Writes Ciaran Dineen
With the Women’s World Cup having just finished after being a monumental success, the integrity and respect for female sport has arguably never been higher.
Away from the bright lights and 50,000 seater stadiums along the French coastline is Ballinhassig AFC, where Christina Dring had just finished a day of summer coaching, before we met up to discuss her life in sport to date.
The 19 year-old Currabinny resident has always had a keen interest in sport, noting that when she was younger, herself and her older brother Simon would compete against one another in the garden, with the latter not taking any prisoners, utilizing his size and strength against his younger sister.
In the long-run this has probably benefited Christina, who has an equal passion for hockey as she does for soccer. The striker has had a very good personal season for the Cork City women’s side, and while the results overall don’t reflect well in the league table, Christina has proven to be one of the top performers for the team this year.
Starting out with Carrigaline United when she was about eight years old and originally being one of the only girls at training, Christina lost interest in soccer for a while before a classmate of hers, Ali Byrne, mentioned that there were girl teams in the club.
From that moment on she has never looked back, joining the U12 side, while also playing in her spare time at St. Mary’s National School. “I remember starting out as a right-back”, Christina explains. “There was one game and I think I begged the coach if I could play in midfield because I wanted to be closer to the goal and after that I played every game for the rest of the season in midfield, so I think I must have done alright”, she says smiling.
After moving to the wing soon after, Christina also found herself playing up front. She was called up to the Cork U18 Development Squad, having previously had a trial and not being successful, but when she got her chance the UCC Engineering student did not disappoint.
Due to the absence of their regular striker, Christina started the final game of an inter-county tournament, where she scored a hat-trick and received the Player of The Match award. With Cork City scouts looking on from the sideline, the former Ashton student had made her impression and was duly asked to go and train with the senior squad in the summer of 2017.
Just a few months later Christina found herself playing in the Aviva Stadium in the Women’s FAI CUP final, which took place prior to the men’s team facing off against Dundalk. “It was crazy”, she says when asked to describe her emotions at playing at the national stadium. “I think I noticed how big it was before the match when I was walking out onto the pitch and standing in the centre circle and just looking around thinking, ‘Wow!’. I was disappointed not to start the game but it was an incredible experience to come on and play 30 minutes, especially later in the game as more City supporters were coming in for the men’s final”.
Christina had been playing on the left-wing for City, but this year due to a lack of striking-options, she has played much of the year at the apex of the forward line. While City aren’t having a particularly successful season to date, Christina has been in some great form, scoring 6 goals in 12 appearances.
The sporting activities don’t end there however, as Christina’s hockey passion is treated equally as seriously. After taking the sport up in primary school she went on to play at Ashton, who have a long and well-known tradition of hockey success down the years. The 19 year-old now plays with UCC and admits that she regularly gets asked which one is ‘really’ her favourite.
“It’s something I get asked quite a lot actually”, Christina says laughing. “I honestly do not have a favourite because I could never see myself not playing one or the other. When I play hockey I love hockey and when I play soccer I love soccer, so I feel no reason to need to choose one in particular.”
The Liverpool supporter is just as talented in both sports, as she was picked to represent Munster at U16 and U18 age groups, while she also plays for UCC’s number one team. It also keeps her fit during the off-season from Cork City, which ends in November, while the hockey year commences at the start of September when the academic calendar recommences.
Being a high-performance athlete, Christina was delighted to see the incredible coverage of the Women’s World Cup, which saw the USA triumph over the Netherlands in the final.
“It was really great to see that all the matches were either covered by RTE or TG4. The standard in the competition was really high, especially when it went further on and I would love to see that level of professionalism come into the Irish league. Another thing I get asked all the time is do we get paid? I say of course not and people are surprised because they expect that we do, but it would be great that if I’m still playing in 10 years that we could see those improvements.”
For now Christina is enjoying her summer off following her first year in college, but soon she’ll be juggling the two sports again, not that she’s complaining! Good luck Christina!
Make sure to grab a copy of our annual Discover Carrigaline in this week’s paper where we have some excellent local news and profiles.
Read the remainder of the edition here: http://subscriber.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/subscribe.aspx?eid=c946bff2-f434-4a7b-a75d-621998d7e750