soccer team which recently got through the first round of the European Championship Qualifiers in Portugal .

Aileen, a native of Killala in Co Mayo, and a first year on the Bachelor of Business in Recreation & Leisure at IT Sligo, played a key role in the national team’s success

Combining soccer with her studies is nothing new for the 18 year old. In 2010 she made history when she sat one of her Leaving Certificate subjects in UEFA headquarters in Nyon in Switzerland, days before lining out with the Under 17 Irish team against Spain in the European Championships final. The team qualified for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago in the process.

Now the Mayo woman has her sights firmly set on getting through the next round of the European qualifiers with the U19 side.

“We go to Siberia at the end of March and if we win our three games in that round we are through,” she explained. “We are fairly hopeful that we will get to the European Championships in Switzerland in June, and if Ireland comes in the top two in the European finals it’s onto the World Cup”.

Aileen was instrumental in Ireland’s success in the recent qualifiers in Portugal. She scored the only goal of the game in the opening match against the host country, and was the star player, scoring twice in Ireland’s final group match against Hungary. Ireland also beat Israel 5-1.

A recipient of the Sports Scholarship Scheme at IT Sligo, Aileen is well aware of the strong soccer tradition in the college, something that in recent years has attracted many top level players to the Institute. The women’s team won four WSCAI (Women’s Soccer Colleges Association of Ireland) Premier League titles and two Intervarsity Cups between 2004 and 2007, and according to Emma Mullin, the  FAI Football Facilitator at IT Sligo, they are setting their sights on another league win this year.

“The women’s soccer team here was the highest ranking in the country winning the League, four years in a row”, Mullin a former student at IT Sligo pointed out. “There is no doubt that because of that tradition we are attracting some of the best players in the country because they look at the stats and they know how high the standard is here”.

Among the IT Sligo students who have won caps for Ireland are Deirdre Doherty and Roisin McCafferty who study Health Science and Physiology at the college.   Both represented Ireland at U 19 level and both won Sports Scholarships at the college.  Other trail blazers for the IT Sligo women’s team are  Maria Harrington (Certificate in

Business) who captained the Irish U 17 side three years ago,  and former Science student  Orla Devanney  who was on the national U 19 side.  Both students also won IT Sligo Sports Scholarships in soccer.

Aileen Gilroy is one of the star players in line for a scholarship this year.  An all-rounder she plays GAA for her county at senior level.  “It would be a great honour to get one of the scholarships as I have met some of the other applicants and I know how impressive their achievements are”, she said. “I am really enjoying the facilities at the college and as well as the pitch, the astro turf and the track, it’s also great to have such a well-equipped gym if you feel like doing a few weights or playing indoors”.

Aileen has already made her mark on the Institute’s soccer team which recently beat UCD 1-0. Aileen scored the only goal of the game. “We have a great team. Some of the girls are savage and I know that my own standard has improved already playing alongside them,” said Aileen.

The team manger Francis O’Regan and Emma Mullin believe that women’s soccer will continue to thrive at the college.

“We have a lot of young players coming through who are showing great promise,” said Mullin who did a Masters in Sports Management at UCD after completing the Recreation & Leisure programme at IT Sligo.

Image Caption: Aileen Gilroy received a sport scholarship from IT Sligo and plays for the U19 Irish Ladies Soccer team.