The only girl in a house full of boys, perhaps Kate was always going to be sporty. Her brothers Shaun (21), Mike (19) and Brendan (12) are all into sports and are rightly proud of their sister who was called up to training camp with the squad for the first time last November.

“It was a bit scary. It was great but I had mixed emotions about it. I was thinking what did I have to do to prepare for it and I didn’t know what to expect. I knew nobody and I had to talk to girls from all over the country – I’m really friendly with them now,” she says.

Kate who describes herself as shy by nature believes her experiences in sport have led to her becoming more sociable. “In all the teams I’ve been in I’ve made friends. When you go into each group, you make different friends. Even when I’m in school it’s easier to make friends,” says Kate, who plays soccer for her school team at Moville Community College and her club, Greencastle FC.

“I would have been shy and slow to put myself out there. With sport when you’re in a team you have to talk in front of the whole group and that builds your confidence. You have to talk about how you have played and what you would improve on. It brings you out of your shell,” she says.

“I like the company of other people and being competitive. If you lose a game you tell one another to keep going. I think I just grew up with sport – I had brothers and I played with them all the time,” says Kate.

Just short of her 16th birthday, Kate has seen other girls her age leave sport. “Some would have dropped out. If they’re not committed they become interested in other things,” she says.

For Kate, playing sport has been a way of clearing her head, something she found helpful in her first big exam year. “At the same time you get really fit and the craic is 90,” she says.

“I like being part of a team because I like working with other people and learning from them. When you’re playing with other people and watching them you can see what they are doing and you can improve yourself. You learn to share the work and you know how to take part”.

Kate says she would tell teenagers to stick with their sports if they are at that stage when they feel like dropping out. “Stick with it and you will benefit in so many ways. That feeling when you win a trophy is the most amazing thing. You will get to know so many people from playing with them and against them. It makes everything in life easier,” says Kate.

Her mum, Joanna, says Kate is always on the go and has yet to hear her daughter utter the words “I’m bored”.

“There’s not enough hours in the day for her – she’s constantly on the go. We would have always encouraged her because she’s got a flair for sport. But she wanted to try out everything – sometimes we have to hold her back because wants to do everything,” says Joanna.

“I think Kate is very conscious of her responsibility to her team. She’s very conscious of trying her best for the team. She can be very critical of herself and constantly asks whether she should have passed the ball earlier. I think she’s conscious of letting people down,” she says.

“Even if she never goes any further with the international scene it wouldn’t bother me. She has a sense in her now of how to keep herself fit and she would do a lot of work herself. That’s expected of them – they have a strength and conditioning programme to do to keep fit. Already Kate is talking about coaching a team when she’s older. She’s looking at sport long-term.

She doesn’t know what she wants to do yet but sport will always be a big part of her life,” says Joanna.

This article appeared on Independent.ie