TWO years after she first expressed the desire to go to America on a football scholarship, Cork City's Evelyn Daly is about to embark on a life changing adventure.
Daly, 17, will depart for Stateside next month and while Cork City WFC will miss her greatly, the opportunity to continue her education while playing soccer at a very high level was too big an opportunity for the combative midfielder to turn down.
The former Lakewood star will be hoping that she can emulate the success of fellow Cork girl Megan Connolly who has been a huge hit in the States over the past two seasons and such has been the quality of her performances she has picked up numerous collegiate awards and is now very much a key figure in Colin Bell's Irish senior team.
Daly hopes to achieve the same success in the coming years. An Irish international at U17 and U19 level, Daly sees this opportunity as a chance to completely change her life and she can't wait to set off and achieve her goals and targets.
"I expect a big change in culture but looking forward to the experience," said Daly. "This is all I ever wanted and I will do my best to make it an experience of a life time."
Daly heads to Bakersfield University in California on a four-year full scholarship with all her fees and expenses paid for. Here she hopes to progress as a player while studying Kinesology Exercise Science.
"I knew since I was 14 that America was the place for me. I went about looking at colleges and checked out what they had to offer and when a chance came in January after talking to Dave bell I decided to explore Bakersfield and it took off from there. Bakersfield is situated north of L.A and South of San Fran. The college team name is the Roadrunners. I hope to study Kinesiology Exercise Science which is a four-year degree so apart from playing the game I love, I will also got a good education."
Heading to the States can be daunting for most people, but for Daly even at a young age, the challenge that lies a head is one in which she is relishing the opportunity and although she will miss her family and friends, she cannot wait to get started in University.
"I start university at the end of August which most of my time up until Christmas will be football based. After this, it focuses on the academic side of things. I am sharing an apartment with my Scottish teammate on campus so this is all new for me, but I am really looking forward to it. Cooking and cleaning will be new but I am sure I will learn as I go along."
Daly played her last game for Cork City against Galway where she netted two goals and she now hopes she can take that form to the States where she hopes she will thrive as a footballer.
"I played my last game for City against Galway and I was delighted to score twice and finish off with a bang. It was emotional after the game and the girls gave me a lovely send off. I can't wait to get playing in the States. The standard of football I believe is somewhere between the national league and international football. The university are in the top division in their league and they are competing well. I know there is a mixture of internationals that will show me the ropes and I know I will fit in well."
Daly's biggest fans are her parents Dave and Carmel. I have seen them travel all over Europe to watch her play and I know they will miss her hugely but having spoken to her dad, they are content with the fact they know this is Evelyn's dream and they will do everything they can to support her. Let's hope Evelyn can cope without them!
"I don't think being away from home will effect me having travelled with international teams. My parents have been fantastic and very supportive, My family, friends and teammates is what I'll miss most but I am looking forward to making and meeting new friends. I have already been in contact with my roommate for the year who is Scottish and others on the team so hopefully this will all help in me settling in quickly. For now, my focus is to get my degree and hopefully improve my football skills in between."
As a former team mate of Daly having played with her at Cork City, I have seen first hand how hard this girl works. I remember Niall O'Regan always quoting to us that 'hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard'.
One thing for sure is Daly's work ethic will always shine through, and probably what helped her gain the talent she has. I wish her all the best and I'm sure we will hear a lot more of her as she begins the journey of her life long dream.