Kathlyn Timmons put the boot down — in every sense. The nine-year-old daughter of Laois full-back Mark Timmons was supposed to be an absent figure from O’Moore Park on Saturday night.
The “football crazy” youngster had been present at all seven of the county’s Division 2 league games this spring, but the small matter of her First Holy Communion on Saturday was to take priority over daddy’s 2016 championship opener against Wicklow.
With 11am mass at Askea having gone off without a hitch, and a heavily populated bouncy castle still standing upright in the Timmons’ back garden, Mark departed their Graiguecullen home at 5pm to make the 35-minute journey into Portlaoise for the 7pm throw-in.
Even as he pulled out of the driveway, it was still his intention that Kathlyn would remain at home and enjoy the remainder of her big day.
“The original plan was that she wouldn’t travel to the game. It was her communion, her day and we didn’t want to ruin it. We didn’t want her party to be over at 5pm because of my match,” explains Mark.
Kathlyn, though, was mad keen to bring the party to O’Moore Park.
“All week she was nagging me about wanting to go to the game. She had been to all the league games and wasn’t one bit impressed at the thought of missing our first championship game. ‘This is the most important game this year, I want to go to this one’ was her argument. I was trying to explain to her it was her party and that if she left, everyone else is going to leave and then the party will be over.
“She was still giving out about it the morning of the game when we were getting her ready for the church. I told her to talk to her mother, Nicola, as she’d be the one that would have to bring her.” And when a handful of family members departed the Timmons household to follow Mark into Portlaoise, Kathlyn again argued her case. Mammy relented on this occasion and the pair hit off down the road. Not before a quick change of shoes, mind you.
“She was adamant she would wear her communion dress in, but there wasn’t a chance she was wearing her new white shoes and risking getting them dirty,” continues Mark, “so, instead, she threw on her GAA boots. I’d say she turned a few heads on the way in.” Mark picked her out of the crowd as he readied himself for the second half and wasn’t one bit surprised to see her belting towards him seconds after the final whistle.
“In every game I play, be it club or county, she is first out to me. My wife knew it would have been important to me as I love having her there and it was a nice surprise to see them at the start of the second half.
“Kathlyn is football mad and I suppose she has always been football tied as she was born on the day I played the 2007 All-Ireland U21 final against Cork.” And how did hosting a communion party compare with the footballer’s usual pre-match routine?
“It was a strange day by comparison with your normal championship day. It worked out to my advantage, though. I didn’t burn any nervous energy thinking about the game as I was on the go for most of the afternoon. I was nearly out on the pitch before I realised what was going on.
“In hindsight, it was a good distraction.”
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