All Ireland-winning Kildare goalkeeper Aaron praises GAA culture

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All Ireland-winning Kildare goalkeeper Aaron praises GAA culture
11:24 Friday 14th of September 2018

Kildare Under 20s goalkeeper Aaron O'Neill helped Kildare achieve their first All Ireland title at any grade since 1965 after they overcame Mayo in a thrilling Final in Croke Park last month.

The civil engineering student at Athlone IT, says the GAA is a "massive" part of his life.

He said: "There's a good culture with the GAA. If I was asked to describe being Irish, the GAA is what I would describe."

Irish-born O'Neill said he had a normal upbringing in Derrinturn in north Kildare.

"It was kind of just like growing up white," he told independent.ie

"I've grown up with Irish people. There's nothing about me that is extraordinary.

"Everyone knows everyone around here. My family knows everyone, so everyone knew where I came from."

Curiosity is the most common reason the colour of his skin would come up in a conversation. "I don't mind when someone asks 'where are you from?' but sometimes when I say Ireland they say 'no you're not'. I have to say 'Yes, I am' again," he said.

While insisting he had an overall positive experience, he did encounter isolated instances of racism.

He explained: "Sometimes, you have a run-in with someone or if there's a playground fight or something it might turn to race. I think it was just kids' stuff and them not really realising what they were saying."

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