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'If I was in Australia when the girls won, no money in the world would have made me happy'

Olivia Divilly remains on the AFLW radar, but she’s fully committed to Galway and Kilkerrin-Clonberne for 2022.

Olivia Divilly of Galway was speaking at the TG4 ladies football championship launch.
Olivia Divilly of Galway was speaking at the TG4 ladies football championship launch.
Image: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

INTER-COUNTY DUTY may be the priority at certain points of the year, but club forever holds a special place in the heart.

The dust has long settled on January’s monumental All-Ireland club final win. The memories, though, will last a lifetime.

Olivia Divilly’s full focus is on Galway at the minute, but she can’t help but smile when she’s asked about Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s maiden All-Ireland success earlier this year. The long-time Galway and Connacht champions finally got over the line, ending Mourneabbey’s bid for three-in-a-row and avenging the heartache of their 2019 defeat.

It was a simply stunning performance from Divilly and co.; the star forward’s 0-5 tally key en route to glory alongside her sisters, Siobhan and Niamh.

“Every time I think back on it, I can’t stop smiling,” the 26-year-old beams. “It was just amazing. We had such great celebrations for the month or two afterwards. And still, occasionally, we have a get together. We had a social there in April, getting presented the medals.

“There was such excitement, but also such relief to finally get over the line. When I think back to the final whistle, you could hear the fans singing The Fields of Athenry in the stand, you could just see your Mom and your Dad and all your best friends. It was just amazing, and probably something that we’ll never experience again to that extent. It was just unbelievable.”

“We’re such a close bunch,” she adds. “Every team says that, but we’re literally sisters. We get on so well, we go on holidays together outside of football and they’re probably going to be the girls that are gonna be bridesmaids at our weddings and Godparents to our children in years to come.

“We’re just such a tight group from one to 32 and the support from the parish and everyone else… there was nothing we asked for that we didn’t get. It was just unbelievable, just amazing.”

olivia-divilly Divilly on the ball in the All-Ireland club final. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Over the past few seasons, Divilly has established herself as one of the finest attackers on the national stage. The rangy, athletic half forward – though just as comfortable in midfield – is unstoppable on her day, as she’s shown many a time both here and further afield.

In October 2019, she took an Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] Combine in Melbourne by storm, recording some really impressive results.

She turned heads there and then, garnering significant interest.

“It was a really positive experience,” Divilly recalls. “I think at the time, I just wasn’t ready to go. I was very young, and also the prospect of having to miss club at home and go home and tell your sisters and your best friends that you’re going upping and leaving in the middle of championship was never going to go down too well.

“I didn’t go, and I’ve loved every moment I’ve had here in Ireland with the girls, playing with Galway and with Kilkerrin-Clonberne. Maybe some day, I’d never say never, but at the moment, for this season, I’m definitely with Galway and I’m going to be with Kilkerrin-Clonberne for championship.”

That said, she remains firmly on the radar in Australia.

“You would be in contact with clubs, and every year the opportunity comes up,” she explains. “I suppose it comes to, ‘Are you available to go at a certain time?’ More often than not the answer has been no, because once I’ve committed to a team at the time I wouldn’t be in a position to go.

“Maybe some day, if the right offer comes around at the right time. It’s something that that will definitely be a great opportunity but at the moment I’d say for the next year or so, I’ll be in Galway.”

div At the 2019 AFLW Draft Combine in Melbourne. Source: PA Images.

“Couldn’t miss out,” she adds with a smile.

“If I was in Australia when the girls won the club All-Ireland, I don’t think any money in the world would have made me happy. I would have been so jealous — I’d have been obviously so happy for them, but I was delighted I was part of it.” 

Content with home comforts, Divilly is working as an occupational therapist in University Hospital Galway and living with friends in the city. She’s enjoying the Irish success Down Under from afar, more than happy with her own situation.

Having graduated college in 2018, now working in orthopedics after a stint in stroke, her love for the job and appreciation of the support of her colleagues shines through with every word she utters.

Likewise with football.

It was a shaky start to the year for Galway; the Tribe forced to open the season without an official manager after Gerry Fahey’s departure less than three weeks out from the start of the league.

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Divilly and her Kilkerrin-Clonberne crew weren’t involved at the time, resetting after a hectic club campaign and missing part of the Division 1 league, but everything has gone reasonably well for the county since.

“I suppose at the time we were very much focused on the club, so we wouldn’t have been getting any of the details really and we were trying to keep our distance. But once we came back, things had picked up and we were coming back into a great set-up and the girls were putting in great performances throughout the league.

“Fiona [Wynne] and Maghnus [Breathnach] have have stepped up and they’ve been at the lead for the last few months. Things are going really, really well. Everything’s very positive in the camp, and we’re very optimistic and very excited for the championship coming.”

olivia-divilly Facing Cork in 2019. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

They go in on a high after an “important” Connacht final victory over rivals Mayo last month.

The marker is set, and Galway now find themselves in an All-Ireland series group with Westmeath and Kerry. They opening their campaign against the Kingdom in Birr this evening [throw-in 7.15pm, live on TG4].

“There’s definitely no easy group,” Divilly concludes. “It feels like a totally open championship. Any game could go either way. I’d say we’re in for some shocks this year.  It will be a great championship, I reckon.

“Looking at Meath last year coming up from intermediate and obviously putting in such good performances consistently throughout the year and winning the All-Ireland at the end, I think that’s given such hope to everyone and every team knows that it’s definitely possible. If you keep building on the performances and get a little bit of consistency going, I think it could be anyone’s year.

“Everyone was was so happy for Meath, and now this year, they’re just another competitor really. It’s totally open and when you look at any of those groups, it’s impossible to tell who’s going to top any group, who’s going to come second.

“I think it will be a great summer.”

BTL 5

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Emma Duffy

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