GALWEGIANS’ Kayla Waldron. Photo: Ray Ryan

North Galway’s Wizard of Oz

Rugby takes Kayla back to her roots

KAYLA WALDRON has built up her travel experience this year.

The 19-year-old rugby player was born on this island and spent her early years in Milltown, before heading to the other side of the world with her family to Australia, a country once named Van Diemen’s Land.

She is the daughter of Donna Hynes from Cortoon and former Tuam Stars footballer Mark Waldron. Her grandfather, Joe Waldron, captained the Galway U-21s to All-Ireland glory in 1972, and played in All-Ireland SFC finals in the ’70s, along with winning the Frank Fox with his club Milltown in ’71 and ’81. Sporting pedigree is in Kayla’s genes.

Hard work, talent and opportunity has merged to bring her back to Ireland. She was scouted through the IRFU’s Irish Qualified (IQ) Rugby programme, which identifies talented rugby players living overseas with Irish connections. It was a link that secured her a plane ticket bound from South-East Australia to Ireland during the summer.

“I saw a post put up somewhere for IQ Rugby and I applied for it. We were a few years talking. I was sending the coaches over videos of me playing,” explained Kayla, who lived in the city of Newcastle in the Australian state of New South Wales…

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