Gilroy gearing up for biggest test

The Republic of Ireland's Aileen Gilroy has had two targets this week – passing her final school exams in Nyon and claiming the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship title.

Aileen Gilroy poses with the trophy after completing her Leaving Certificate Examination
Aileen Gilroy poses with the trophy after completing her Leaving Certificate Examination ©Sportsfile

You would have thought that contesting a European football crown would be enough for one week – but Aileen Gilroy has been balancing football and study in equal measure in Nyon.

The Republic of Ireland defender, 17, has taken her school Leaving Certificate Examinations at UEFA's headquarters, while also enjoying the thrill of reaching Saturday's UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final against Spain.

Gilroy, from County Mayo in the west of Ireland, had a much different view to ponder in the House of European Football as she took her exam in Agricultural Science than she might have done at home. "It was certainly different alright – looking at the blue skies; at home you might have been looking at a cow or sheep!

"Everyone back home does the paper at the same time," added Gilroy. "There was the possibility of flying home to do the exam, but I decided to do the paper here. The Irish authorities agreed that I shouldn't miss out on the opportunity of being here [at this tournament]. It is difficult to balance football and studies, though – it's been study for an hour and then football for two hours before coming back and studying again. But I'm pretty confident that I've done well in the exam, I knew all the questions when I opened the paper. I'll get the results in August."

Gilroy and her team-mates did more than well on the field on Tuesday, shocking titleholders Germany 1-0 to set up a final meeting with Spain; qualifying for September's FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago in the process. "We told ourselves we could do it, and [Megan Campbell's] goal two minutes before half-time was a perfect time to score," said Gilroy. "I can barely explain how I felt at the final whistle; it was brilliant to think that we were heading for the final." A week with a whirlpool of emotions could yet get better still. 

Eurosport will televise the final in Nyon from 13.30CET on Saturday.

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