Ireland’s Siobhán Killeen juggling studies and soccer

Raheny United winger has a blossoming career on the pitch and in the hospital

Siobhán Killeen juggles her playing commitments with Raheny United and Ireland with a Radiography degree. Photograph: Inpho

Siobhán Killeen juggles her playing commitments with Raheny United and Ireland with a Radiography degree. Photograph: Inpho

 

It might seem strange to shade from the searing sun on a Spanish beach behind a radiography textbook, but Siobhán Killeen doesn’t mind being different.

Waiting to meet her on the UCD campus, the Dubliner was impossible to pick out from the never-ending stream of students filing from one faculty building to the next.

On the pitch, the Raheny United winger stands out with her flowing blonde hair, electric acceleration, and knack of leaving opposition defenders with twisted blood. But on an average weekday, she’s just another student dressed in a casual shirt and ripped jeans.

Ireland international

World Cup

Yet the most impressive thing is how she juggles that soaring playing career with the demand of studying for her third-year exams in radiography – especially when it was piled on top of working in the Mater hospital.

“I was on placement for 12 weeks during the Champions League with Raheny and that was tough because I’m a full-time student and every hour is marked and I couldn’t get time off for the matches without having to make it up,” explained Killeen.

“So I was in work on the morning of our Champions League game with Bristol at home. I was up at six, out the door to the Mater, done placement until half 12, and then I met up with the girls. So it is harder to get a good balance when you are a student.

“But I suppose it’s the choice I made, so I have to find the balance somehow. The college are very good, they will make a lot of exceptions. And, as well, when we’re away (with Ireland) it’s very good because we’ll get a few hours to study, so I can keep on top of things.

“Sometimes it’s nice to study on a beach in Spain instead of studying in a library here in UCD. But it’s just about getting the balance and about planning beforehand.”

Catching Killeen with a moment to spare is as rare as spotting a black robin, but on those scarce occasions she is just a normal young woman, hanging out with friends or guiltily tucking into a bar of chocolate.

Summer holiday

The dominant force of women’s domestic football of the previous three years, Raheny last month lost their league title to Wexford Youths and that has stung more a little for a team that has won trophies almost as easily as exhaling.

“Even though this is our least successful season in the last couple of years, we can still end it by winning a cup double. But it did hurt when we lost the league,” said Killeen.

“We’ve gotten over that, but I know that when we see the Wexford girls preparing for the Champions League that’s going to be tough. But it gives us something to aim for next year because we’re not the best team any more.

“I think our biggest problem was being so used to success. We didn’t know what it was to lose games or to struggle. Probably, this is the best thing that could have happened to us because we now need to prove ourselves again.”

Whether it is on the pitch or in the classroom, Killeen is comfortable under that kind of pressure. It’s why she is just a little bit different.

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