Catherine Grier realised a lifetime dream last Friday night at the Sporthal de Bloemhof in the Dutch town of Aalsmeer.
It was there that the 16-year-old Ramelton woman pulled over her head an Irish jersey with ‘Grier 7’ emblazoned on the back.
Grier was selected for the Irish Deaf Women’s Futsal Team that has qualified for the European Championship finals, which will be held in December in Finland.
Although Grier sustained an ankle injury last Saturday against Germany, the Swilly Rovers midfielder scored the previous evening in a 3-3 draw against the Netherlands.
A goal on her Irish debut marked out a weekend to remember.
“It was the best experience ever to get to play for Ireland,” Grier said this week.
“It was very enjoyable going away to wear the Irish jersey and having the name above the number 7 shirt.
“I was down for trials before for the outdoor team, but sadly didn’t make it. Eventually, I got the Ireland jersey on me.
“We met up a few times from September. We were up in Dublin every second week between the National Sports Campus and Deaf Village Ireland. I couldn’t wait to get out there and it was just brilliant playing for Ireland at last.”
A fifth year student at Mulroy College in Milford, Catherine, a granddaughter of Swilly Rovers stalwart Ivan Grier, has moderate to profound nerve deafness, a hereditary condition.
Born with hearing, Catherine lost it by the time she started primary school and was picked up on by the school nurse.
When on duty with the Irish Deaf Team, players are not permitted to play with their aids and the same will be the case later this month when Catherine travels to Madrid to compete in the Champions League with Doncaster Rovers’ Deaf Team.
By that stage, she hopes her ankle ailment will have abated.
She said: “I just went to kick the ball, I tipped it off the German girl and she kicked me on the ankle. That sent me to hospital and I was home with a brand new set of crutches.
“It’s still badly swollen. Hopefully it goes down soon and I can be back for Madrid.”
Deaf Sports Ireland are considering entering a team at the eleven-a-side European Deaf Championships in Italy in May, while the Futsal finals will be in Finland pre-Christmas.
Dave Bell’s team suffered heavy losses to Germany and Denmark after the opening evening’s 3-3 draw, but Sunday’s 6-2 win over Italy propelled them to the finals.
Catherine’s experience got even better as she was confirmed Player of the Match for the draw against Netherlands.
“Rebekha Grant gave me a great assist and I put it in the bottom corner,” she said of her goal.
“It was a great feeling to score for Ireland in my first game. I couldn’t believe that I got player of the match. I didn’t know what to think when they called out my name. That was a massive honour.”