In our new series, ‘Showcase your Sport’, in association with the Irish Federation of Sport, we will be giving you a thorough insight into some of the most fascinating sports we have in Ireland.
This week, our focus is on Irish Cheer Sport and to tell us more about the growth of cheerleading in Ireland Assist Club Coach and athlete Katlyn Moynihan.
When did you first get involved in cheer sport?
I have been involved in cheerleading for as long as it has been around in my town which was, to my knowledge, within the first two years of cheerleading in Ireland. In 2008 new dance classes had started in my town, I was pretty young so the transition from a general dance class to cheerleading is not very clear, however, I do remember going into our tiny little dance hall one day and my coach explained that we were going to touch base off cheerleading, we learned how to perform a basic stunt and from then we have continued to develop our skills and knowledge.
What first drew you to the cheerleading?
I’ve been involved in dance and gymnastics from the age of five or six so when we started to train as a cheerleading club, it blended my love for tumbling, flexibility, stunting and dance into one exciting sport.
So even though what drew me to the sport was initially a basic dance class, as we developed and grew into a cheerleading programme, I stayed because I fell in love with every aspect of the sport.
How many clubs are there in Ireland and do you think it is growing in popularity?
There are approximately 12 clubs in northern Ireland and 14 clubs in the Republic of Ireland including university teams.
It is definitely growing in popularity, programmes are continuously growing in numbers as well as new clubs joining our community. Unfortunately, there are still a number of people who are not aware that cheerleading exists in Ireland, but the programmes in Ireland continue to push themselves, winning bids to represent our country at the world championships and various other renowned competitions.
Are there local and national events held in Ireland?
Yes, we have at least two national events every year, 21CC and Celtic Spirit, both of which provide bids to the world championships in cheer and dance categories. These competitions have grown throughout the years, piquing the interest of highly recognised cheerleading programmes in the UK.
What is your favourite memory from the sport?
That is a very tough question! Cheerleading has given me countless opportunities along with my most cherished memories.
I suppose if I had to pick one it would be my first experience at The World Championships in Orlando Florida, I competed in a doubles dance category. I was given a chance to represent my country on the biggest platform there is in the cheerleading industry.
I still remember the feeling before going on the floor, full of nerves and excitement but so calm because I was able to experience it with one of my best friends on our team, we kept each other at ease. I remember stepping on to the floor in disbelief, a moment I had dreamt of for so long was now a reality.
When the music stopped and I heard all our teammates supporting us in the crowd, I remember feeling so overwhelmed with pride it brought me to tears. It was truly incredible.
Aside from that, I met so many people who I am still in contact with today from all over the world and, although for many of them there was/is a serious language barrier, the common goal and love for our sport brought us together, it really was a unique and memorable experience.
In the cheerleading community, we all understand the hours of hard work and dedication it takes to improve and succeed in our sport and that allows us to respect each other’s efforts to grow within the sport without judgement. It gives us the opportunity to bond with athletes all over the world – even if you do speak completely different languages.
How can people get involved with cheerleading?
If you are looking to get involved with cheerleading, visit the Cheer Sport Ireland website where there is a list of registered clubs.
Best thing about cheerleading in Ireland?
Cheerleading in Ireland started so small, I think our first ever competition was in 2009/10. Each club started with pretty much the same knowledge and understanding of the sport. We have watched each other’s programmes develop throughout the years. There is unconditional support in cheerleading in Ireland, if one team represents our country at an international competition we all feel proud.
At competitions, win or lose we cheer for our competitors because in most cases they are our friends and we are genuinely happy for them. I always look forward to going to a competition or a conference to catch up with other athletes and coaches, a lot of us keep in contact through social media and every event brings us closer. We are just such a tight-knit community.