Gillian McCluskey, wearing 14, celebrates championship success. Picture: GAAPics.com

ERIN’S ISLE full-forward Gillian McCluskey – the star of her side’s Dublin Junior C Final victory against Naomh Olaf earlier in September – is the New Ireland Assurance Ladies Football player of the month.
McCluskey is a former Dublin camogie star, and still turns out for Erin’s Isle at the top end of competitive camogie at club level, meaning GAA is a real lifestyle for her.
“I’m training five nights a week, and I’ve been playing since I was 12” she tells GazetteSport. “The football team at Erin’s Isle only started three years ago after one of the player’s husbands agreed to take it on, so it’s been an interesting journey.
“We had a lot of players who had retired from camogie who came back for that first year, and we told the association we thought we were strong but we were put in Division 9.
“That first year involved a lot of games where we scored ten or so goals. It’s been a bit tougher since then! But we’re starting to see young players coming through more and more. The aim is to keep going year after year.”
It took until this month, in fact, for Erin’s Isle to lose their first game of their 2017 season.
They were defeated in the cup with a team weakened by holidays against Tomas Davis they but are set to add another promotion to a championship that saw them deal with some demons.
“We lost of Parnell’s in the semi-final last time around and beat them in the semi-final this time, which was obviously nice,” McCluskey recalls. “In the final [against Naomh Olaf], we felt like we should probably have won the game in the first half, we were a bit disappointed.
“But we went in level after they got a late goal. We were really strong at the start of the second half, and they came back a little bit towards the end.”
McCluskey herself got two of the goals in a 4-7 to 2-10 win. “We have tended to score a few goals because we play in a way that creates space at the front,” she said.
“I think a lot of the credit has to go to the defence, though, as they’re very good, and the platform they give us gives us real freedom in attack.”
As for the crossover into camogie? “I’ve found my eye is a lot better for the football from camogie,” she explains.
“And the fitness level requirements for football are high, so that’s helped my camogie game.
“I do a lot, it’s definitely a lifestyle, but I love it,” McCluskey jokes, “sure, it takes over sometimes but we have girls playing for us who have kids. At least I get to go home and get to look after myself!”